Many cardinal lovers are also a crafty bunch so why not handmake your own cardinal bird feeder? DIY bird feeder inspiration is widely available online but are they all suitable for cardinals? No, they’re not! What’s the point of a DIY cardinal bird feeder that cardinals won’t use? Don’t waste time, effort, and money creating a handmade bird feeder, with the intention of feeding northern cardinals, that no cardinals will use.
In this article, I explain why northern cardinals won’t use just any old bird feeder, what kind of feeder they will use, and my hand-curated selection of DIY Cardinal Bird Feeders for your next project.
why northern cardinals Won’t Use “Any Old” Feeder
Cardinals are almost 9″ long making them relatively large perching birds compared to chickadees, another common feeder bird, which is only about 5″ long,
Because of their size, cardinals need a perch that’s further from the food than a smaller bird would need. If you’re visual like I am, check out the illustration below.
If the cardinal has to twist themselves into a pretzel to get at the food, they’re unlikely to return. We want northern cardinals to return again and again so need a bird feeder that’s comfortable and easy for them to get at the food.
What kind of bird feeder do cardinals like to use?
Cardinals prefer feeders that allow them to perch forward-facing as they bend over to eat. This essentially requires a large base and/or open area above.
When buying a cardinal feeder I recommend the platform-style feeders which offer maximum perching space for a larger-sized bird like the northern cardinal to comfortably land, lean forward, and eat.
“But Tammy, I’ve seen cardinals eating from all kinds of feeders”. True! But that doesn’t mean it was suitable for them. I would imagine if they get hungry enough they’d make any feeder work but I’m talking about feeders that are “suitable” for cardinals.
Cardinals also like feeders that hold the type of food they love including black-oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, hulled peanuts, cracked corn, and seed mixes.
You can start by making sure your yard is inviting and friendly for cardinals. Download my FREE guide & checklist How to Create a Cardinal-Friendly Yard and you’ll have families of cardinals coming to visit year-round.
10 Hand-Selected DIY Cardinal Bird Feeders
I spent hours scouring Pinterest and Google looking for DIY bird feeder ideas then reviewing each design for “cardinal suitability”. The feeder must provide a perch large enough for them.
I found well over 100 handmade bird feeder ideas and fell in love with many of them but only a small fraction was actually suitable for cardinals. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Popsicle Stick Bird Feeder by Tonya Staab
Tonya’s handmade feeder from popsicle sticks is so sweet and simple. The best part is it models the platform-style feeder that is perfectly suited for cardinals. I almost guarantee if you build this DIY bird feeder, cardinals will use and love it!
What I really liked about this feeder is the natural feel and neutral vibe. It’s just wood and twine (and glue)!
Also, if you have kids they can easily help with the project.
2. DIY Platform Feeder by Birds & Bloom
This DIY feeder is a cute little platform style and practically designed for cardinals. The open area and four corners of the base enable a cardinal to perch and feed on it.
This design is more on the woodworking end of the craft spectrum so if you can use a hammer, drill, and saw it should be in your wheelhouse.
Maybe you’d rather have an already made platform bird feeder.
I found the perfect one – and it’s ideal for large perching birds like cardinals. Check out the “Best Overall” Cardinal Bird Feeder.
3. Upcycled Bird Feeder by Cutesy Crafts
I love me a pop of color in my yard so was ecstatic to find this bird feeder design by Cutesy Crafts.
Cardinals will be fine dining from this feeder. It offers ample space for them to perch from. And, since it’s round they have a multitude of places to pull up and have a snack.
I like this project because it’s also eco-conscience. You can either use a platter you no longer use or make a trip to the local second-hand store and pick one up for a couple of bucks!
4. Bowl & Plate Feeder by Erins.Creative.Energy
Here’s an oldie but a goodie! I found this cool bird feeder plan from deep in the archives of Erins.Creative.Energy.
As you can see from the photo, cardinals have plenty of room on this style feeder and find it suitable for perching.
I like the cover on this design to help keep the bird seed dry.
The Bowl & Plate Feeder is Pretty Cool.
What if you decided you didn’t want to make your own cardinal feeder. I found the perfect already made cardinal feeder with a cover and platform just like the Bowl & Plate above. Check out the 3 Best Cardinal Bird Feeders.
5. Flower Pot Feeder by All Things Heart & Home
For all you terra-cotta fans (you know who you are!) I give you – the Flower Pot Feeder. No garden is complete without terra-cotta, somewhere, for some reason. In this case, a useful bird feeder that cardinals are sure to love.
I would recommend using a larger base for the bottom for even more space for our cardinal friends to comfortably perch and eat.
I really like that this feeder also keeps the birdseed relatively dry.
6. Paper Plate Bird Feeder by Happy Hooligans
This simple, kid-friendly bird feeder project makes an ideal feeder for cardinals. Large and wide space enables cardinals to comfortably perch anywhere around the plate.
I also like that kids can get in on the fun! Maybe they’ll grow up to be backyard birders like us!
7. Dollar Tree DIY Feeder by The Shabby Tree
This bird feeder design gets an A+ for ingenuity. Cardinals are sure to love this design. Since the chain hangs from the top, cardinals have 360 degrees of complete freedom to perch and enjoy breakfast.
For under 5 bucks you have a platform-style feeder with a dome cover to help keep birdseed dry – I love that!
8. An Upcycled Bird Feeder by Suburble
This eco-friendly feeder is a clever way to make use of an old peanut butter jar. It can hold the foods northern cardinals love and offer a large base for comfortable perching.
And with just a few holes in the bottom, the birdseed has a good chance of staying dry.
9. DIY Sunflower Bird Feeder from an Upcycled Lamp by Premeditated Leftovers
I love this design because it’s large enough for a family of cardinals to comfortably feed on.
The best part – it looks really cool and is a great way to upcycle a lamp you no longer use. I love this design so much I’d go find a lamp to make it!
10. DIY Wooden Gazebo Feeder by Family Handyman
This design is really amazing! If you’re comfortable using a jigsaw and drill with giant bits, you could pull this project off!
With the ample entryways and access to the food, northern cardinals are guaranteed to use it. I really like the roof as it offers the food some protection from the rain & snow.
What if None of These DIY Cardinal Bird Feeder Ideas Appeal to You?
If these handmade bird feeders do not appeal to you for you decided you really don’t want to make one, you can always buy one. But which one? There are so many options! I spent many hours searching and analyzing bird feeders on the market to find the perfect cardinal-friendly feeder.
Save for later on Pinterest!