For many winter bird watchers, there are few sights more rewarding than a brilliant flash of red against a field of white snow – a sure sign that a cardinal is paying a visit to your winter feeder.

There are several things you can do to create an attractive retreat for any cardinals that might be in the area, and to make sure they feel welcome year-round – including providing the right food (in the right style feeder) and water year-round.

Start by selecting a feeder that stands between six and eight feet above ground level, and be sure to use the stationary kind, rather than a hanging feeder. Cardinals appreciate the steady platform, and may avoid a perch that shifts or moves beneath them.

The best time to see cardinals is in the early morning and at twilight, shortly before dark. They are among the first and last birds to dine. The male cardinal is the brighter, crimson-crested bird, while the female’s plumage is a more subdued reddish-brown.

Cardinals LOVE sunflower seeds, and will often sift through your feeder to find them all before moving on to their second favorites – safflower seeds and buckwheat. Their strong bills are specially designed for cracking those larger seeds, and they’ll find plenty of them in Lyric Cardinal Premium Sunflower and Safflower Wild Bird Mix .

Find out more cool facts about cardinals (including their territories) here.