12 Best Bird Seeds for Cardinals (2020)

Adult Northern Cardinals eat many types of seeds. If you are a novice birder looking to feed cardinals for the first time, what is the best bird seed for cardinals you should put inside your wild bird feeder? Thankfully cardinals are not picky about seeds as the listed examples will show.

We Recommend

Best seed mix

Wagner’s
Greatest Variety

Best sunflower seed

Wagner’s 4 Season
Sunflower Seed​

Best berry mix

Wild Delight
Nut N’ Berry

Best bird seed for cardinals

1. Wagner's Four Season 100% Black Oil Sunflower Seed

What kind of seed do cardinals eat? They will eat almost any kind of seeds, and Wagner sunflower seeds are some of the best seeds for cardinals. 

This 20-pound bag of wild bird food contains 100% authentic black oil sunflower seeds, suitable for adult wild birds. 

Songbirds like cardinals are easily attracted to sunflower seeds because these seeds have a rich taste that is irresistible, and these seeds have a thin shell that is easy for them to crack open and consume. 

Sunflower seeds are high in energy and can be used to fill tube, hopper or tray feeders. 

It is recommended that if you are specifically trying to feed cardinals, you should have at least 2 to 3 different feeders to accommodate different types of seeds, and the varying feeding habits and cardinals and other wild birds. 

The most effective way of feeding cardinals sunflower seed would be to put the seed in platform feeders.

Check the price of Wagner’s Four Season 100% Black Oil Sunflower Seed here

What we liked

  • 20-pound bag of black oil sunflower seeds that are 100% authentic
  • No artificial additives. Sunflower seeds are the only ingredient
  • This seed can be used in tube, hopper or platform feeders
  • Contains 35% crude fiber, 24% crude fat, 15% moisture, and 14% crude protein
  • These clean seeds have a thin shell and are easy to crack open and consume
  • Provide high energy content to wild birds needing to recharge
  • Small twigs and pieces of wood come along with the seed, for cardinals to play with

Seed type: Sunflower
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Black Oil Sunflower

2. Kaytee Basic Blend Wild Bird Food

Kaytee Basic Blend wild bird food includes a number of different grains that will attract a wide variety of birds throughout all seasons in the year, including the Northern Cardinal. 

A tested and proven mainstay in backyard feeders, it is recommended for this seed to be used in a hopper feeder, large tube, and covered fly-through feeders. 

This blend is distinctive as it contains various grains, corn, stripped sunflower seeds, and black oil as its combination. 

Though sprouting from fallen seeds isn’t likely with this seed mix, there have been a few reports from customers that sprouts can indeed grow from these seeds. 

If you are looking for bird seed to attract cardinals, you should present as much variety in your seed mix as you can. 

Cardinal food preferences vary every day, so having a seed mix like Kaytee Basic Blend Wild Bird Food will give your feeder the variety it needs to keep cardinals interested.

Check the price of Kaytee Basic Blend Wild Bird Food here

What we liked

  • Basic wild bird food blend attracts a wide variety of wild backyard birds, including cardinals
  • Grains, corn, stripped sunflower seeds and black oil provide great variety in this seed mix
  • Nutrients such as Vitamin A and Vitamin D in this seed mix promote wild bird health
  • Can be used to fill feeders throughout all seasons in the year
  • Can be used in a hopper, large tube or covered fly-through feeders
  • 20-pound bag of seed is long-lasting and stays fresh well after opening it
  • Contains 12% moisture, 10% crude fiber, 8% crude protein, and 4% crude fat

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Grain Products, Sunflower, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement

3. Wagner's Classic Wild Bird Food

If you are a beginner at bird feeding, and you want to have the best cardinal bird seed mix, then you might want to start with Wagner’s Classic Wild Bird Food. 

Having a solid mixture of white millet, milo, cracked corn, and black oil sunflower, this seed mix makes for high-quality food for many species of wild birds to enjoy. 

This seed mix is a traditional blend that is a proven formula, and it is perfect for various types of feeders, including tube, hopper, and platform feeders. 

