Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern cardinals remain paired up throughout the year, unlike most bird species.  Male will feed female while she sits on the nest and the male will also feed the female.  Young Cardinals have a black beak and adults have beaks in a reddish, orange or pink coloring. Read about how to attract this stunning bird to your yard.



• The female cardinal will choose the nesting site and build the nest.  The males will sometimes bring building materials.
• The male cardinal will feed the female seeds and berries as tokens of affection.
• Females lay three to four eggs during the spring mating season and again in the summer.
• Females will sit on the nest while the males gather food for her

Female Northern Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal


• The female sits on the nest 

• Males gather food for her and the fledglings, meals can up to 7 times an hour the first week.
• The second week the male tapers the meals down to about three an hour.
• At about the 5-week mark the fledglings will begin flying.

Male Northern Cardinal in Spring Blooming Tree

Male Northern Cardinal



Plant Trees & Shrubs 
Plant trees and shrubs that produce berries.  Besides seed and insects, the Northern Cardinal eats plenty of berries and having trees and shrubs that produce berries is a natural way to lure the birds to your yard.

Cardinals Favorites: 

  • Blueberry bushes
  • Mulberry trees
  • Serviceberries
  • Crabapples
  • Elderberries
  • Honeysuckle hedges
  • Dogwood
  • Hackberry
  • Sumac
  • Other dark-colored berries

The birds are not as picky as most and can be tempted by many additional fruits especially during the winter months when berries on trees start getting picked clean.

Cardinal Favorite Trees and Shrubs

Planting Trees & Shrubs Bring Insects Cardinals Eat

  • Katydids
  • Centipedes
  • Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Flies
  • Spiders
  • Leafhoppers
  • Cicadas
  • Butterflies
  • Moths
  • Worms

Offer A Buffet at Your Feeder


Thick-Shelled Safflower Seeds – Not sure what safflower seed is?  That is a fair question, the seed has grown in popularity in the past few years.

Purchase seed and offer it up to your feathered friends, they love using their strong beaks to break open the seeds.


Black Oil Sunflower Seed – Cardinals love black oil sunflower seed and the seed is an oil-rich, high-protein choice that appeals to almost every seed-eating species. An excellent seed choice for hopper, tube, and tray or open platform bird feeders.

Some additional birds that eat black oil sunflower seed include chickadees, nuthatches, finches of all types, sparrows, jays, woodpeckers, grosbeaks and indigo buntings.

Male Northern Cardinal Eating Striped Sunflower Seed 

Suet – Cardinals have been known to eat nips of suet during the winter at my feeders to help regulate their body temperatures in the cold.  You can purchase suet or make your own.

Feeders on Amazon:

Tube Feeder Platform Feeder
Hopper Feeder Suet Feeder

Fruit In a Dish

Even if you have fruit-bearing trees, add additional cut up fruits that are a past prime to a platform feeder or dish. 

Offer the Following Fruit Choices:

  • Apple slices
  • Raspberries
  • Raisins
  • Plums
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries

Start Slow & Add When You Can To Attract Northern Cardinals

In order to attract any wildlife to your backyard, you have to research what items attract the wildlife to live or visit an area.  If you add a few elements that attract Northern Cardinals like trees and shrubs and feeders that offer fruits, suet, sunflower seed and safflower seed that will greatly improve your chance that the birds will stick around your property for you to enjoy.

Some Additional Birds You Can Get To Know
Red Breasted Nuthatch
Dark Eyed Junco

Pileated Woodpecker
Red Eyed Vireo
House Finches
All Wisconsin Birds


Common NameNorthern Cardinal
Bird FamilyCardinal
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