Which Bird Feeder Plans Are Best for Cardinals?

It is no wonder why cardinals are a favorite backyard visitor for people, particularly in the north. It is a site for sore eyes indeed to see

This combination clear sided, hopper bird feeder with suet cake areas at each end are perfect for attracting cardinals with black oil sunflower seeds and suet cakes.

Red Cedar Hopper and Suet Bird Feeder

its brilliant flash of red and dignified crested head when the landscape has yet to show its colors.  These birds are notoriously skittish, though, and drawing them to your yard can be challenging.  Here are some tips that can help.

Your cardinal bird feeder plans should certainly include black oil sunflower seeds. These have high oil content, which appeals to cardinals, as well as other backyard birds, including chickadees, finches, sparrows, and bluejays.  This is an excellent choice if you want to draw a variety of wild birds – and you want to do it economically.  They are a terrific value.  While cardinals will eat a variety of fruits and insects, especially during the mating season, as well as seed like millet, they have been known to pick through all the seed in a feeder to find the sunflower seeds.

Another important aspect in attracting the cardinal is using a hopper bird feeder that has clear sides.  Because these birds can be timid, it helps attract and keep them if they can see the seed.  Positioning the bird feeder correctly also helps ensure that the cardinals will come.

Place it in an open area, and if you can, make sure there are berry-producing shrubs nearby.  Yards with thickets or hedges are favorites of cardinals because they nest there.  You can also increase your odds of attracting these

Beautiful bright red, male, cardinal posing as the regal bird he is.

The Cardinal

birds by giving them a water source for drinking and bathing.

Remember, cardinals aren’t migratory birds, so feeding them in the winter is important.  Instead of purchasing a pre-made feeder, you can find a variety of bird feeder plans for hopper and platform feeders that will be just as effective and much easier on your wallet.  For the cardinal, my favorite is the type pictured here which is a hopper style feeder with suet holders at each end of the hopper.  If you build it yourself, you can be sure they will come!

 

Making Your Own Feeder From Hopper Bird Feeder Plans

 

A hopper bird feeder has seed storage built right into the design. While there are drawbacks, the big advantage is that you do not have to refill

Free red cedar hopper bird feeder plans so you can build your own bird feeder for about a quarter of what it would cost you to buy one.

Red Cedar Hopper Bird Feeder Plans

them daily.

The handy hopper is perfect for those who can’t make the trek out to the backyard every day to refill it, as well as for those who like to keep their bird friends fed during the winter months.  The seed is kept in a covered container that protects it from the elements – and from overzealous birds and squirrels.  A small amount of feed is released from a slit at the bottom of the container into a tray.  As it empties, more seed spills out thanks to gravity.

It is a very simple system but remarkably effective.

These hopper bird feeders can accommodate commercial seed mixes, millet, sunflower, and virtually any seed you (and your birds) like.  You can keep squirrels and heavy birds from gobbling up your seed by making a weighted feeder. You can modify your bird feeder plans to add an adjustable counterweight designed to close the food access ports when a squirrel tries to eat.

You typically don’t have to fill the container every day, which is perfect when you’d rather spend a few more minutes in bed rather than trucking out to the yard. Birds who don’t make the first seating can still get fresh feed, and it is also a perfect solution for keeping your birds fed while you’re on vacation.

What could possibly be a downside to this great system?  In many designs,

Pictured is a red cedar hopper bird feeder with a plexi-glass hopper making it easy to see inside to know when to refill the hopper with bird seed.

Red Cedar Hopper Bird Feeder

the storage container takes up the bulk of the space, while the eating tray is reduced to a narrow ledge.  These feeders are also more expensive than

simple tray feeders. This makes sense because the design is more complex – but it doesn’t make it any easier on the wallet.

You can solve both of these problems with one solution: when you use bird feeder plans, you can make your own.  Just by using scraps of wood in your garage, you can create an efficient hopper bird feeder that has the features you want, like a wider tray beneath the storage container for more eating area, without the cost.

Birds Can Fall Ill From Using Poorly Designed and Filthy Bird Feeders

Just like people, birds can fall prey to illness. Many times these diseases come from other birds, which may have fed at the same time or just before other birds came to a feeder. Little did you or did the birds know  they

Excerpt from Hopper Bird Feeder Plans showing hopper, the roof like cover or lid, and the feeding area around the bottom of the hopper

Hopper Bird Feeder Designs Showing Roof Like Cover and Feeding Area

would leave your feeder on the way to sickness or even death. We can’t prevent sickness in birds anymore than we can stop it in ourselves, but we can certainly take precautionary measures to protect our bird visitors. As with humans, cleanliness is the first and biggest step toward being healthy, so regular cleaning of the feeder is very important. Another way your birds can fall ill is when they eat spoiled food. Usually, moisture from dew or rain is the cause for bird feed to spoil. The moisture can cause the uneaten food to become damp, which can lead to fungus and mold as well as to the general decay of the feed due to micro-organisms. In earlier posts, we’ve touched on, but haven’t thoroughly covered this critical issue, so we’ll take this opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of certain feeders and what you can do to keep them as healthy as possible for the birds you love.

There are certain features in the bird feeder plans you use that are critical to your birds’ health too, so let’s get started on learning the best practices for keeping your birds healthy. Platform or Tray feeders are easy to use for setting out virtually any kind of food out for your birds, but are the one design most open to the weather and to other animals and the waste they might leave while feeding on left over bird food. Not that birds don’t leave bird waste, they certainly do.

Platform and Tray feeders have the birds walking all over the food and leaving droppings in the process. As such, this type feeder needs cleaning daily and you should try to match the amount of food placed each morning with what the birds consume each day. Then, perform this daily cleaning at the end of every day in order to keep the other animals away at night. Make a diluted bleach solution to actually wipe the feeding area down about once every two or three months, and more often if it is rainy during the summers where you live.

Tube Feeders and Hopper Feeders should be checked periodically in the tube and the hopper for clumps of bird seed that has become moist and stuck together. This clumps of seed should be removed. Always try to check these types of feeders after a rain storm or rainy spell of weather.

Upside Down Suet Feeder with Roof Like Covering Over a Hardware Cloth Protected Suet Cake

Upside Down Suet Feeder With Roof Like Cover and Hardware Cloth Protected Suet Cake

Bird Feeder Plans should be chosen which have covers in the form of a roof over the hopper and which extends out over the feeding area around the hopper bottom. After any stormy weather the seed should be checked for moisture in the both the hopper and around the openings on the tube. These feeders should be cleaned periodically especially the area around the bottom of the hopper and any small areas where the birds can pull seed out of the tube while feeding.

If you are using a suet feeder, it is recommended you use bird feeder plans which have a design which protects the suet area under a roof like cover. See previous articles for the upside down suet feeder and the suet feeder built like a little house with a roof, and a tray around the caged suet area. During the winter, tending to these feeders is mainly an effort to keep the feeder supplied, but in the summer suet feeders need regular attention to make sure birds don’t feed on rancid suet or suet cakes. This is especially true in the south where the summers can be quite hot. A good rule for summer and suet feeders is to place them in shade in order to keep them as cool as possible.