Some of the best bird food for cardinals includes white millet, stripped sunflower, and black oil sunflower seeds in particular. 

This seed mix can easily be consumed by cardinals and other wild birds as the sunflower seeds can be cracked open without any hassle. 

Cardinals are not known for eating milo or corn, but this is overall very suitable for the cardinal bird diet.

Check the price of Wagner’s Classic Wild Bird Food here

What we liked

  • Great to use in all 4 seasons of the year
  • Can be used in tube, hopper or platform feeders
  • Contains 13% moisture, 10% crude fiber, 9% crude protein, 4% crude fat
  • Can be stored in a cool, dry place to retain its freshness
  • 20-pound bag of seed is long-lasting and suitable for adult wild birds
  • This product is not GMO-free, so if you have concerns about GMO foods, you may consider other options
  • The ingredients give cardinals a healthy, balanced diet when feeding

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: White Millet, Milo, Cracked Corn, Black Oil Sunflower

4. Audubon Park Wild Bird Food

Coming in either a 5-pound bag or a 20-pound bag, this package of sunflower seeds is sure to appeal to cardinals as it is recommended to be one of the best cardinal bird food to provide outdoors. 

Audobon Park Wild Bird Food is a special blend that is designed to attract wild birds throughout the entire year, and cardinals are no exception. 

Safe, natural, and nutritious, you will discover that this seed mix works very well in almost any kind of bird feeder, including a hopper, tube, or platform feeder. 

This seed mix is healthy for cardinals to consume because it is very low in fat content, and it provides enough fiber content for cardinals to keep going throughout the course of a day. 

Made with quality care by a family-owned and bird-loving company in the United States, this seed mix is best suited for wild birds that are of adult ages.

Check the price of Audubon Park Wild Bird Food here

What we liked

  • Can be used in hopper, tube and platform feeders
  • Comes in either a 5-pound or 20-pound bag
  • This seed mix is designed to attract cardinals all year long
  • Safe, natural, and nutritious. Features no artificial additives
  • Contains 12% crude fiber, 7% crude protein, and 2% crude fat
  • This seed mix is easy for cardinals to break down and consume
  • Works best in clean, dry feeders as long as the mix kept fresh

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Grain Products, White Proso Millet, Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

5. Wagner's Greatest Variety Wild Bird Food

If you are looking for the widest variety of songbirds to arrive at your backyard, then the Wagner’s Greatest Variety mix is a good chocie. 

Designed to appeal to all sorts of wild birds, this seed mix has key ingredients that cardinals will love, such as black oil sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, and sunflower chips. 

Though they enjoy eating sunflower seeds, do cardinals eat safflower seeds as well? 

According to Wagner’s Bird Feeding Preference Chart, safflower seeds are strongly preferred by cardinals. 

Also included in this seed mix are small portions of peanut pieces, cracked corn, tree nuts, and raisins. 

All ingredients included in this mix can be easily broken down by cardinals and other wild bird species and consumed without any trouble. 

While this product doesn’t provide the largest bag, as its maximum size is a 16-pound bag, it is loaded with nutrients that will keep cardinals happy and healthy.

Check the price of Wagner’s Greatest Variety Wild Bird Food here

What we liked

  • Comes in either a 6-pound or 16-pound bag
  • This seed mix features an abundance of varying seeds
  • Contains 26% crude fiber, 16% crude fat, 13% crude protein, and 13% moisture
  • 40% of this seed mix features black oil sunflowers, a favorite food for cardinals
  • Appeals to both ground-feeding birds and perching songbirds
  • Can be used in hopper, tube or platform feeders
  • Strongly preferred by Wagner’s to be a cardinal blend of food

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Black Oil Sunflower Seed, Safflower Seed, Sunflower Chips, Nyjer Seed

6. Wild Delight Deck, Porch N' Patio Wild Bird Food

Sometimes the best food for cardinals can come in small packages, and Wild Delight cardinal food could be the best option for your backyard depending on how you feel about foods like corn, milo, and millet. 

