do birds eat cosmos seeds

I overheard a neighbor tell her children to check out a large butterfly. Then, as it flew over the privacy fence into my garden, she added, “I guess it’s going to the neighbor’s yard where they have all of those flowers.”

That’s the way it is with wildlife, not just butterflies. If you want some to stick around, you’ve got to provide what they need to survive — at a minimum shelter, water and something to eat.

There are two ways to go about creating a wildlife-friendly garden. The scattershot approach involves providing a water source and a wide diversity of plantings with a mix of flowers, shrubs and trees that create expanses of sunlight alternating with patches of shade. These conditions approximate the habitat requirements of a large number of wildlife species. If you’re after a particular critter, it helps to find out what type of habitat it seeks and try to replicate this as closely as possible.

Take, for example, the goldfinch — my husband, Randy, has a thing for these brilliant yellow birds. The first consideration is whether goldfinches inhabit the area where I live. (I wouldn’t have much luck if I were trying to attract parakeets.)

Goldfinches do indeed spend summers in my part of the metro area (Centennial). I often see them in the field next to my home in spring, eating dandelion seeds. In late summer, goldfinches feed on wild annual sunflowers in my garden. At other times, they’re only infrequent visitors.

An online search reveals something I had not anticipated. Most songbirds switch from eating seeds to insects during nesting season, then turn back to seeds for fall and winter. But goldfinches are true vegans, possibly an adaptation to defend against the cowbird, a bird that lays its eggs in other bird’s nests. Cowbird chicks that have the misfortune of hatching in a goldfinch nest starve within a few days when fed exclusively on the diet of seeds that goldfinches feed their young.

For the most part, I’ve got the goldfinches’ habitat needs covered. My mistake is being a tidy gardener who cuts off seed heads until late summer, when I start to anticipate fall and winter interest. In other words, I’m inadvertently removing the goldfinch food.

Finches of all types enjoy wild seeds such as crabgrass, lamb’s quarter, mustards, pigweed, ragweed, thistles and cheat grass. But I do not intend to change my no-admittance policy on any of this group of thugs.

What I can do is grow more of the more polite flowers goldfinches find desirable: cosmos, lettuce, zinnia, radish and marigolds — and then allow these to go to seed.

Another suggestion is to provide salt, which apparently finches find irresistible. I plan to put rock salt in a small clay saucer on the patio where spillage won’t damage the garden.

Finally, I’ll leave bird feeders up all summer, filled with thistle and millet seeds, two goldfinch favorites.

These changes should do it for the goldfinches. Now if I could only figure out what it is that frogs want.

Spring Flowers for Birds

do birds eat cosmos seeds

Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea, Zones 3-9): The native golden-yellow flowers of golden groundsel are repellant to troublesome garden critters like deer and rabbits, but magnetic for pollinators and birds. Their golden-yellow clusters of daisies attract lots of pollinators (some of which birds eat) and brighten partially sunny to shaded beds and look great in woodland gardens. Flowering may start in mid-spring and continue to late spring. Leave the fluffy white seed heads for the birds to enjoy! Plants may spread, so give them space to move.

do birds eat cosmos seeds

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus): An old-fashioned annual that blooms from May to July, cornflowers are also referred to as “bachelor buttons.” Although bright blue is the most common color of cornflowers, some varieties may also have blue-purple, dark purple, white, or pink flowers. These flowering plants are good for gardeners with poor soil because birds prefer slender environments. Cornflowers respond to pruning by producing more blooms, just like other annuals. Make sure to allow the flowers to go to seed as soon as possible, as seen from the viewpoint of a bird. The seed that the birds drop or leave behind will sprout again the next year.

In my area of the metro area, goldfinches do in fact spend the summers there (Centennial) In the spring, I frequently see them eating dandelion seeds in the field beside my house. In my garden, goldfinches graze on wild annual sunflowers during the late summer. At other times, they’re only infrequent visitors.

Adding salt is another idea; finches seem to find it irresistible. I want to use a small clay saucer with rock salt on the patio so that any spills won’t harm the plants.

For instance, my spouse Randy has a thing about these dazzling yellow goldfinch birds. Whether goldfinches are present in the area where I live is the first thing I think about. (Try as I might, I wouldn’t have much luck attracting parakeets. ).

There are two approaches to designing a garden that is wildlife-friendly. The scattershot method entails supplying a water source and a broad range of plantings, including a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers, to produce areas of shade and sunlight that alternate. These circumstances come close to meeting the habitat needs of many different wildlife species. If you’re hunting for a specific species, it can be helpful to learn what kind of habitat it prefers and make every effort to replicate it.

An online search reveals something I had not anticipated. During the nesting season, the majority of songbirds transition from eating seeds to insects, then resume eating seeds in the fall and winter. Nonetheless, goldfinches are true vegans; this may be an adaptation to fend off the cowbird, a bird that deposits its eggs in other birds’ nests… When cowbird chicks hatch in a goldfinch nest, they are forced to eat only the seeds that goldfinches feed their young, which causes them to starve within a few days.


Can birds eat zinnia seeds?

Zinnias. One of the best annuals to grow in a cutting garden, zinnia is also highly favored for bird and butterfly gardens. Hummingbirds and butterflies are highly attracted to this plant’s colorful blooms. Goldfinches love to eat the flower’s seeds even before the petals are spent.

Will birds eat marigold seeds?

The one thing that they all have in common is large, cone-shaped centers filled with seeds. Goldfinches, in particular, love them. Marigold seeds are numerous and feed birds.

Will birds eat my flower seeds?

Birds and other critters may consume a few seeds, but most seeds are quite small and not very noticeable to birds or other seed eaters.

What are the best seeds for wild birds?

Sunflower seeds are the seeds favored by most seed-eating birds, some 40 species including cardinals, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, house and purple finches, American goldfinches, brown-headed nuthatches, and red-bellied woodpeckers, to name a few.