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The Best Seed for Cardinals for 2024

best bird seed for cardinals

Cardinal is one of the most popular birds to many avian lovers in America, well-known for the vibrant red plumage, prominent crest, and the long tail. They are also great singers, too.

Apparently, cardinals are much-adored and many people want to have them in their backyards. It must feel nice to wake up to a tiny creature chirping and to sing in your place every day. Luckily, cardinals are not hard to please. All you need is love, care and a bag of the best bird seed for cardinals!

The easiest way to attract your birdie friends is to offer them good food. So buy some bags of decent seeds, setting up the bird feeder, and transform your backyard into a sort of bird haven.

In case you are still wondering which would be the best food for cardinals, refer to our following reviews of the top ten high-quality bird products for a suggestion.

Best Seed for Cardinal Reviews

1. Wagner’s 62032 Cardinal Blend

wagners 62032 cardinal blend

What do red cardinals eat, you might ask? As you might already have noticed, cardinals own a hard and strong beak which is designed to crack open shells to eat the seeds. Therefore, our bird buddies would very love to have hard-shelled seeds, such as sunflower or safflower.

The advice is to prepare a mix of these seeds for cardinals to enjoy. You can make it yourself or you can just buy this bird blend from Wagner’s. This product is packed with sunflower and safflower seeds, ready to be made into an extravagant feast for cardinal birds.

This bag of cardinal bird seed provides the highest quality food. Sunflower seeds are pretty popular with songbirds for their high nutritional content.

Safflower seeds are not as common, but these white seeds are high in fat, protein, and fiber and would make the perfect complement. Cardinals would definitely love it.

Some types of birds don’t particularly enjoy safflower seeds. That means you could protect the tray feeder from any “bully birds” that might steal seeds from cardinals. Squirrels are also not a fan of this bitter seed, so now cardinals will have squirrel-proof protection.

This mixed food is ideal for any bird watchers attempting to attract cardinals to your homes. Isn’t it lovely to see those small red birdies adorning and livening up your backyard?

What We Liked
  • Convenient premixed seed bag
  • Rich nutrition content
  • Squirrel-proof protection
What We Didn't Like
  • Slightly expensive

2. Wagner’s 76027 Black Oil Sunflower

wagners 76027 black oil sunflowerThis premium bag from Wagner consists of 100% authentic black oil sunflower seed high in energy content. This would make a clever choice of bird food for cardinals, or any other types of wild songbirds (woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadee, finches, and you name it).

Black-oil sunflower is probably the most popular type of seed. It might be easier to make a list of birds that don’t like black-oil sunflower seeds since your backyard friends absolutely love it! It is not only rich in oil, but it is also easy to purchase and relatively cheap.

Plus, the seeds have thin shells, making it much easier for all birds to consume. Bird lovers choose this because it is clean and wouldn’t cause that much of a mess for them. I think you should definitely consider this product to feed the cardinals visiting your yard.

To prepare the food for the birds, you can go for either a hopper, a tubular or a tray. All you have to do is put some handfuls of seeds onto the feeder. As cardinals prefer to perch on something while eating, so a tray feeder is the ideal choice.

Then there you go, sit back and ready to welcome all the cardinal friends. They will finish the food that you prepare for them in no time, and even come back for more of it.

What We Liked
  • Providing super quality sunflower seeds
  • Attracting a muster of various bird species
  • Containing high energy content
  • Having thin outer shells for easy consumption
  • Coming at a reasonable price
What We Didn't Like
  • Many grasses, leaves, twigs, and other debris found inside
  • Not really suitable for long storage

3. Audubon Park 12231 Cardinal Blend

audubon park 12231 cardinal blendAnother suggestion of cardinal birds food is this pre-mixed product from Audubon Park. One bag contains 60% black oil sunflower seeds and 40% safflower seeds, and 100% premium natural seeds for cardinals.

If you are looking for a high-quality product, this is the answer for you. Any bird lovers would want to give the best for their feathered friends. It is a kind of pleasure to feed the birds, to watch them and enjoy their singing in your own yard. With this, you can take care of the birds very well.

