Northern Cardinals are one of the most recognized birds throughout their range. Males with their bright red bodies and black masks can be identified by just about anyone. In the United States the Cardinal is the mascot of two professional sports teams, twelve colleges or universities and is the state bird in seven states so it is easily recognized by birders and non birders alike.
Attracting Cardinals to your yard is quite easy. They will accept almost any kind of seed, but their two favourites are black oil sunflower, and safflower. In my yard I have one feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds and another with a mix of the two. These birds can be quite territorial especially during the breeding season so spacing feeders out around your yard will get you more of this species. Cardinals are great ground feeders so they will clean up any seed that finds it way underneath your feeder. Northern Cardinals are generally the first and last bird at your feeder during the day. Their silhouettes can be seen on your feeder at first and last light, but will provide colour and beautiful sound to your yard all day long.
When not eating at a feeder Cardinals consume berries and seeds and prefer the cover of dense shrubs and thickets. Nesting also takes place in these same areas so consider planting your garden accordingly. In recent years I have added red osier dogwoods to my yard. These are a native species that provide excellent cover from predators as well as nesting areas for many birds. I have read where as many as 102 species of birds consume their berries with Cardinals being one of them. As well as attracting birds these shrubs with their red branches provide beautiful colour to any garden and really stand out in winter against a snowy backdrop.
Cardinals will nest in a birdhouse but prefer an open platform or shelf style. These types of houses should be mounted in dense shrubs and many sites suggest 2-15 feet off the ground. I would personally recommend higher than two feet because that at least rules out any non climbing predators such as cats from accessing it. Areas higher up in a shrub will also provide denser cover. Cardinals will generally not use the same nest area twice so it is recommended that the platform is moved to a new location at the end of the year.