What sets this seed mix apart from many others is that corn, milo, and millet, which can be considered to be fillers, are not included as ingredients. 

All ingredients that are included in this seed mix are 100% edible, which means that there will be less of a mess and less waste to clean up after cardinals finish having their meal. 

Hopper feeders, tube feeders, and platform feeders are all serviceable when it comes to providing this seed mix to cardinals. 

Alternatively, you can place this seed mix down on the ground for the cardinals to gather up. 

Though this bag of seed mix contains a significant amount of fat content, this is a reliable food for cardinals.

Check the price of Wild Delight Deck, Porch N’ Patio Wild Bird Food here

What we liked

  • Contains no fillers such as corn, milo or millet
  • Contains many nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D-3, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin C
  • Contains 40% crude fat, 18% crude protein, 12% moisture, and 7% crude fiber
  • 100% edible seed mix, which means less mess and waste
  • Can be used in hopper, tube or platform feeders
  • This seed mix is designed to prevent any seed growth under your feeder
  • No chemical preservatives are added to this seed mix

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Sunflower Kernels, Peanuts, Pistachios, Hulled Pumpkin Seed

7. Wild Delight Nut N' Berry Bird Food

Coming in either a small 5-pound bag or a large 20-pound bag, this Wild Delight seed mix features a solid variety of flavors as it has a balance of nuts for protein and berries for a sweet taste. 

This seed mix has enough ingredients to please many wild bird species, including cardinals. 

Essential vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and amino acids that wild birds need can be found in this seed mix. 

What is also reassuring is that no chemical preservatives are included in any of the ingredients in this food, so cardinals are guaranteed to have a healthy meal. 

Consumers that are concerned about fillers like corn or millet won’t need to worry about this seed mix because this food contains no fillers. 

While the only concern you may have with this product would be the amount of crude fat, Wild Delight Nut N’ Berry Food is overall a very healthy option to use as cardinal food.

Check the price of Wild Delight Nut N’ Berry Bird Food here

What we liked

  • Fortified with essential vitamins such as A, B12, C, D3, and E
  • Contains 35% crude fat, 18% crude fiber, 16% crude protein, and 12% moisture
  • Contains no corn, millet or other fillers, which means less of a mess to clean up outside
  • Free of chemical preservatives, which means you are giving cardinals safe food to eat
  • Comes in either a 5-pound or 20-pound bag
  • Can be stored in a cool, dry area to maintain freshness
  • Ingredients favor a well-balanced cardinal diet

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Sunflower Kernels, Sunflower Seed, Safflower Seed, Dried Raisins, Dried Cranberries

8. Kaytee Nut & Fruit Blend Wild Bird Food

Though Kaytee Nut & Fruit blend comes in a small 5-pound bag, you will be getting a high-energy mixture that is designed to help wild birds get the replenishment they need to take on the day. 

This seed mix is suitable to distribute throughout the course of an entire year, and it is easy to place inside any kind of feeder, including hopper, tube, and platform feeders. 

Natural ingredients like raisins and cranberries help attract a wide variety of bird species, and they help promote a healthy cardinal bird diet. 

Even if it turns out that cardinals aren’t attracted to certain ingredients, other wild birds will be attracted to them and consume them. 

This fruity seed mix contains enough health benefits for cardinals.

Check the price of Kaytee Nut & Fruit Blend Wild Bird Food here

What we liked

  • This seed mix provides a great source of energy for year-round feeding
  • Can be used in any feeders like hopper, tube or platform feeders
  • Contains 30.5% crude fat, 18% crude protein, 14% crude fiber, 12% moisture
  • Can be stored in a cool, dry place, but preferably should be in a sealed container
  • Fruity flavors in cherries, cranberries, raisins and pumpkin seeds help entice cardinals
  • 100% edible ingredients that can be easily cracked open
  • A suitable seed mix for the daily cardinal bird diet

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Chips, Hulled Pumpkin Seeds, Dried Cherries

9. Audubon Park Cardinal Blend Wild Bird Food

Audubon Park Cardinal Blend provides a healthy meal for cardinals. 