Sunflower and safflower seeds have always been a great combo for bird feeders. They provide all the necessary nutrients that birds need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. To prepare the meals for the avian visitors, simply pour a considerable amount of birdseed onto a flat tray feeder and wait for them to come.

This product would attract a great assortment of birds, and then the yard will be filled with sweet singing voices of those songbirds. This product is bird approved and you will soon find the food going very quickly. Your yard will be the favorite hangout place of the lovely cardinal birds.

However, compared to other brands, this bag of bird food is a bit pricey, but it is totally worth it. Just consider all aspects to figure out what works best for you and your cardinal buddies.

What We Liked
  • High-quality mixed birdseed
  • Birds approved
  • Less waste and clean use
What We Didn't Like
  • Relatively high price
  • Twigs and leaves found inside, mixed with seeds

4. Wagner’s 62059 Greatest Variety Blend

wagners 62059 greatest variety blendIf the mix of sunflower and safflower seeds is not enough, we present to you this unique product. In this pack, you may find up to eleven bird food ingredients, all for the best nutrition content. All these types of seeds are carefully selected, and they would cater to the needs of every possible visitor to your garden.

The sunflower seeds still account for a large part of the whole bag, including the black oil sunflower, striped sunflower, and sunflower chips. The remaining is an assorted mix of millet, cracked corn, red milo, and so on.

The seeds come in various colors, shapes, and sizes, making a hearty buffet for birdie friends.

Now, any birds visiting your yard would be completely satisfied, since they can easily find their favorite food in this mixed batch. Your yard will be a real bird sanctuary where feathered buddies of all types gather to have great food.

This is definitely a gourmet food for birds. It is good to have diversified seed offerings with a great variety of nutrients. I’m sure this product would be a delicious treat for the birds, and of course a worthwhile purchase for us.

Just a small reminder, one of the ingredients included in the mix is peanut chips. If you and your family members are by any chance allergic to peanuts, this product might not be suitable for you.

What We Liked
  • A great blend for a wide array of birds.
  • High nutrition values from an assortment of seeds.
  • Superior quality
What We Didn't Like
  • It comes with many moths and spider webs

5. Lyric 2647467 Cardinal Premium

lyric 2647467 cardinal premiumAnother contender for the best birdseed is this premium bird mix from Lyric. With many of its significant plus points, the brand is gaining its popularity among bird lovers. You should check this out and try a bag to attract the most beautiful pack of red cardinals.

Moreover, you guys should prepare to be surprised at how your birds would like it.

This is another mix of cardinals favorite food – sunflower and safflower seeds, but it comes in larger sizes which are suitable for big-billed birds.

Lyric Bird Mix is produced with cardinals’ eating habits and nutritional needs in mind. So, you don’t have to worry about the quality of this excellent product.

With 70% of the content being sunflower seeds, this mix works like a magnet for cardinal birds. My advice is to put the seeds onto a flat or hopper feeder, as it is more comfortable for cardinals to eat. Cardinals also like eating from the ground, so you can scatter some seeds on the yard surface for the birds to go down.

Many people say that the number of birds visiting their yards increases after using this blend, and they would go back for more. That is a really positive sign and don’t you want the same thing? With bowls of this delicious treat, birdies friends have no reason to leave your place.

What We Liked
  • Oxygen absorber packet inside to keep food fresh
  • Seed mix of superb quality
  • Resealable package
What We Didn't Like
  • Sometimes, it fails to appeal to cardinals

6. Wagner’s 57075 Safflower Seed

wagners 57075 safflower seedIf you are looking for safflower seed specifically to feed your birds, this is dedicated to you. Apparently, cardinal birds love safflower seed and this would be the best gift for our small friends. The quality of this seed is undeniable and you need not worry about it.

The seeds are clean, fresh and carefully packed into individual bags. There is no need to explain how beneficial safflower seeds are for cardinal birds. Try to include a portion of these seeds into your birdies’ diet.

The reason why many bird lovers choose safflower seeds is the squirrels. Cardinals and songbirds, in general, love it but that is not the case for squirrels.

