Best Cardinal Feeder Reviews: Top 5 Options Plus Simple Tricks to Attract Cardinals

cardinal feeder - featured image

Last Updated on by Garrett Hayes

Correct me if I’m wrong:

Every birdwatcher living anywhere up north wants to see cardinals in their yard.

Either way, I know you do want to attract a cardinal. Else, why would you be here?

It’s hard not to fall in love with this rock star among birds. Cardinals have bright red plumage, a Mohawk for a crest, and would sing to you all day long.

Now, how can you attract the Beatles of the bird world into your yard?

Sounds tough? Not too much.

To attract cardinals, you not only have to get the best cardinal feeder but also need to set the stage for them to come play in your yard.

Honestly, getting all these steps right may be a daunting task for most birders, so I did some heavy lifting.

I’ve listed six of the best cardinal feeders on the market, starting with our #1 rated Absolut II Cardinal Feeder, plus some tips and tricks to set up your yard for a daily cardinal concert.

Top 5 Best Cardinal Bird Feeder Reviews

1. Absolut II Cardinal Feeder – Overall Best

Woodlink Absolute II Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder Model 7536

For a long time, the Absolut II has been a favorite among birdwatchers to attract cardinals.

The Absolut II is a durable hopper style feeder that can serve a variety of seed mixes for days with its large reservoir. 

The best part:

It holds up to 12 pounds of seed at a time.

Also, there are troughs on each side of the feeder serving the birds from its large storage. So, if you already have a lot of birds coming to your feeder, you don’t have to refill as often, and more birds feed on the trough at a time. 

It’s a win-win-win.

Although with so much activity going on at the feeder, other critters would be tempted to join the party. Fortunately, it has squirrel proof troughs that lock under the weight of squirrels or large birds.

The only thing is, it’s possible for some persistent and witty squirrels to breach the lock mechanism, even on the lowest setting. Most times, it usually takes a while before they finally figure it out.

Anyway, it sure does a better job of keeping out the elements from contaminating the seed. The feeder would keep most of the seeds dry during snow or rain seasons. However, you may need to clean the troughs because they can get clogged with wet seeds.

On the bright side, cleaning and refilling is a breeze. The roof opens up easily for cleaning and refilling when you squeeze its latch.

This feeder is built to last. It’s made in the USA with a heavy-duty powder-coated steel. Speaking of which, you need to hang it on a strong shepherd’s hook or mount to a sturdy platform. It’s pretty heavy when fully loaded with seeds.

Pros

  • Durable steel construction
  • Double-sided ports serve more cardinals
  • Large seed storage
  • Easy to clean and refill
  • Protects seeds from the elements
  • Useful squirrel-activated lock mechanism on the feeding ports

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not 100% squirrel-proof

Takeaway

If you are in search of the best cardinal feeder, whatever the cost, you can’t go wrong with the Absolut II feeder.

It’s durable, easy to clean, and serves lots of birds at a time efficiently with its double-sided troughs and 12-pound seed capacity.

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2. Perky Pet Panorama – Best Hanging Tube Feeder

Perky Pet Panorama Cardinal Bird Feeder

Typically, tube feeders aren’t ideal for the feeding style of cardinals. At the very least, you’ll have to buy a tray attachment to make the feeder more compatible. However, the Perky Pet Panorama is one of the tube feeders that serve cardinals without any need for attachments.

Unlike most tube feeders, it doesn’t have feeding ports along the length of the tube. Instead, it serves the birds with a 360-design tray port and perch. This way, cardinals don’t have to bend awkwardly to feed on the circular perch.

It’s quite easy to clean or refill too. The top comes off easily to give access to the feeder. Just wash with Dawn or any mild liquid soap every other week, and of course, refill as you please. Also, the bottom comes apart, but it isn’t necessary for cleaning.

A major issue with feeder, however, is that it doesn’t have the best protection against rain and snow. The tray port doesn’t have holes large enough to keep the seeds dry whenever it rains, so everything gets clogged. Even worse, the metal parts can start to rust in less than a year.

The Panorama feeder has a 2-pound seed capacity. Although not so small, you may need a bigger option if there’s a lot of activity at your feeder. If you like its design, you can get the 2-tier version of the Panorama Feeder that holds up to 5 pounds of seed.      

On a final note, despite the possibility of rust over the years, it’s a relatively durable feeder for the price. The powder-coated copper just may corrode faster in coastal areas.

Pros

  • Good price
  • Attractive antique copper finish
  • Easy to clean and refill
  • Comfortable feeding tray

Cons

  • No protection from squirrels
  • Not the best for folks living in rainy regions

Takeaway

If you prefer using tube feeders, the Perky Pet Panorama is one of the few models that is ideal for cardinals. Its 360-degrees design and tray port are what cardinals need to stay in your yard.

It’s affordable and easy to clean but plan to keep squirrels off your feeder. Also, it’s not the best feeder for your yard if you see a lot of rain.

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3. Droll Yankee Dorothy’s – Domed Cardinal Feeder

Droll Yankees 344318 DCF Dorothys Cardinal Domed Bird Feeder, 15 Inch

Although Dorothy’s Cardinal Feeder is more of an all-birds feeder, it does a great job of attracting cardinals.

