[FREE] Cardinal Birdhouse & Feeder Plans (PDF Download)

The northern cardinal is said to be among the most popular and admired backyard birds. They are loved by many people that they have been named as a state bird in seven U.S. states. Cardinals do not usually migrate so they can stay in birdhouses or feeders if they want to for nesting and breeding purposes. 

These songbirds are easily attracted to bird feeders in many backyards. And since they are non-migratory, a steady supply of food can greatly help them get through the winter season. Providing a birdhouse or feeder is one sure way of getting regular visits from cardinals. They can stay in one location so long as they have food and suitable shelter throughout the year.

But in order to attract cardinals to nest, you would need cardinal birdhouse plans to build something fun for them. And that’s what we cover in this article—everything you need to know about cardinal bird house plans and habitat.

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Cardinals don’t use traditional “bird houses”

Cardinals are one of the birds that backyard bird enthusiasts are most eager to attract to their yards. The male cardinal, with his bright red plumage, is one of the most recognizable birds.

Cardinals are “open nesters” rather than “cavity nesters” and, as such, are very unlikely to move into any standard bird house you provide. A box-type bird house may not be preferred by most cardinals as it is quite enclosed.

Common birds that build nests, for example, in between the branches of trees or shrubs such as goldfinches, cardinals, and doves, will not use a bird house.

However, you can still attract them to your backyards by considering their food and shelter needs when making plans for your garden landscaping project.

Before building a bird house, it is best to evaluate first the different kinds of nesting birds and their needs. Nesting birds are either cavity nesters or open nesters. The cardinals belong to the open nesters with their nests situated on tree branches or shrubs, so if you’d like them to visit your home, plant native trees, shrubs, and vines.

There are three main options to invite them to nest around your yar:

Nesting shelves – A type of open bird house tray where cardinals can build their nests in.

Providing nesting materials – A hanging wire cage filled with nesting materials like twigs, wool, feather, and fiber scraps is ideal during springtime. The frequency of birds visiting your home will depend on the right kind of house and environment you provide for them.

Cardinal bird feeders – This perhaps should be the first step. This will train cardinals to visit your backyard for food and soon, they will be starting to gather nesting material and so on.

Cardinals prefer nesting shelves

Cardinals prefer to nest in the branches of trees rather than holes in the trunk. Making an enclosed birdhouse for a cardinal will most likely be in vain, as the cardinal will ignore it, while cavity-nesting birds such as wrens and house sparrows will move in. A simple nest structure may encourage a female to build a nest.

So instead of building a standard enclosed birdhouse with a small circular entrance hole, we need to create a nesting shelf where these species will feel comfortable enough to make a nest. A nesting shelf is a tray-like ledge with a roof, attached to a tree or the side of any kind of structure, like under the eave of your house or porch roof.

There are quite a few species that will use nesting shelves. The list includes Blue Jays, Barn Swallows, Mourning Doves, House Finches, Eastern Phoebes, & Say’s Phoebe.

How to build a cardinal nesting shelf?

Nest platforms for cardinals typically use just a few pieces of scrap wood and common workshop tools like a hammer and nails. Make a structure 7 to 10 inches in height, with an 8-by-8-inch floor. Although paints and stains increase the longevity of the wood, cardinals may avoid the nest structure until the odor goes away.

There are different designs and sizes of nesting shelves, but the overall idea is the same – to provide a safe tray for building a nest. Here are some great free cardinal birdhouse plans to get you started.

#1. Cardinal bird house

Here’s a classical cardinal bird house shelf.

Image source: nestwatch.org

#2. Cardinabl bird house shelf

This is a similar design to the first cardinal bird house but act’s more as a multifunctional shelf.

Image source: nestwatch.org

#3. Robins' nesting shelf

Although this is for robins, it most likely will work for cardinals as well. Click here for the FREE Downloadable Cardinal Bird House Plan PDF.

#4. Nesting shelter

Click here to view Construct 101 cardinal bird house plans.

DIY Cardinal bird feeders (homemade)

The second tactic is building your own homemade cardinal bird feeder. Although cardinals can eat at almost any bird feeder available nearby, they like a stationary one placed over a hanging bird feeder. Feeders mounted on poles are more ideal in accommodating the birds. Cardinals also go for nests that are about five to six feet tall.

But how to make a cardinal bird feeder? Northern cardinals are very popular backyard birds. To attract cardinals to your homemade feeder, you will need a hopper bird feeder plan and a little bit of free time. Hopper feeders should provide solid footing. A recommended feed is sunflower seeds.

#1. Cardinal hopper bird feeder (classical)

Here’s the mos common cardinal bird feeder plan you can see around the block.

Image source: nestwatch.org

#2. Cardinal bird feeder design

This is another common hopper bird feeder plan. 

Image source: nestwatch.org

Where to place a cardinal bird house and feeder?

The nest platform should attach to a tree or within dense shrubs 2 to 15 feet off the ground. Nails and screws will damage the tree’s bark; rope or wire serve as better choices to secure the nest platform. 

Cardinals prefer cover – the more hidden the structure, the more likely it will get used. The addition of nesting materials such as pine needles or thin, flexible branches may encourage a pair to choose the platform as their nesting site.

Decide on a suitable tree branch for your Cardinal home. Ideally, it should be away from busy human activity. Cardinals generally prefer to build their nests at the height of approximately five to six feet off the ground. 

If you have no suitable branch, you can use a wall, a post, or whatever else places your birdhouse at the proper height. Take the size of your cage into consideration so that, when hung, the bottom of the cage is no lower than five feet off the ground.


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