The frisky animals particularly dislike the bitter taste of the seeds and they never want to come near it. Therefore, people feed cardinals safflower food as they don’t want squirrels to steal the food.

You can either treat the birds to a whole tray of safflower seeds or mix them in with other birdseed to create a nutritious mix.

What is best about buying separate bags of a single type of birdseed is that you can make your own recipe. Add a handful of safflower, two bowls of sunflower seeds – you can work up just about anything for the birds.

What We Liked
  • Nutritious safflower seeds of great quality
  • Squirrel-proof bird treat
  • Allows feeders to invent their own recipes of bird food
What We Didn't Like
  • In some cases, it also drives away the cardinal birds
  • Many twigs, empty hulls inside

7. Cole’s CB05 Cajun Cardinal Blend

coles wild bird products cardinal blendIf bland birdseed sounds a bit boring to you, why don’t you try these spicy safflower seeds? This special birdseed mix offers a unique combination of the fiery chilies of Hot Meats with the popular safflower seeds. The little cardinals are fans of this treat, and you might even see other small friends flocking in your yard to get a taste of it.

The product promises 100% natural and chemical-free ingredients of great quality, so it is safe and healthy for birds. The flavored seeds appealed even more to the birds, and you will see it for yourself once you use it.

One huge plus point of this bird food is that it keeps the squirrels away. Unlike cardinals, squirrels cannot stand the spice.

The hotness of the seeds will put the animals off, preventing them from ever touching the bird food again. This would be a wonderful choice for those who have been forever irritated by those cheeky squirrels.

You can use the seeds on whatever types of feeders you own. But here is a small warning: be careful with the spice. Chili peppers can be a strong irritant to human eyes, nose, and skin. Make sure that you wash your hands clean after handling the seeds.

Overall, it is a very interesting product. If for a long time you have not seen any cardinal friends in your yard, you might want to consider switching to these spicy seeds. Birds will be very likely to be attracted by this product.

What We Liked
  • Has new and interesting flavor
  • Considered as a magnet for birds of all kinds
  • The spice will drive the squirrels away
What We Didn't Like
  • It took extra care when handling the spiced seeds
  • It is relatively expensive

8. Morning Song 11341 Cardinal Bird Food

morning song 11341 cardinal bird foodMorning Song Cardinal Wild Bird Food is a decent package of mixed birdseed (including black oil sunflower seed, white millet, safflower seed, and cracked corn) from Morning Song.

All types of seeds you can find here is the favorite food for many kinds of birds, especially red cardinals. This would be a suitable choice for anyone who is building a balanced diet for the birds.

The manufacturers have done their research and in the end, released this premium mix of birdseed. This product will provide all the necessary nutrients for birds at one sharing. It is also very convenient for the bird feeders.

This grain mix definitely does the trick – cardinals and other kinds of birds would consistently visit your backyards. As a bird lover, there is no happiness greater than watching all those beautiful feathered creatures flocking in your own place.

This product is also very easy to handle, and it leaves little or no mess afterward. You can use the mix in hopper or platform feeders. A big thumbs up for this great blend of grains for birds. If you are looking for a basic, simple choice of cardinals birds food, consider this one.

What We Liked
  • A convenient, excellent mix of grains for songbirds
  • Nutritious, chemical-free ingredients
  • Clean use
What We Didn't Like
  • You may find moths inside the bag
  • It’s a bit pricey

9. Songbird Selections 11968 Cardinal Bird Food

songbird selections 11968 cardinal bird foodComing up next, we present to you a nutrient-packed bird food that is specially formulated for songbirds. This product would be greatly beneficial for your cardinal birds since this product will provide all the necessary nutrients for them to grow and also be healthy.

As the name suggests, this bag of birdseed is a supreme blend of different types of grains (sunflower, safflower, millet,…) and also fruits. You may find raisins and cranberries in this pack, as a nod to the food that wild cardinals consume in their natural habitats.

This addition provides extra vitamins and minerals to the birds. It not only gives them the needed energy but also strengthens their immune system. This is the best treatment you could give your birdie friends. If they are healthy, they are for sure happy and you are also in a good mood.

