Sunflower Hearts, #1 on the Menu

Couers deTournesol, Sonnenblumenherzen, Cuori di girasole, no matter how you say it, Sunflower Hearts are the favourite seed of birds flocking to the feeders.  Cardinals, finches, woodpeckers, bluejays, grosbeaks, doves, nuthatches, chickadees, … and the list goes on, all enjoy this seed. 

During breeding season you may even see some birds that don’t usually visit feeders dining on sunflower hearts.  This is the first year that I’ve seen robins making a daily trek to our deck to clean up any seeds knocked out of the feeders by other birds, mainly the doves.  I sometimes think they’ve made a deal with each other.  Occasionally they will venture up to the feeder, but mostly stay on the ground.  The sleek catbird is another one making its way to the feeder at this time of year.  Adult birds will take sunflower hearts to the birdbath to soak and soften the seeds to feed to their young.

Sunflower Hearts can be used in a variety of feeders – tube, hopper, fly-through, platform and ground feeders, almost any feeder you have will accommodate this seed.  Crushed sunflower hearts are also available for nyjer feeders.  The most attractive feature of sunflower hearts is the ‘no mess’ factor.  No shells to clean up with this seed, leaving the ground under the feeders maintenance free.  If any small pieces do fall, they will be cleaned up by ground feeding birds.

Sunflower hearts are beneficial to birds all year round as they contain a high oil and calorie content. This gives birds energy and helps them stay healthy throughout all four seasons.  Some people question whether they should feed birds in the summer months.  This is a personal preference, but by offering seed at this time of year you’re giving extra food to mother birds who are busy raising their young. You also get the chance to see birds in their bright spring and summer plumage.  Birds won’t consume as much seed in the summer as natural food sources are more plentiful.  Studies have shown that 25 percent or less of their diet consists of seed.

If you haven’t experienced the joy of no mess feeding, I highly recommend it!

Happy Summer Birding!

Jane Paradis

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