Best Bird Feed For Cardinals

What is the best bird feed for cardinals?

When you’re looking to attract cardinals to your yard asking this question is a great place to start.

You see, attracting cardinals with food is one of the best ways to start watching them in your backyard.

However, if it’s the wrong bird food then you won’t even catch a glimpse of a cardinal tail feather.

What kind of birdseed do cardinals like?

The good news is that cardinals aren’t picky eaters.

But they do have favorites. Add those to your feeders and you’ll have them coming back to your feeders again and again.

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to look through all the recommendations let’s get to the nitty-gritty.

This is my number one choice for cardinals:

Wagner’s Cardinal Blend


Because it’s a pure blend of cardinals’ two favorite seeds: black sunflower seed and safflower seeds.

You won’t find any filler like milo, which the cardinals can take or leave.

Plus safflower seeds are perfect for keeping away pests like squirrels and startling.

However, let’s not just take my word for it. I asked the Birds and Wild readers: What’s your favorite bird feed for attracting cardinals to your feeders.

A lot of readers agreed that the Wagner cardinal blend was the best.

But there were lots of other suggestions too.

And that is what I’m going to share with you in this guide on ‘The best bird feed for cardinals’.

Ready? Then let’s go.

12 Best Bird Feed For Cardinals

1. Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower Seed

Feed Type: Speciality Seed

Ingredients: 100% Black oil sunflower seeds

The Wagner’s Black Oil sunflower seed is the perfect pure seed to add to your feeder to attract cardinals.

Cardinals love black oil sunflower seed as it’s packed full of fats which give them much-needed energy.

Black oil sunflower seeds also give the cardinals the challenge of breaking open the shell and getting the yummy meat inside.

You’ll find that black sunflower seeds are really easy to use and work well with regular tube feeders. But you can use them with a hopper or tray feeder too.

The great thing about black oil sunflower seed is that it attracts a variety of songbirds. You’ll also find birds such as Chickadees, Finches, Nuthatches, and Woodpeckers, alongside the cardinals.

What our readers love

  • Wagner’s is a well-known, trusted, and high-quality brand
  • Attracts a variety of birds to feeders
  • Made in the USA
  • Buy in bulk up to 70lb bags
  • Cornell Lab approved
  • Minimum levels of 14% protein and 35% fat
  • Wagner’s have a ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ refund policy

2. Lyric Cardinal Premium

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: Black oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, black-striped sunflower seed, buckwheat, and sunflower kernels

Lyric Cardinal Premium is a great seed blend with a good variety of attracting cardinals.

The seeds included are a great mix of high-energy fats, proteins,fiber and fibre which will keep your backyard cardinal healthy, all year round.

Using this seed blend will not only attracting cardinals but also blue jays, grosbeaks, nuthatches, titmice, and chickadees.

As there is a variety of seeds in this blend it’s best to use it on a platform feeder to get the most out of it.

You can use it with a hopper or mesh feeder too. But just be aware you may not get a big a variety of birds as you would with a platform feeder.

What our readers love

  • Minimum levels of 17% protein and 40% fat
  • Approved by the Wild Bird Feeding Institute
  • Made up of 70% sunflower seeds
  • Available in both small 3lb bags up to large 18lb bags
  • Bags have an inbuilt handle to make them easy to carry when filling your feeders

3. Wagner’s Deluxe Safflower Seed

Feed Type: Speciality Seed

Ingredients: 100% Safflower sunflower seeds

Wagner’s Deluxe Safflower seed is another great pure seed to add to your feeders for the cardinals.

The best thing about safflower seed is that the ‘good’ birds love it and the greedy, bully birds hate it.

That’s a great thing as cardinals can be quite skittish around other birds.

Plus extra bonus points for the fact that Squirrels hate it too!

Safflower seeds are quite difficult to open but your cardinals love this as a little feeding challenge.

I find that safflower seed is much better than black sunflower seeds in the mess department. Birds will leave some small hulls behind, but this clears easily. Unlike some of the mess left by the sunflower hulls.

You’ll find that safflower seed is a little more ‘premium’ in price than other birdseed. But if your feeders are regularly emptied by bully birds then you’ll agree it’s worth paying extra for the benefits it brings to your feeders.

What our readers love

  • Stops bully birds like starling and grackles
  • Easy to use in tube, hopper, or tray feeders
  • Minimum levels of 17% protein and 25% fat
  • Keeps squirrels away for your feeders
  • Ziploc bag to keep the seed fresh and dry in storage
  • Available in 5lb bags

4. Audubon Park Cardinal Blend

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: 60% Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, 40% Safflower Seeds

The Audubon Park Cardinal seed blend is a great alternative to the Wagner’s cardinal blend when it’s out of stock.