Many efforts have been put into designing the best bird food formula. This final recipe is rich in fat, fiber, and other nutritional contents. The brand promises to bring out the safest and highest quality seed mix for your backyard birds.

This Supreme Wild Bird Food is a very competitive product. It is a whole package, giving the birds everything they need. You should definitely check out this brand.

What We Liked
  • A decent assortment of different kinds of nutritional seeds and fruits
  • Rich in fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals
  • There is a very detailed list of ingredients and nutritional values
  • Cater to different types of birds
What We Didn't Like
  • Certain birds won’t touch some types of seeds

10. Wild Delight Cardinal Food

wild delight cardinal foodOur last suggestion is a high-quality birdseed mix from Well Delight developed on an advanced formula. This product consists of various popular types of seeds, real berries, and real nuts. It is always good to feature dried fruits in the mix as they are very close to the diet of wild cardinal birds.

So, your feathered friends are in good hands with this product. They will grow healthily with all the much-needed nutrients they get from this mix. This delicious treat will also attract a large group of birdies to your backyard, just as you wish.

Another selling point of this product is that it has no fillers. The bag is packed with 100% natural and authentic birdseed, berries and nuts. It could be something that sets this bird blend apart from the same products from other brands.

Also, this bird food product uses no chemical preservatives. It is of great benefit for the birds, as they now could enjoy the most natural bird mix they can get. This should definitely be encouraged and promoted among brands of birdseed mix.

If you find this bird mix well-suited to your birds’ needs, make a purchase. Soon, a lively and colorful backyard filled with bird songs will take shape, and I’m sure you will be very satisfied with it.

What We Liked
  • Containing a wide array of seeds and fruits rich in nutrients
  • No seed fillers
  • No chemical preservatives
  • Affordable price
What We Didn't Like
  • There might be ants inside the bag

What to Look for When Buying Birdseed for Cardinals?

what to feed cardinals

Before purchasing any goods, it is advisable to do your research carefully. Several things need to be taken into consideration, including the price, the brands or the quality. The advice is never to rush it, or else you might end up buying a heavy useless pack of birdseed on impulse and never touch it again.

Here are some criteria that you would want to take note before buying a food product for your cardinals.

How Much Money do You Want to Spend on Bird Food?

Normally, this is the first question you should ask yourself. It is vital to limit the price range you are willing to pay. Only by doing this, you can limit the possible options and not overshoot the budget. There are cheap bird mixes, and expensive ones as well. Depending on needs and preferences, make a smart choice.

The expensive packs are not always the ones with the best quality. Keeping that in mind, you would not miss out on any decent bird mix at a much more reasonable price. Take care of the birds but also of your pockets.

What Ingredients do You Want for Your Birds?

My advice is to look for it carefully beforehand. Learn about the favorite food, the eating habits and the nutrients they need might give you the answer. Remember to read the label carefully so that you are well-informed of what you’re feeding your birds.

Each type of seed and fruit has its own benefits to birds. And every kind of bird has its own preferences and needs. You have to look for that before making any decisions. What the birds are lacking should be supplied timely.

Also, check if there are any hazardous ingredients or any potential substances that can cause allergic reactions, especially in families with small kids.

How About The Taste, Odor, and Flavor?

In order to attract a large flock of birds to your backyard, the food must be appealing to them. Different types of birds prefer different types of seeds. And each seed has their own textures, taste and flavors. Apparently we can’t ask the birds what their favorite is.

So, you should ask yourself “What kind of bird seeds do cardinals like?” and prepare likewise to attract them. By observing the birds’ eating habits, you can get pretty good clues as to what they like to eat.

Where to Buy The Food?

This is also a very crucial thing to consider. There are bird food available everywhere, from the local pet store, huge supermarkets to online shopping sites. It might take you sometime to decide where you should buy the food.

No matter where you would go for, the advice is the same. Only buy from the stores that you know them well through and can be trusted. On online sites, you can check the customers’ ratings and reviews for more reference.