While there isn’t that much variety included in this bag, you are guaranteed to get natural seed that isn’t artificially enhanced in any way. 

Alternatively, you can purchase a larger 14-pound bag of seeds that only contain black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds, but sometimes in the case of cardinals, less is more. 

The best seed for cardinals is the kind that isn’t overwhelming in options, so having just two seed types to choose from is actually more ideal. 

Sunflower seeds and safflower seeds make up a cardinal’s favorite food, so you will know what results you will get from this bird food. 

It is specifically recommended to use this bird food in large, heavy hopper or platform feeders. It also helps that these favorite seeds of cardinals are disliked by pesky squirrels.

Check the price of Audubon Park Cardinal Blend Wild Bird Food  here

What we liked

  • Balanced 50/50 blend of sunflower seeds and safflower seeds for cardinals
  • Can be used in either hopper or platform feeders
  • No artificial additives are included in this bird food
  • Contains 33% crude fat, 27% crude fiber, and 12% crude protein
  • Contains no fillers such as millet, milo or corn
  • Can be stored in a cool, dry area to maintain freshness
  • 100% edible, which means less of a mess to clean up after cardinals eat

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Safflower Seeds

10. Brown's Bird Lover's Blend Cardinal Buffet Wild Bird Food

If you are specifically looking for an abundance of safflower seeds to feed cardinals, then Brown’s Bird Lover’s blend is the right choice. 

Safflower seeds play a big part in this gourmet blend, giving backyard birds an energy boost that will last them through each season of the year. 

This seed mix contains high-oil seeds and rich flavors thanks to ingredients such as golden raisins and peanuts. 

While they may not care so much about cracked corn, cardinals will appreciate every other ingredient that is inside this bag. 

It is preferred that this seed mix be distributed in areas where nesting boxes are present, and this is especially the case if you are looking to entice cardinals to come to your backyard. 

Though you will only get a limited amount of bird food in this 7-pound bag, you will be getting a blend that is guaranteed to satisfy the eating habits of cardinals.

Check the price of Brown’s Bird Lover’s Blend Cardinal Buffet Wild Bird Food here

What we liked

  • Contains sunflower and safflower seeds, two of the cardinal’s most favorite foods
  • Golden raisins and peanuts provide rich flavors that wild birds will love
  • Contains 32% crude fiber, 23% crude fat, 15% moisture, and 14% crude protein
  • Can be distributed in nesting boxes and similar devices
  • All ingredients are 100% edible and can easily be broken down by birds
  • No artificial additives included, making this blend a safe option
  • Cracked corn can be put aside separately if you are only feeding cardinals

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Sunflower Seeds, Safflower Seeds, Peanuts and Golden Raisins

11. Audubon Park High Energy Suet Wild Bird Food

Audobon Park is a trusted brand for bird food products, and this treat for wild birds is something particularly special for songbirds like cardinals. 

This package comes in a box that contains 10 separate suet cakes that can be easily hung or attached to various devices. 

These suet cakes are rough and solid at first glance, but can easily be broken down once wild birds get a hold of them. 

Rendered beef suet and black oil sunflower seed make up half of the ingredients that are in these cakes, which means that cardinals will likely enjoy eating these treats. 

Occasionally offering these suet cakes in your backyard would be suitable for cardinals’ feeding habits. This suet package was made to attract birds that would prefer a higher-fat diet instead of just having bird seed alone. 

Small basket feeders are the perfect choice for suet cake placement as they can hold solid blocks of food.

Check the price of Audubon Park High Energy Suet Wild Bird Food here

What we liked

  • Sunflower seed and beef suet will help entice cardinals to come to your yard
  • Ideal for placing in a small basket feeder
  • Can be hung or attached to various devices, including those that have hooks
  • Contains 10 separate suet cakes, which weigh 11.75 ounces each
  • Provides a higher-fat diet option for cardinals
  • All ingredients can be easily broken down by cardinals when eaten
  • Even when broken down, suet pieces can be reused with bird seed

Seed type: Suet
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Beef Suet, Cracked Corn, White Millet, Black Oil Sunflower Seed

12. Birdola Beetle Mania Bird Seed Cake

A small package of 2.5 pounds, this product made by Birdola, is a rich source of vitamins and minerals for cardinals and other wild birds you wish to attract. 