It’s an ideal alternative as the sunflower to safflower seed ratios are the same.

It’s also a great option if you don’t have much room to store your seed bags. It comes in a small 4lb bag size.

But it’s also available in 12-20lb bag sizes if you like to buy in bulk.

This seed blend I high quality and will have your cardinals coming back for more.

You’ll also find this blend will attract chickadees, purple finches, titmice, grosbeaks, and mourning doves to your feeders.

Audubon Park recommends you use this blend in a large, heavy, hopper-style feeder with good drainage.

What our readers love

  • Family-owned American made brand
  • Available in 4-20lb bags
  • Also available as seed cakes (Cardinals go crazy for these!)
  • Minimum levels of 12% protein and 33% fat
  • Can also use in platform feeders

5. Wagner’s Deluxe Wild Bird Food

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: Millet, Milo, sunflower seed, cracked corn

Wagner’s Deluxe wild bird food is a great starter seed for beginners.

It’s a bit of an all-rounder and will attract a wide variety of bird including cardinals.

The cardinals will particularly go for the millet and the sunflower seeds in this mix.

other birds such as finches, jays, and juncos will eat anything that’s left by the cardinals.

You’ll find that because these bags don’t contain as much specialty seed this keeps the cost down.

That’s important if you don’t want to spend a fortune on bird feed.

A word of warning, this blend contains cracked corn which is a major squirrel magnet.

What our readers love

  • Made in the USA
  • Great generic blend
  • Suitable for ground-feeding birds
  • Minimum levels of 9% protein and 4% fat
  • Good price to attract a variety of birds
  • Available in 10lb bags

6. Morning Song Cardinal Wild Bird Food

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: black oil sunflower seed, white millet, safflower seed, and cracked corn

The Morning Song Cardinal Wild Bird Food is an ideal blend of all the seeds the cardinals prefer.

I like how this blend is not full of the usual filler like milo which your cardinals won’t touch with a barge pole.

This blend seems to attract a good variety of birds such as House Finch, Chickadees, Nut Hatch and Blackbird.

You’ll have success using it in most feeder styles. Most readers found that using it in a tube feeder it was mainly eaten by the smaller songbirds.

So I’d opt for a tray or platform style of feeder for attracting cardinal with this one.

What our readers love

  • Good mix of cardinal favorite seeds
  • Minimum levels of 10% protein and 20% fat
  • Reasonably priced compared to other cardinal seed blends
  • Available in 5lb and 20lb bags
  • Family-owned American made company

7. Audubon Park Songbird Selections Cardinal Supreme

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: sunflower, safflower, millet, raisins, cranberries, and flaxseed oil

If you’re looking for a nutrient-packed cardinal blend opt with this Audubon park cardinal supreme.

This is a great winter option for cardinals as it’s full of fat, fiber, and nutrients to keep them going.

Our reader report that the cardinals ‘go through this like mad’.

Other birds like titmice, chickadees, blue jays, and finches enjoy this too. That means you won’t find much if any, waste when you use this seed in your feeders.

This seed blend has calcium mixed in, which is great for bird and egg health.

What our readers love

  • Crammed full of seeds and nuts cardinals love
  • Fortified with oil and calcium for extra nutrients to help bird thrive
  • Minimum levels of 11% protein and 25% fat
  • resealable bag for safe and dry storage
  • Available in 5lb and 10lb bags
  • Family-owned company based in the USA

8. Valley Splendor Elite Cardinal Delight

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: Black Oil Sunflower, Safflower, Berry Scent, Vitamin A & D3 Supplement

Ok, I can’t talk about this Valley Splendor cardinal delight blend without having the tune of ‘afternoon delight’ in my head.

And now you’ve probably got the tune in your head, sorry about that!

Ok back to the birdseed.

This cardinal seed bland is a great option if you’ve not been successful at attracting cardinals with other seed brands.

Why? Well, the infusion of the sweet berry scent gives it an attractive edge to your feeders.

The sweet scent will have those cardinals flocking to your feeders. Alongside other birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers, and nuthatches.

This seed is also fortified with vitamins A and D. Which helps keep your backyard birds as healthy as can be over breeding season and winter.

What our readers love

  • Berry scented to attract more birds the other cardinal blends don’t
  • Fortified with vitamins to keep bird healthy
  • Great price when buying in bulk
  • No filler seeds which get wasted in your feeders
  • Available in 7lb and 20lb bags

9. Wagner’s Songbird Banquet Wild Bird Food

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: black oil sunflower, striped sunflower, peanuts, safflower, and tree nuts

Doesn’t the Wagner’s Songbird Banquet sound like a feast for your backyard birds?