In addition, the price may vary between different stores. You can totally shop around for the best deal. You might want to consider buying combos or in large quantities for a good discount.

What to Check on The Package?

First of all, you should look at the overall quality of the product. It should be neatly packed and completely sealed. Any signs of tears and rips are indicative of damages.

Secondly, look for the dates, both the manufacturing date and the expiration date. You would not want to buy a pack of bird food that has been sitting and gathering dust on the shelf for a long time. I also advise you to buy a resealable food bag for extended storage.

Thirdly, pay attention to the nutrition information. Once again, you should be well aware of what you are feeding the birds. If you are doubtful about the validity of the labels, ask the vendors directly for information and suggestion.

Other Important Factors to Consider

what do red cardinals eat

Red cardinals are not picky eaters. They can eat a wide range of food: from birdseed to insects and selected fruits. In the wild, cardinals are often attracted by berry plants, such as blueberry, mulberry, and others. It is important to note this down so that we can build a specified diet for cardinals based on it.

Regarding the types of bird seeds for cardinals, they prefer larger seeds. Cardinal birds have a big and strong bill that is designed to crack open the hard shells and pick up the large seeds. Some seeds we can name are sunflower and safflower seeds, milo, peanuts, or cracked corn.

Sunflower seeds are known as the all-time favorite of the birds. There are two types of sunflowers: black oil and striped. The striped seeds have a thicker shell than that of the black oil seeds, so you might want to consider this. Squirrels are also interested in these seeds, just like their avian counterparts. Watch out for them.

Safflower is another favorite food of cardinals. These types of seeds have a harder shell and a particularly bitter taste, so it may not appeal to certain bird species. But they are popular among cardinals. As for squirrels, they generally hate it. You can add these seeds into your own bird mix to ward off the squirrels.

Milo is a type of grass grain and it comes in two colors, or rather two varieties: red and white. Milo seeds are large, so they are often included in bird mixes to make it look abundant. The grain provides iron, fiber, and calcium.

Peanuts are also large seeds, hence a fast option to fill the feeders. The seeds are rich in fat, protein – a good source of energy for birdies during the cold winter. Peanuts also require extra care when being handled. They must be kept in a cool and dry place.

Different types of birds eat corn so you can feed them corn in shell or cracked corn. However, corn is a little more difficult to handle. It also attracts unwanted guests such as sparrows, bears, raccoons, and deer; while it gets easily contaminated without proper care.

People often prepare mixes of varied seeds for feathered visitors. There are premixed bird food bags in stores that you can purchase easily. Or you can create your own recipe by mixing different types of seeds together. The proportions are based on the specific preference of your birds.

Sometimes, seed fillers with little to no nutritional values are added to the bag to increase the weight. So, be mindful of it. Bird mixes could mean more waste since birds will pick up only what they like and ignore the rest.

Although seeds are cardinals’ favorite and oftentimes they are after the seeds, the birds also consume a lot of wild fruits. Fruits with large seeds are particularly popular with cardinals, for example, different kinds of berries.

Sometimes cardinals do eat insects. The young birds are often fed on soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars to get the protein they need to grow. Also, at the height of the breeding season, insects take up a large part of their diet.

Like any other animal, a good diet is key to a healthy life. Providing birds with clean, high-quality, and nutritious food is our way to help them grow strong and healthy. It is crucial to know what works for your little feathered friends since you don’t want to feed them things that they can’t consume.

A nutritious diet might help in the feather production, giving the beautiful vibrant signature look. You also see that birds tend to be more cheerful if they are fed enough and properly. Similarly, a natural and balanced diet gives them the energy for daily activities, as well as building up their immune system.

In that way, the birds are protected from harm, such as infections and diseases. Then, their overall well-being is significantly improved. You may see the cardinals in their most cheery state, which also gives the bird watchers great pleasure.

You also have to select proper feeders for cardinals. They are middle-sized birds, so it is best to have a sturdy feeder to handle their weight. The feeders have to be stable and comfortable enough for cardinals to perch on. It would be best if you placed the feeders near trees or shrubs, as cardinals like it there.

