The Common Mistake Everyone Makes When Trying To Attract Cardinals To Their Yard

Birdwatching is a rewarding hobby that invites all types of local birds to basically come to hang out at yours. You can do this by setting up bird feeders to offer sustenance or by erecting a birdhouse for them to nest in. If your goal is to see more Northern cardinals in your birdhouse and you've been severely and routinely disappointed, it's because you're making a common mistake when trying to attract them. Cardinals won't respond to your birdhouse no matter how beautiful or appealing it might look, simply because they only nest in trees or bushes.

Northern cardinals are one of the most recognizable and prolific birds in America with their brilliant red color and prominent head tuft. Their interesting appearance makes them a sought-after sight, but you're not going to catch any with that elaborately designed birdhouse in your backyard. Cardinals typically reject man-made structures for nesting and prefer natural, open ones like trees with heavy foliage or thick shrubbery because it's more familiar to them and safer. Cardinals like to build nests with open sides and birdhouses that are all closed up make it near impossible to keep an eye out for predators. Their survival instinct simply won't let them make the grave choice of using a birdhouse as a nesting area.

Birdhouses would also impact cardinal reproduction

Northern cardinals prefer to do their house-building themselves in dense vegetation. During every brooding season, these birds mate, usually for life, and build a new nest each time, which sometimes amounts to multiple times a year. They never reuse their old ones for reasons known to them, although the Pennsylvania Game Commission believes it's a defense mechanism to keep predators occupied and away from the current nest. Cardinals wouldn't be able to carry on this tradition with your backyard birdhouse.

Northern cardinals have favorite trees and shrubs that they like to nest in such as mulberry, dogwood, pines, honeysuckle, elms, rose bushes, and box elders. They also tend to build their nests above ground, typically from around 3 to 15 feet high. They use organic scrap materials such as twigs, tree bark, pine needles, and grass to construct their nest. Attracting cardinals to your garden would mean creating spaces using familiar materials to encourage them to drop by for the season.

Create a cardinal paradise to attract them to your yard

Unless you're an avid tree-lover willing to take up the cost and work that goes into nurturing one, planting some just to lure Northern cardinals to your yard might be a bit of an overkill. If it's worth it to you — great. Otherwise, you're better off planting some shrubs and bushes like the ones mentioned above. Once the birds see that you have some of their ideal residential spots, they'll make a concession and settle there for the season.

Another way you can encourage cardinal presence in your yard is by introducing some of their favorite food shrubs, too. Cardinals will flock to your yard for berries and seeds such as sunflower seeds, gray dogwood, strawberry, blueberry, and viburnum, and fruits like grape and elderberry. Food is one of the easiest ways to attract these red fliers to your home. Lure them with the food and make them stay with the comfy bushes.

Water is one of the most important things you want to include in your yard if you want the birds to take it seriously. No wildlife is going to settle in your territory if they have to fly miles away just for a refreshing sip. Create the whole package by setting up a water fountain or birdbath. Once you make your home a paradise for cardinals, they'll think twice before leaving to nest elsewhere.