will birds eat sunflower heads

Easy to grow and useful all year-round, sunflowers are crowd-pleasers. Summer’s bright blooms bring joy to gardeners and pollinators, and naturally dried seeds provide local wildlife with a food source in winter. They thrive in most soil types and climates, as long as they’re in a sunny spot. Follow these proven tips for growing sunflowers. Enjoy 30 stunning sunflower pictures that radiate beauty.

Sunflower Bird Feeding Activity

Sunflowers are an easy crop that benefit birds at the end of the season as well as important pollinators during growth. After that purpose is completed, the drying heads can be recycled into a winter feeding station for the birds listed above as well as:

Minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B complex are all abundant in sunflower seeds. Sunflower heads are high in protein, fiber, and polyunsaturated fat, so feeding the birds with them will keep the little warblers active and plump. When making a sunflower bird feeder, the largest sunflower heads should ideally be used. Some varieties that are apropos include:

  • ‘Sunzilla
  • ‘Giant Gray Stripe
  • ‘Russian Mammoth

Large heads are easier to handle and last longer as feeders, but birds aren’t fussy and will happily nibble on any kind of sunflower seed. Ask around if you haven’t grown these big flowers in your garden because of space constraints or other reasons. Maybe spent flower heads that friends, neighbors, or even a local farmers market has that they’d be happy to part with Once the sunflowers are well-formed and their heads start to dry, trim the top half of the stem and allow the flower and stalk to air dry for several weeks in a cool, well-ventilated area. When the back of the head is yellow and the front of the head has a crispy brown color, they are dry. To prevent your bird friends from sampling too early, you might need to cover the maturing sunflower heads with cheesecloth, netting, or a paper bag. Avoid placing them in a bag or other container that could hold moisture and lead to the mildew of the sunflowers. Cut off the sunflower’s remaining stem after it has healed. Then, drill a few holes close to the top of the head and insert florist wire into them. Now you can hang the head for the birds to eat on a tree branch or fence. As an added treat for the birds, you can hang millet sprays from the flower head. Alternatively, you can decorate the sunflower with a small piece of raffia knotted into a natural bow. It is nice to bring the flower closer to the house where the birds can be viewed from a cozy window during the chilly fall and winter months. Of course, you can also leave the sunflower heads on the plants and let the birds feast from there.

Sunflower Care and Growing Tips

will birds eat sunflower heads

  • Common name: sunflower
  • Scientific name: Helianthus annuus
  • Zones: Annual
  • Attracts: Birds, bees, butterflies
  • Light needs: Full sun
  • Size: Standard varieties grow up to 10 feet tall
  • Grown for: Sunflower heads hold 1,000–2,000 seeds that provide year-round sustenance for birds.
  • Foliage: Stalks fade to brown in the winter
  • Grow

When to Plant Sunflower Seeds

will birds eat sunflower heads

The best time to harvest sunflower seeds is from late summer to early fall. Plant from spring through midsummer, spacing them out to allow for a longer harvest period. This will draw birds and allow you to enjoy the blooms for several months.

Did you know—tomatoes make great sunflower companion plants.