Vitamins A, B12, D3, and E are all provided in these bird seed cakes. 

One unique ingredient included in these cakes would be freeze-dried beetle larvae, which is exactly what wild birds prefer to eat. 

The scent of larvae that is in these cakes should entice cardinals and other birds to investigate the cakes. 

These seed cakes are held together by gelatin so that birds can peck at whatever they want and leave the rest of a cake intact. 

Cardinals are kept in mind with this seed cake recipe as it contains black oil sunflower seed, a favorite food among cardinals. 

These seed cakes can be hung inside various kinds of feeders, and they can also be stored inside small cages.

Check the price of Birdola Beetle Mania Bird Seed Cake here

What we liked

  • Contains Vitamins A, B12, D3 and E
  • Contains 24% crude fiber, 18% crude fat, and 10% crude protein
  • Freeze-dried beetle larvae combined with black oil sunflower seed makes for a unique blend
  • Gelatin holds seeds together so birds can peck at whatever they want without trouble
  • Seed cakes can be hung in various feeders, or can be stored inside cages
  • Seed cakes come in a tight, sturdy package
  • The potent scent of these seed cakes encourages competitions at feeders

Seed type: Seed Mix
Lifestage: Adult
Main ingredients: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, White Proso Millet Seeds, Red Millet Seeds, Freeze-Dried Beetle Larvae, Gelatin

What is the best bird seed for cardinals?

Determining what is the best seed for cardinals is an easy but delicate process. Since they live and forage in suburban areas, small towns, woodlands, swamps, or farmland, cardinals never have to travel far for food. 

They love to eat fruits such as cranberries, raisins, and cherries. If you see these fruits in seed blends, you should consider buying those blends. Cardinals also enjoy having variety, and like many other wild bird species, cardinals could get tired of having the same fruit in a seed blend over a long period of time. 

Cardinal bird seed mixes should include seeds that can be easily cracked open by cardinals as they bite into it. Foods that are too hard to bite into won’t be appreciated.

If you can find a combination of Wagner’s Four Season 100% Black Oil Sunflower Seed and Wild Delight Nut N’ Berry Bird Food, for example, then you could have the ideal red cardinal food.

Related5 Best Cardinal Bird Feeders (+How to Attract Them)

What seeds do cardinals eat?

Cardinals are not picky about seeds as they will eat black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, squash seeds, and 39 types of weed seeds. 

Black oil sunflower seeds have thin shells, which make it easy for cardinals to crack them open with their beaks. These tiny black seeds are ideal red cardinal food as it energizes cardinals for their travels.

It is safe to feed cardinals safflower seeds as they are a favorite food of theirs. One great advantage safflower seeds have other seeds that squirrels and house sparrows have a strong dislike for them, so cardinals won’t have to compete for these seeds at feeders.

Related15 Cardinal Bird Facts You Didn’t Know (2020)

How to choose the best bird seed for cardinals?

When you check on the labels on the back of bags or packages, you should be able to tell right away what cardinals or other birds you wish to attract will be getting in a product. 

Otherwise, you won’t be successful in your yard. While purchasing foods that attract multiple wild bird species is a good idea, you want to make sure that the ingredients cardinals love won’t be overshadowed by the ingredients they don’t care about.

Fillers and additives, such as millet, milo, and cracked corn, are ingredients in bird food that only provide benefits when it comes to flavoring, but not necessarily healthy benefits. 

Look for special flavors that make for spicy bird seed, will attract cardinals such as freeze-dried larvae. Nutritional value clinches your purchase of bird food because if it contains significant amounts of vitamins and minerals, cardinals will get the energy they need to take their flights for the day.

Related12 Tips on How to Attract Cardinals to Your Yard (2020)

Scroll to Top