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Friday, February 19, 2010

Stokes Feeder Friday, Cardinals

Northern Cardinal in mangroves in FL

Northern Cardinal in NH

Cardinals are featured today on our "Feeder Friday" blog post. We're in southern FL where we saw a Northern Cardinal at Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, FL, hanging out in the mangroves at the side of the drive. This always surprises us, we just don't associate cardinals being at the edge of a saltwater environment in mangroves. But there are plenty of cardinals here, and inland as well. There actually are 4 different subspecies of cardinals in different areas of the country. Even though the ones here and in NH are the same subspecies (Cardinalis cardinalis), the ones down here can give a much softer, sweeter, higher-pitched, "chip" note as part of their vocalizations, than the ones in our NH yard. It sounds more like a warbler chip-note and can be confusing to people who are down here looking for warblers.

People always want to know how to attract cardinals to their feeders. We have found that cardinals at our NH home prefer platform, hopper, or feeders with wide ledges, filled with sunflower or a seed blend with lots of sunflower. Often they just go to the ground to pick up dropped seed. Our NH cardinals do not like to go to tube feeders. In FL, however, we had cardinals happily using tube feeders.

What kind of feeders do your cardinals prefer and what kind of seed?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here in our yard (Ontario, Canada) the cardinals prefer platform or wide-ledge feeders near evergreens for shelter and protection from hawks. They prefer black-oil sunflower seeds (don't like the striped sunflowers as much) and cracked corn. Safflower seed doesn't interest them much but they will eat some. In the summer they especially like bits of peanut which they carry off to feed their young. (the birds don't seem to care if the peanuts are chopped up unsalted roasted peanuts or the raw peanuts labelled not for human consumption)

Kat said...

I was happy to find out that your Stokes products are available at our local farm supply store. Can't wait to check out the field book!

Ellen said...

You don't associate Northern Cardinals with mangroves; how about palm trees?! When we visited the Big Island of Hawaii last year, there they were, singing their hearts out. I also saw the beautiful Yellow-Billed Cardinal, which is also not native to Hawaii (originally from Brazil, apparently), and even a Wild Turkey! Truly bizarre.

We haven't had many cardinals here this winter for some reason, but they definitely like sunflower hearts.

Joy K. said...

Our gang of cardinals are all over the black-oil sunflower seed--it's clearly their favorite. They'll eat safflower if that's all that's out there, but they look at us reproachfully.

I was surprised to see that they really like suet during cold weather. They were carrying off enormous chunks of it during our record-breaking snowfall recently.

They definitely prefer to feed from a flat surface. We sprinkle sunflower seed on the railing of the deck each morning, and they eat all that's there before they go back to the feeders.

Anonymous said...

My cardinals seem to be the first birds to feed in the early am, and the last to feed at dusk, otherwise a rare sight during the day. They prefer my pole mounted sky cafe feeder, offers a nice ledge and is stable.

Kate said...

I am sad that we have no cardinals in the Canadian prairies....they have been sighted but are extremely rare. What a beautiful bird!