Its simple design, which includes a dome cover and flat base, offers the birds a sturdy and open platform to feed. Since cardinals are ground feeders, it works like a charm. Also, you can adjust the dome to shut off large birds if you were wondering.

The whole feeder is made of UV-stabilized poly-carbonate plastic. This is a durable type of plastic that’s strong (strong enough to withstand squirrel attacks) and won’t crack or yellow after years of use outdoor. In fact, it’s covered by a lifetime warranty against damage from squirrel attacks.  

Looking at the feeder alone, you can already tell it is easy to clean and fill it up with any type of seed. But stick to favorites of the cardinals. The dish can serve about a pound or a little more at a time.

Although the dome protects the seeds from snow, it doesn’t stand much chance against rain. Nevertheless, it has small drainage holes on the feeder platform that effectively drain out water as soon as it gets in.

All in all, it’s an excellent feeder with a simple design that works tremendously well. But some folks may feel it costs too much for a piece of plastic. Truth be told, it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing feeder to have in your yard.

Pros

  • Good bang for the buck
  • Simple design
  • Eminently easy to clean and refill
  • Adjustable dome to control types of birds at the feeder
  • Good drainage system
  • Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage

Cons

  • Somewhat pricey
  • Little to no protection from windy rain

Takeaway

If you are looking for something simple to attract cardinals to your yard, Droll Yankee’s Dorothy feeder works like a charm.

Its flat dish platform is just the way cardinals love to get their food. The only difference is it isn’t on the ground.

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4. Woodlink Going Green Feeder – Best Ground Feeder

Woodlink Going Green Platform Bird Feeder Model GGPLAT

In my opinion, a platform feeder would easily be the best cardinal feeder for one reason:

Cardinals love to feed on the ground.

And the Woodlink Platform feeder happens to be a ground feeder. It can also be hung on a pole using its hanging cable.

The only thing is, it’s an open feeder, so you’ll be attracting not just birds, but also squirrels and other wildlife interested in the seeds. But it’s a large tray, so there’s enough room for everyone to be satisfied.

Besides, cardinals are punctual, so you can just serve sunflower and safflower in the morning and before sunset for them. Then, you can mix in other types of treats during the day for other birds. It holds up to 3 pounds of a variety of seeds.

The Woodlink Going Green tray feeder has a sturdy and “green” construction. It’s made from 90% recycled plastic that’s long-lasting since it won’t absorb water. Ironically, the feeder also has a green tint.

Its perforated metal screen base makes up for its lack of roof/cover by doing a good job of draining water. Of course, it also doubles as a large feeding ground for the birds.

The metal screen only needs to hosed down every other day for cleaning. Woodlink has a more expensive feeder with a removable screen if that suits your fancy.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Attracts a lot of birds
  • Durable construction from recycled plastic
  • Foldable metal legs
  • Spacious feeding platform
  • Easy to clean and refill

Cons

  • No protection from weather or squirrels

Takeaway

If you love the cardinals but also enjoy the company of plenty of other birds, you are in luck. The Woodlink Going Green platform feeder like other ground feeders is a hotspot for birds.

More particular, it is made from durable recycled material and is easy to clean.

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5. Squirrel Buster Plus – Best Squirrel-Proof Cardinal Feeder

Squirrel Buster Plus

As you already know, tube feeders aren’t the best for cardinals because they find it hard to maneuver around the little perches.

But it’s possible to make a compromise with one or two modifications. With Brome’s Squirrel Buster Plus, it comes in the form of a cardinal ring. It’s a thick circular perch around the feeder that’s thicker than the average to allow Northern Cardinals to have easy access to the seeds.

With compatibility being out of the way, Squirrel Buster is made with top-quality in mind. The exposed parts of the feeder are made from a chew-proof material, RoxResin, giving you a feeder you can pass down to the kids. If you doubt that, it’s covered by a lifetime warranty against damage

Along with protection from squirrel damage, the feeder uses an adjustable lock mechanism to keep them off from the seeds. You can adjust to trigger the lock as a heavier or lighter weight than the factory setting. Also, you can purchase a pole adapter if you’d find a squirrel-safe zone by mounting the feeder.

If you welcome a lot of birds to your yard, you can rest easy knowing it holds over five pounds of seeds at a time. Droll Yankee’s patent seed ventilation system also keeps the seed fresh for a longer period.

Since it’s a tube feeder, it doesn’t have the best protection against torrential rain. Most of the seed in the feeder would stay dry, but you’ll have to clean out the feeding ports after every rain. On average, it would keep out precipitation if it’s not over the top.

Speaking of which, it’s not the easiest to clean. There are just too many parts to take apart, in my opinion, which may be complicated to some old folks. On the contrary, you wouldn’t need to clean it often, plus it’s easy to refill.

Lastly, compared to other feeders, Squirrel Buster Plus costs a fortune. It’s no surprise for a feeder built with award-winning technology.

