Cardinal love the sunflower seeds in our birdfeeders, but unfortunately, so do the squirrels. We share the best squirrel-proof feeders sized for cardinals that protect your birdfeeder from those squirrely seed thieves.
- Getting to Know Cardinals
- Keep the Squirrels and Other Predators Away
- Squirrel Prevention
- Three Cardinal Feeders with Squirrel Prevention
- More Predator Fooling Tricks
- FAQs on Feeding Your Cardinals:
- We Welcome the Cardinals
Getting to Know Cardinals
Cardinals are bold, perky birds who tend to establish a territory and live there the whole year-round. They love thick evergreens for winter cover and for summer nesting but will take advantage of any dense foliage to make a home.
They are not fond of nest boxes, preferring to build their own accommodations. You will often see both the male and female cardinal in pairs as they mate for life.
Cardinals are seed-eaters. If you are a gardener with sufficient space, they will flock to a plantation of sunflower seeds or even a stand of amaranth.
If you have a bird feeder or feeding area, the bright red coats and perky topknot of the males stand out among the other birds. By comparison, the female cardinal is a modest little Quakeress in dove-gray or soft brown with only touches of color, but she is easy to pick out from other gray birds by the characteristic orange beak and black mask common to all adult cardinals.
Both parents will feed the young when they hatch. The babies are hairless, then are dun-colored balls of fluff. Their first feathers are drab, but they develop adult coloring at their first molt – often in late
Cardinals are songbirds. Their bright “What-Cheer! What-Cheer!” is a bright harold of spring and early summer. They are large, as songbirds go, so avoid dainty little feeders such as those intended for finches, chickadees, or titmice. They are also messy eaters, prone to be territorial, so a feeder with more than one side or several feeding ports is ideal.
Keep the Squirrels and Other Predators Away
Do you love cardinals, but fret when the squirrels keep eating all the seed shortly after it’s filled? Use these tips to keep the birdseed safe.
The feeders can be hung, or placed on a post. In both cases, take care to protect the feeder from neighborhood squirrels, cats, or other predators who might regard your bird feeder as a personal smorgasbord.
Squirrels love the same seeds, suet, peanut butter, and other treats that cardinals enjoy. If you have an active squirrel population they can quickly clean out a feeder, leaving little for your feathered neighbors.
Select sturdy feeders with small ports to help combat these scampering bandits. Some of the techniques used to slow down cats will somewhat delay a squirrel’s approach to your feeder.
Squirrels, as you probably already know, are much better climbers than cats. With their clever, hand-like paws, and teeth that can gnaw into black walnuts, they can work their way into almost any feeder – given enough time.
Three Cardinal Feeders with Squirrel Prevention
There are a broad variety of commercial bird feeders available, some specifically made for cardinals. Most keep in mind predation from cats, theft by squirrels and opossums, as well as comfortable perches that will allow your cardinal flock to feed easily.
The Jagunda Squirrel Proof Birdfeeder can hold large amounts of seed, up to 6 pounds, and is designed to prevent squirrels from getting to the feeder.
The feeder tray is 18.5 inches wide, which is why the cardinals love it – they prefer a larger flat area when feeding. It is this broad base that also prevents the squirrels from getting a good grip to climb up.
An added feature of this feeder is the rotating port regulator that allows you to control the amount of seed released. To complete the design is the dome on top to prevent the seed from getting wet during the rain.
The Perky-Pet Holly Berry Gilded Chalet features a circular perch that invites birds to feed from different directions. This large perch is what makes it attractive to cardinals.
Holding up to 2 pounds of seed this adorable feeder will blend right in with the natural elements of your yard. The holly berry patterned lid has a locking cap feature to prevent the squirrels from getting your seed.
Duncaft makes some of the best squirrel-proof bird feeders on the market. In particular, the Squirrel Buster Classic gets rave reviews from its customers.
This is another weight triggering design that moves the seed access away from hungry squirrels as soon as they land on it. the Classic model has removable perches and more footholds to provide plenty of options for feeding.
The Classic feeder is just over 32 inches tall with a 4-inch tube that holds 1-3/4 pounds of seed. A ventilation system is included which keeps the seed fresh longer. This feeder works equally well to attract cardinals, finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and chickadees.
Watch the below video from Duncraft to see exactly how it works – it’s too funny!
PestOff Sunflower Mixed Seed Past Proof Bird Feeder is a great way to attract and feed songbirds without the hassle of pesky intruders. The feeding ports keep out squirrels, chipmunks, large birds, and more.
The ports are sensitive to weight, so when more weight is applied, the hatch snaps shut, cutting off access to the feed.
This birdfeeder holds up to 3 pounds worth of mixed seed and boasts a wider lip on top to make it easy to fill.
Wild Birds Forever presents a moderately high-tech solution for foraging squirrels.
It looks like an ordinary tube feeder, and birds can happily enjoy its bounty without interruption. But should a squirrel try to climb onto it, a little motor switches on causing the feeder to spin. The squirrels are then flipped off the feeder.
It is the perfect springtime gift for a bird fancier with a squirrel problem and a sense of humor.
More Predator Fooling Tricks
One Way to Fool the Squirrels – Feed The Birds Like Chickens
Cardinals, like many other birds, tend to feed in the early morning and late evening. If you have the time, you can put out the feeder in the morning and bring it back in at night, or even just put it out for an hour or two at regular feeding times.
Your pensioners will quickly catch onto the routine, and flock to you when you bring out their treats. This gives the squirrels less time to work on your feeders, and your presence signals “food time” to the birds. It works much the same way as feeding farmyard poultry.
If physically removing and replacing a feeder is too much work, you can apply physics to the placement of your bird feeder. Add spinners a thin cord to suspend your bird feeder.
Create a conical top hat for hanging feeders, and bottom barriers for post feeders. Place post feeders well away from trees or buildings that will allow squirrels to leap onto the feeding station.
Keep The Cats From Climbing Up Your Feeders
Cats can also be a nuisance to your bird feeder. To keep the cats from climbing, place a tangle of wire or a downward-facing collar around a post-mounted feeder.
If you use a hanging feeder, place it well out on a high limb and let it depend too far to be reached by even the most ambitious feline.
FAQs on Feeding Your Cardinals:
Question: What kind of hanger should I use for a cardinal feeder?
Answer: A lightweight cable suspended from a lanyard makes a nice support for a bird feeder full of hungry birds and a load of seed.
Question: What kinds of food should I put out for the Cardinals?
Answer: Cardinals love large seeds, such as sunflowers. They will also eat cracked nuts, peanut butter, and chunks of suet. There are also available commercial pellets designed for cardinals.
Question: Are cardinals heavy enough to trigger squirrel preventions on mechanical feeders?
Answer: It depends on the feeder. In some cases, yes, they are heavy enough. Look for feeders that can have an adjustment to allow for the weight of several cardinals on the same feeder.
We Welcome the Cardinals
Cardinals are a bright, cheery guest at your bird feeder in any season. Their songs and bright coats are enough to make any day beautiful. They are also useful visitors to your yard and garden. Cardinals eat at least 51 different kinds of beetles. They will also dine on cicadas, aphids, grasshoppers, slugs, and snails.