How do I attract cardinals to my backyard?

cardinal on branch

The Northern Cardinal is likely the "most wanted" bird by home owners. But, while it comes to many backyards, some people never seem to see them. Cardinals are often nervous about going into the open, so if your yard is quite open, try planting shrubs and small trees. Not only will they provide perches and cover in the winter, they provide fruit and nesting sites in the summer months. Try species such as dogwoods, ninebark and nannyberry. Conifers such as white spruce and cedar provide very good winter cover. Because it may take a while for your shrubs and trees to get big enough, a quick solution is to collect your neighbours old Christmas trees - really! You may have people give you some odd looks as you drag their curbside post-holiday tree down the street to your home, but these leftovers provide great habitat for wintering birds. I've done this many times and the birds used them a lot. I suggest collecting 3 dense, tinsel-free (birds might get tangled) trees and lean them against each other in an upright position. Most species of conifers will keep their needles for a long time if kept outside and this makes them nice to look at as well as bird-friendly. In the spring, I just put them at the back of the property as a brush pile.