Pros

  • Long-lasting chew-proof material
  • Cardinal ring allows the birds perch comfortably
  • Holds a large amount of seed
  • Good seed preservation
  • Adjustable squirrel-proof locking ports
  • Quick refill

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May be complicated to clean
  • Seed in feeding ports get clogged in heavy rain

Takeaway

This is one of the most hard-wearing bird feeders you can find and not just among cardinal feeders. Its cardinal ring perch makes it a compatible tube feeder for the cardinals.

So, if you don’t mind splurging to get the best cardinal feeder with almost impenetrable protection against squirrels, Drome Squirrel Buster Plus would be a perfect choice.

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male cardinal perched on a feeder


Buying Guide

It’s one thing to buy the best cardinal feeder, and it’s another to attract them to the feeder.

Cardinals are proud, I mean, shy rockstars of the avian world. So, you’ll need to make them feel at home in your yard. It’s no surprise that birdwatchers think they are one of the most challenging birds to keep around.

For this reason, I’ll share some of the things you can do to bring cardinals to your yard.

#1 Serve Their Favorite Seeds

This is a no brainer.

If you’re just trying to attract pigeons or squirrels, you can serve just about any seed at your feeder. But for cardinals, you’ll have to get them something that features in their diet, preferably, their favorite meal.

So, what types of food do cardinals love the most?

Well, in the wild, cardinals are ground feeders that would scavenge on a variety of things, such as seeds, insects, and fruits.

But what kinds of food can you serve at your feeder to attract cardinals?

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

There are lots of them that you can buy. 

But first, if you want them to fall head over heels with your feeder, offer Black Oil Sunflower seed. It’s popular among birders due to its low price, but also cardinals and other birds love it. Striped sunflower and sunflower chips are good options if you want your feeder limited to cardinals or open to a variety of more birds, respectively.

Safflower Seed

Another favorite for cardinals is safflower seed. The good thing about this seed is that many other birds and squirrels would stay away from your feeder because they don’t like it. So, if you have bully birds at your feeder, switch to serving safflower seed.

Cardinals also love to eat suet, fresh berries, cracked corn, and peanuts. They’d eat peanuts as long as they’ve been shelled.

#2 Make Cardinals Feel At Home

Cardinals are shy, and you’ll attract way more of them if you make them comfortable.

Keep Away From Windows And Reflective Objects

The first thing you want to do is to keep the cardinal feeder as far away from windows as possible. Not only does this attract more cardinals, but it also saves their lives. This is because they won’t notice much movement in the house or have a reason to fight with their reflection, which they are known to do.

Put Near Hiding Places

Also, place the feeder near a tree, shrub, or bush. This gives them a hiding place to gather reconnaissance before getting the party started at your feeder.

Add a Bird Bath Nearby

If you can, set up a deep birdbath, about 2-3 inches near the feeder. Cardinals love to hide or frolic around a feeder for some minutes before they eat. Also, keep the bath heated in the winter because the cardinals will come all-year long once they find your feeder.

female cardinal perched on a branch

#3 Toss Some Treats Around

Like with many wild animals, you can’t completely tame the instincts of Northern cardinals.

Many at times, you’ll still see them eating beneath a feeder because they are natural ground eaters.

Whenever you fill your feeder, toss some seeds around the feeder, or places/bushes you think shy cardinals might be hiding. They’ll be forced to use the feeder to get some more food.

But be sure to keep the environment safe from predators or they’ll be gone for good.

Also, as I’ve said earlier, keep the feeders as far away as possible from reflective objects.

#4 Make Cardinals Feel Secure

If you want to attract even more cardinals, you must make them feel safe.

For one, cardinals are subject to attack from house pets because they are ground feeders. So, keep cats at bay around your bird feeders if you want cardinals to feel welcome in your yard.

Also, as I’ve said earlier, keep the feeder away from windows and reflective objects. Northern cardinals have seen a higher number of window kills than only a few other birds.

If you are passionate about attracting cardinals, plant shrubby vines like dogwood, junipers, and honeysuckle. These plants would make more cardinals eat at your feeder and build nests in your yard.

#5 Early Birder Brings The Most Cardinals To The Yard

Cardinals are punctual birds. There are among the first, if not the very first; visitors at feeders and usually the last to leave as well.

It only makes sense to fill the feeders with their favorites before sunrise.


Want to know more about cardinals? In the short video below, let’s get to know how sweet their songs sound… Plus some interesting facts about them.

Here’s your next interesting pit stop… Have you ever wondered what does it mean when you see a cardinal at the window? You’ll get to know more meanings than you can imagine.


Summary

It’s true attracting cardinals to your yard can be tough, but neither is it rocket science.

With the right bird feeder, their favorite seeds, and creating safe and conducive surroundings, you’ll set the stage for cardinals to feast in your yard. Soon, they’ll fill your yard with their bright red plumage and melodic tunes sunrise and sunset.

Just in case, I’ll recommend the Woodlink Absolut II if you’re still indecisive about the best cardinal feeder for your yard.

It’s not the cheapest, but it lasts forever, has a sizable 12-pound seed capacity, and double troughs to serve more birds at a time.

It is one of the best ways for attracting cardinals to your yard year after year.

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