By Michael Russell
In this second article about birds, bird watching and how to get them to flock to your humble abode, we’re going to focus on how to get a flock of birds by planting certain flowers in your garden.
It isn’t so much the flowers themselves that the birds are after but the seeds that these flowers produce. After all, this is what these birds eat and a hungry bird will never turn its back on a tasty seed. Well, there are certain flowers that produce seeds that birds are most after. We’ll take a look at some of these.
Probably the most popular flower for attracting birds and the most successful is the King sunflower. Birds are absolutely crazy about sunflower seeds. That’s why passionate bird feeders go out and buy bags of this stuff that are so heavy they can just about carry them.
Sunflowers themselves have become a very big business because of this. A bird flying over North or South Dakota would literally see thousands of acres of sunflowers, a very large portion of which is grown especially for bird seed. People from all over the United States buy these seeds, which makes this one of the largest industries in the Dakotas.
When planting your sunflowers at home try to plant them in an area that will get full direct sunlight. If possible try to make this also close to a window. You’ll get a steady view of hungry birds coming down to feast.
If you don’t want to use all your seeds in the summer and want to save some for winter to feed what birds may still be around, what you do is put a paper grocery sack over each seed head and tie it around the stem. Leave some of the flower heads uncovered so that the hungry birds will not try to peck through the paper. After the seed heads have dried cut them from the stems and place them in metal containers. This keeps the mice from getting to them. This will keep your seeds safe for winter feeding.
Other garden flowers that birds love are cosmos, snapdragon, zinnia, cockscomb, aster, and larkspur. After these flowers have bloomed don’t cut off their heads. Let them dry right where they are. When winter comes your flowers will bloom again and with them will come a flock of finches and cardinals.
Now, if you’re trying to attract hummingbirds the best flowers to plant are any nectar producing flowers, especially if they’re red, pink or orange. Some of the hummingbird’s favorites are honeysuckle, columbine, coral-bells, impatiens, foxglove, and red penstemon. In the summer, hummingbirds go crazy over scarlet bergamot, cardinal flower, hosta, gladiolus, salvia, and trumpet vine.
Hummingbirds like a nice drink with their seeds so make sure you have a bird feeder near by where they can quench their thirst. A good feeder is one that attaches to your window with suction cups. And don’t worry about standing at the window when they come. They’ll plop down for a drink even with you staring right at them.
So if you’re into bird watching and gardening this is a good way to kill two birds with one stone. No pun intended.
Your Independent guide to Birds
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