6 Tips for Attracting Cardinals this Winter

When February hits, and the snow and cold are really setting in, it’s easy to crave a little color in our yard. What better way to bring a little life back to your yard than a cardinal? Attracting cardinals to your yard is easier than you think! With the right feeder stocked full and a few of our expert tips implemented, you’ll start to see that cardinals are the first to your feeder in the morning and one of the last to leave at night.

Cardinals love the winter, so let’s give them a reason to visit. Here are 6 tips for attracting cardinals to your yard.

Give Them a Place to Hide

Their beautiful coloring and feathers are one of the reasons that cardinals are so loved and recognizable, but their eye-catching feathers can be an issue with predators. That’s why cardinals love to hide. If they feel safe, they’ll enjoy their time in your yard and be sure to return. To make them feel comfortable, all you need are some good covering with bushes or trees so they’ll be able to fly from one spot to another and protect themselves against potential threats.

Choose the Right Food

Cardinals are not terribly picky eaters, but like every animal, they do have some favorites. Whether you offer them sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, suet or even broken up peanuts, stocking a feeder year-round with cardinal-attracting snacks is a good way to make your yard more cardinal friendly.

The next time you see a cardinal, pay attention to their beaks – their design provides the necessary power and leverage to open hard shells and get the seed inside. To include all the cardinal favorites, in your next feeder, opt-in for the Cardinal Food Blend at Barn Owl.

Good Timing

It can take some time before cardinals feel safe enough to come to your home, so make sure that you’re keeping that feeder stocked all the time. We would even recommend 2 feeders if you can. Since cardinals are a bit shy, this will pull other birds away from one feeder and free one up for the cardinals. Almost all birds eat in the early morning and late evening, so double-check that the feeder is full during peak hours. In no time, the cardinals will realize that your backyard is the go-to spot!

Cardinal Friendly Feeders

Cardinals are a medium-sized bird, so they need larger feeders. Standard tube feeders are too small and they don’t like the sway the feeder makes when they land. Try a platform or tray with a longer perch where they can land and eat facing forward.

Help Them Build Their Nest

For cardinal nests, concealment is key. Compared to other birds, their nests are low, only 4 to 8 feet off the ground, and when building they look for dense shrubs and trees to hide from predators. The easiest way to help cardinals build their nests is to put straw, dryer lint, pet hair, twigs, blades of grass, or pine needles on the platform of your feeders or close by. With everything they need for food, nests, and camouflage, why would they go anywhere else?

Fun Fact – cardinals lay their eggs from spring to summer and are monogamous.

Water Source

Cardinals need water to drink every day and keep their feathers clean, even in the winter. Cardinals will hunt for running water, especially in the winter months when non-frozen water is hard to find. You can set a bird bath a few feet away from your feeder, and even though they do take some upkeep, they’re worth it. We suggest cleaning the birdbath every week or more often if heavy usage. If you live in an area where it freezes in winter, like in Chicago, a heated birdbath will be very popular with your cardinals.


Are you ready to make some changes or additions to your yard for those Cardinals?

Whether you’re looking for a little more natural beauty in your life, or if you’re an avid bird watcher, these tips should help you attract cardinals all winter and bring a little joy to gloomy days. We can’t wait to hear about your future guests! Don’t hesitate to share pictures and videos with us.

Which tip do you plan to try first?

Loyalty Program

Shop More, Save More.

Barn Owl Garden Loyalty Program