You can find northern cardinals throughout the Eastern United States. Their typical habitat extends as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico. They can be seen as far west as the Rocky Mountains, giving them an expansive North American habitat.

If you’re an avid bird watcher, you may be on the lookout for these beautiful, vividly-colored birds. While not a rare sight, some areas may not see as many cardinals as others. One way to help attract these birds is to understand what they eat.

What do cardinals eat? Continue reading to discover what cardinals eat in the wild and their preferred food for bird feeders.

What Cardinals Eat In the Wild

Cardinals eat a variety of foods in the wild. Their favorites include weed seeds, sunflower seeds, grains, and fruits. However, they will also eat berries and insects.

Baby cardinals particularly love insects. In fact, babies are fed almost exclusively insects until they leave the nest. This is because insects are easier to eat than the cardinal’s traditional seed diet.

They’re Less Picky in Winter

Cardinals are much less picky about what they eat in the winter since food is challenging to find. This means you may see them eating things outside of their regular diet. This is totally normal.

Attracting Cardinals With Bird Feeders

Many avid bird watchers use bird feeders to attract birds to their yards. There are many different types of feeders and types of bird food.

Cardinal bird feeders are most effective at attracting these birds if filled with their favorite seeds. The most popular commercial cardinal food varieties include black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. There are also commercial seed mixes available.

Other Ways To Attract Cardinals to Your Yard

If you’re looking for other ways to attract cardinals to your yard, many options are available. Many methods will help attract various bird species into your yard, so you may get to view even more birds than you were hoping for!

A few of the easiest, most effective ways to attract cardinals to your yard include:

  • Add a birdbath to your yard, so cardinals have somewhere to drink and bathe
  • Plant dense bushes so cardinals have a place to hide and create their nests
  • Plant evergreens to attract cardinals in the winter
  • Consider adding peanuts and thinly cut apple slices to open bird feeders as a treat
  • Make your bird feeder more attractive by placing it about eight to ten feet from trees or other coverage

What Do Cardinals Eat? Answered!

What do cardinals eat? Now you know the answer includes a variety of foods in the wild, including berries, seeds, and insects. However, sunflower or safflower seeds are the best options for backyard bird feeders.

Want to learn more about cardinals or other bird species?

Check out our other blogs. You’ll find articles on cardinals and other birds to help you attract more of them to your backyard for your viewing pleasure.

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