Updated at: 06-06-2023 - By: Jane Brody

Northern Cardinals should visit your bird bath frequently, but only if they are native to the state in which you hold office.

Cardinals are one of the most easily identified bird species thanks to the striking contrast between the male’s brilliant red plumage and the more muted coloring of the females. Like many other species of birds, cardinals frequently use bird baths. Cardinals are social birds who are happy to share their bird bath with other species when they need to cut their branches or replenish their water supplies.

Cardinals Big Bird Bath Users

Nothing, though, is more enticing to Northern Cardinals than the sight or sound of running water.

Cardinals, like most backyard birds, need to use a bird bath to preen their feathers and quench their thirst.

It would be quite a sight to witness a family of Northern Cardinals, including the adult male, the adult female, and the youngster, all bathing in the same bird bath.

While cardinals may be aggressive while competing for food at feeders, they seem to be much friendlier when it comes to sharing the rim or water of a bird bath with other feathered neighbors.

Cardinals like a bird bath that is either out in the open with no barriers or a smaller, more difficult to get hanging bird bath.

Cardinals can utilize this bird bath site year-round, or especially during drought or prolonged bouts of unseasonably hot weather, provided it is a safe habitat devoid of pests, pets, and people.

The bird bath should be filled to within two inches of its center with gravel to aid the bird’s footing and rocks for perching in order to accommodate this medium to large sized bird’s pruning needs.

Installing a solar-powered water feature with running water is another way to entice Cardinals to your yard, as they will be drawn to the sound of water and the variety of birds it attracts.

Cardinals BIG bird bath users

Northern Cardinals are a common backyard bird, so seeing one in a bird bath probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Common backyard birds like cardinals also make frequent use of bird baths.

Birds may be found in the United States and Canada all year round, regardless of temperature, therefore it’s not surprising that their bathing habits would vary from season to season.

When there is a prolonged period of dry weather or temperatures rise above average over the South and East, it can be harmful to the cardinal population.

If you put out food for Northern Cardinals at your bird feeders, they will eventually come to your bird bath to refuel on water and preen their feathers, which is why it’s important to keep it clean and filled.

You may easily identify a male or female Cardinal by their striking red plumage and black facial markings, or by their lighter plumage but still noticeable traits if they are females.

Cardinal families a common sight

Cardinals Big Bird Bath Users-2

Bird baths and other sources of water in your yard may attract brilliantly red Northern Cardinals.

The male cardinal is easily recognizable by his bright red plumage, while the female has a more subdued appearance.

Young birds often accompany their parents to the bird bath in the spring and summer, much like male birds often accompany the females to the bird feeders.

True, you’d be hard-pressed to ever see an entire family of Northern Cardinals at the bird bath at once, but keep in mind that there are plenty of ways to tell them apart.

It’s true that cardinals can be violent when protecting their food source, but they won’t show any of that behavior at the bird bath. Cardinals don’t mind sharing the bird bath with other species, whether they’re plucking their feathers or rehydrating.

If your yard isn’t particularly enticing for birds to feed, I wouldn’t be surprised if cardinals didn’t show up to your bird bath too often.

Self-pruning Cardinals apply

If a Northern Cardinal doesn’t take the time to keep his or her feathers in tip-top shape, he or she may be unable to take flight for the rest of his or her life.

Cardinals are known to perform feather maintenance in the water bowl of a bird bath.

That scenario would involve a lot of splashing around in the water and frolicking (see the main image).

Birds will choose the deepest portion of the bath to clean their feathers, so make sure your bath is no more than 2 inches deep if you want to attract Northern Cardinals.

In order to facilitate Cardinal pruning at the bird bath, clear the area around the bird bath of any obstructions. However, a gravel-lined base with a number of pebbles submerged halfway under water is preferable.

Cardinals, for example, need periodic trimming to keep their feathers in good condition, so providing them with clean water isn’t always the best approach to keep them around.

Re-hydration remains vital

Cardinals Big Bird Bath Users-3

It’s more vital for Cardinals to replenish their fluids with clean, running water from the faucet than it is for them to trim their feathers.

The ideal bird bath for Cardinals is one that is deep enough for the medium to big size of this backyard bird to securely enter the water bowl, or one that is wide enough for them to perch on the lip and sip from there.

Since Northern Cardinals are ground feeders by nature, a ground bird bath may be more suitable than a bird bath on a stand, where they are often observed bathing.

If you’re having trouble luring Cardinals to your bird bath, you might want to consider installing a ground bird bath instead.

A bird bath that is secure and simple to use is essential for ensuring that Cardinals have a place to drink.

Stones or water-safe gravel can be used to line the bird bath’s foundation, and placing a few rocks in the water will allow the birds to either perch on the rocks above the water’s surface to drink, or to step right into the bath itself.

Larger bird bath recommended

A larger, heavier bird bath with running water may be necessary to attract Cardinals, as the baths themselves are not enough to attract the birds.

Birds can sense whether or not a bird bath is secure, therefore if it is made of weak plastic or slippery ornamental glass, birds like Cardinals may avoid using it.

Northern Cardinals and other wild birds could use a bird bath made of very heavy stone without fear of harm. Even though metal bird baths are available, they must either be placed low to the ground or open to the elements atop a stand or pedestal.

Bird baths on stands of standard size are fine for most species of birds, but a larger one is preferable if you want to attract Cardinals.

In the event that your bird bath becomes crowded with Cardinals or a variety of other species, it is best to keep Cardinals at a safe distance from the water. Although they are generally docile on bird baths, you should not risk disturbing their young.

Even while many backyard birds, especially the smaller ones, are attracted to bird baths, larger birds like cardinals and blue jays may find the hanging bird bath style annoying due to the chains used to suspend the bath.


The Northern Cardinal is a frequent visitor to bird baths and is likely one of the most frequent bathers of any bird in the United States.

The absence of a cardinal from the bird bath on sometimes would certainly be surprising, as they continue to be one of your most common birds.

Cardinals will utilize a bird bath, even if it is in the incorrect spot or is neglected, as long as the water is clean and fresh.

In addition to the male cardinal’s brilliant red plumage, the black markings on his face and so to the female – is the most distinguishing trait, even on the young.

Cardinals are known to utilize bird baths frequently; but, if you only provide them with a little, flimsy choice, you may find that they quickly outgrow it.

The only acceptable location for a Cardinal bird bath is on the ground, or if you prefer, on a stand, where it is exposed to the elements.

Like other common backyard birds, cardinals may utilize bird baths to rehydrate and groom their feathers when the timing is perfect.

Although Northern Cardinals may visit bird baths, their utilization of them is highly dependent on the surrounding environment.

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