Cardinals are also ground feeders. You can scatter a few handfuls of seeds onto the ground for them to eat off. However, the ground is vulnerable to squirrels. Ground-feeding can give squirrels the chance to steal some seeds. If you don’t want to share the bird food with squirrels, consider it.

Cardinals will be very happy if you provide them with water. You can install a birdbath near the food place, so the birds can come by. It might take extra effort to clean and keep the birdbath nice and attractive to the birds. But it is worth it, I promise. Just imagine how crowded your heated birdbath will be in the freezing winter.

Once cardinals realize your backyard is a reliable food source, they will visit frequently and even make it their home. So, remember to check the feeders regularly. Refill the trays if they are empty, or change the contents if there is anything wrong with it.

Don’t forget to clean your bird feeders, as remnants and scum might build up inside the feeders. Scrub the feeders gently with a brush (I suggest using your old toothbrush for better maneuver) and rinse thoroughly with cold water. You can also use cleaning products to wash off the stains.

You will see cardinals often in the morning and in the evening. With their signature red plumage, cardinals can hardly be missed. At this moment, all your hard work will pay off. Just sit back and watch those beautiful small creatures in your beautiful backyards.

Feeding the birds is a meticulous process, but the result is worth it. Having little friends in your backyards not only beautify and liven up the house but also tighten the bond between human and nature. It’s always great to bring a little touch of nature into our homes.

Frequently Asked Questions

best food for cardinals

What are The Most Popular Cardinal Bird Seed Brands?

It must be really confusing to choose a suitable brand of bird food, we understand that. Some names you could consider are Wagner’s, Lyric, Kaytee and so on. They are family-owned brands that provide 100% natural and high-quality bird seeds.

Do Cardinals Eat Peanuts / Suet?

Yes. Cardinals enjoy large seeds, just look at some of their biology traits: thick and strong bill, curved beak. Peanuts are a right choice, you should definitely include it in cardinals’ diet.

Cardinals also eat suet. It would help if you prepared a suet feeder for the birds in the water, for extra energy needed in the cold weather. Generally avoid serving suet in summer, since it can go rancid in hot weather.

How to Attract Cardinals to Your Yard?

My best advice is to keep your backyard as close to cardinals’ natural habitat as possible. In the wild, cardinal birds live in secluded places such as forest edges, bushes, or dense shrubs. You can simulate a similar environment, and make sure there are places for them to hide in and take cover.

Cardinals do not like nesting boxes or birdhouses, so there is no need for them. Offer them suitable feeders and fill them with their favorite seeds. We recommend using hoppers or tray feeders so that they can devour the food comfortably. It is even better if you have a water source nearby.

How to Use The Birdseed Mix?

It is up to you to choose. You can simply pour out the seeds from the pre-packed food bag onto the feeder and leave it there in the backyard. Remember to refill it regularly.

Or you can make your own bird seed blocks, using the seed mix, water, and gelatin. Basically you mix all the ingredients until you get a paste-like mixture, then you can mold it into different shapes. And it is ready to serve.

How to Store and Care?

You should keep the seed bags inside, avoiding the heat and direct sunlight. It is also important to keep the seeds cool and dry, or else they might get mold. Keep them out of the reach of bugs, insects, rats, and squirrels. They like the seeds just as much as the birds.

Where to Buy?

You can either buy bird mix in local stores, supermarkets or on online shopping sites. No matter where you go, remember to check for the price and the quality of the pack. The prices may vary in different places, so it is better to shop around and compare different options. My advice is to buy from reliable sources only, for the best quality.


Choosing the right food is always the first important step in taking care of any animals. Apparently, the process requires great attention, efforts, and of course time. Only those with enough love and care for the feathered friends are able to deal with it. We are pleased to accompany you through all of that.

Each person might have their own definition of the best bird seed for cardinals. No matter what you do, we just hope that you can enjoy the beauty of bird-watching. To bird lovers, there must be no better feeling than chilling in your yard in the pleasant sounds of birds chirping on a relaxed Sunday morning.

4.8/5 - (14 votes)

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