A variety of seeds and nuts is a great way to introduce lots of fat-rich feed to attract cardinals.

This blend is a hit with lots of birds including chickadees, Woodpeckers, Finches, Titmice, Nuthatches, Wrens, Bluebirds, and even Buntings.

The various nuts in the blend can really clog up your tube feeder. Opt for a platform or hopper-style feeder to serve up this blend.

What our readers love

  • Popular with a large variety of songbirds
  • All-natural high-quality bird food blend
  • Velcro and Ziploc sealed bag to keep the mix fresh and dry
  • No filler seeds
  • Available in 5lb bags
  • Made in the USA

10. Cole’s Cajun Cardinal Blend

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: sunflower meats, safflower, liquid habanero chili peppers, safflower oil

With feather that bright we should have known that cardinal would love a little spice.

The Cole’s Cajun Cardinal blend has all the cardinals’ favorite along with a little hot sauce thrown in.

The birds go crazy for the hot sauce. And even better?

The squirrels detest the spiciness of this seed blend.

Seriously, one taste and they will be running down your feeder with their tails between their legs.

This blend is more expensive than other brands. But you’ll find you’ll likely save money in the long run if your squirrels eat everything and don’t give the bird a chance.

What our readers love

  • Popular with a large variety of songbirds
  • Blend of cardinals favorite seeds
  • Chilli oils keep squirrels and rodents from eating the seed
  • No filler seeds
  • Available in 5lb bags
  • Attracts cardinals, bluebirds, chickadees, and titmice

11. Kaytee Nut and Fruit Blend

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: sunflower Oil; peanuts; Hulled sunflower chips; Mixed feed nuts; Safflower; Raisins; Striped sunflower; Hulled pumpkin seed; Dried cherries; Artificial cherry flavor

This Kaytee nut and fruit blend is perfect for attracting cardinals with a little dried fruit. Cherries are a favorite cardinal fruit.

The mix of seeds, nuts oils, and fruits helps you to offer the cardinals a mixed diet that keeps them healthy.

What our readers love

  • No mess from sunflower hulls
  • Minimum levels of 18% protein and 30.5% fat
  • Use in hopper, tube, and platform feeders
  • The cherry scent attracts more birds
  • No filler
  • Keeps birds healthy with a mixed diet

12. Kaytee Northeast Regional Wild Bird Blend

Feed Type: Seed Blend

Ingredients: Sunflower Hearts & Chips, Red Millet, Oil Sunflower, White Millet, Niger Seed, Golden Safflower, Peanut Hearts, Striped Sunflower

This Kaytee Northeast regional blend is a great option if you live in those areas of the USA.

You’re sure to attract lots of birds known to the northeast region. And one of those birds is the northern cardinals.

You’ll also see lots of Woodpeckers, Finches, Chickadees, Jays, Juncos, and indigo buntings.

This blend is recommended to be used in hopper and platform feeders to attract a good variety of birds.

This seed is usually very successful with the birds so you’ll go through it quickly. I recommend you buy several bags.

What our readers love

  • Formulated for northeastern birds
  • Minimum levels of 15% protein and 30% fat
  • Can be used in hopper and platform feeders
  • No filler
  • Good offers on Amazon

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Best Fird Feed for Cardinals

Cardinal Bird Feed FAQ

What is the best bird seed for Cardinals?

I suggest sticking with a basic high-quality blend of black oil sunflower and safflower seeds at first.

My go-to high-quality brand is Wagner’s cardinal mix.

What kind of food do cardinals eat?

Cardinals eat a variety of seeds, so it all depends on how much variety you want to offer them.

If you want to find more about then check out my guide on ‘what do cardinals eat’.

What is the best bird feeder for cardinals?

Cardinals love to comfortable perch as they feed. For that, the best style of feeder is a hopper or tray feeder.

Ground feeders also work well with cardinals.

Cardinals will use tube feeders but they’d have to work harder to use them.

Sorry to say that if there is a nearby food source with a feeder that is easier to use then they will go for the easy option.

Final thoughts

Filling your feeders full of bird food that cardinals love is one of the best ways to attract them to your yard.

My favorite is Wagner’s cardinal blend. But there are lots of great options for you to choose from.

They particularly like black oil sunflower and safflower seeds. So really any mix with these added is sure to be a hit with the cardinals in your area.

Offer your seed blend up in a variety of feeders to keep them coming back for more.

If you’re trying to attract cardinals to your backyard let me know in the comments what’s been a success for you.

1 thought on “Best Bird Feed For Cardinals”

  1. Great article! One of the best things a birder can offer is a buffet of those nutritious and delicious bird seeds. A bag of mixed seeds contain their favorites will make sure that they will be coming back for more, and regularly, during the birding season.


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