Do Cardinals Eat Worms?


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

do cardinals eat worms

Do cardinals eat worms? Yes, cardinals eat worms. They rely on worms in the wild to provide sustenance for their young. Cardinals also feed on insects, seeds, and fruits.

If you are caring for a cardinal at home or looking out for your feathered neighbors during the cold months, it is vital to know what food to feed them.

This will not only keep them full but increase their chances of survival at times when food sources are scarce. Let’s learn more about cardinals and the worms they eat.

Which Worms Do Cardinals Eat

Cardinals’ diet mainly consists of seeds, fruits, and insects. These birds can be picky with what they eat but can quickly adapt when necessary and settle on the available food sources they can feed on.

In the winter months, food is scarce for these non-migratory birds. They rely on whatever sustenance they find, including worms and what humans provide for them in feeders.

During the breeding season, birds look for high-protein food, and cardinals often turn to worms to feed their babies. Baby cardinals should be four weeks old before consuming worms so that their digestive system is strong enough to handle such foods.

However, it is essential to note that not all worms are consumed by cardinals and their fledglings. So, what worm species can cardinals eat?


  • Mealworms are a crowd favorite not only by cardinals but also by other birds. They are a good source of protein and minerals that cardinals need for growth and development. This type of worm is common in many bird feeders and is available in stores.
  • Tomato hornworms are notorious pests that tomato growers have to deal with regularly. But thanks to cardinals who feed on these creatures, you can easily control their populations and stop them from devouring your plants.

All you need to do is attract the red birds with sunflower seeds, berries, and safflower seeds. Bird baths with moving water is another useful addition.

  • Army worms are enticing for cardinals, too, especially when they have limited food options. While they prefer seeds, these red birds will not hesitate to feast on the black-striped caterpillars that cross their paths.

Other types of worms cardinals eat:

  • Cotton bollworms
  • Cotton Cutworms
  • Waxworms

While the majority of cardinals occasionally feed on worms, there are some species that eat worms less frequently than others. These include the Northern Cardinal and Dickcissel, which are less fond of eating invertebrates.


Do cardinals eat worms? Yes, they do! But it is not the first food source they’ll grab when given the option. During times when food is scarce and they have little to no option left, they’ll happily consume worms to survive.

The primary cardinal food you should include in your feeder to attract these beautiful red birds is nuts and seeds. But don’t be surprised when they forage for worms in your yard, too!

Have you witnessed a cardinal eat worms before? Can you recognize what type of worm it was? We are eager to hear your story about it!

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