Feeding the Masses of Fauna off Sunflowers

Crimson Rosella "harvesting" the sunflowers for her friends

Crimson Rosella “harvesting” the sunflowers for her friends

Cockatoos sharing some sunflower seeds

Cockatoos sharing some sunflower seeds

Seriously, those sunflowers really bring in the masses. The gift that keeps on giving.

IMG_8133IMG_0513IMG_0670These are some of the uses to which my sunflowers are put in my garden:

Seeds: As soon as they’re planted they’re dug up and eaten by the bandicoot.

Sprouts: Once they show their heads, they’re nipped off by possums and/or bandicoots.

Flowers: Nectar and pollen are joyfully collected by bees, and not just my honeybees either.

Petals: The delicate yellow petals are munched by birds – any birds (or at least any bird in the parrot family).

Seeds again: Before I can harvest them they are eaten by birds – all the birds: cockatoos, crimson rosellas and even the chickens enjoy sunflower seeds. The cockatoos are clever enough to realise they can’t stand on the weak stalks so they walk up and bite the stem near the base, making the whole flower fall with the head in easy snacking position. We watched happily while 2 birds devoured 3 flowers this way (photo above) but when they looked up at number 4 we chased them off. There’s really got to be a limit to a feeding frenzy or there will be nothing left for everyone to share.


Sulphur Crested Cockatoo in the Sunflowers

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo in the Sunflowers

Leafcutter Bee on a Sunflower

Leafcutter Bee on a Sunflower

Without a doubt, sunflowers are the most appreciated plant I’ve ever grown – and, not that it matters, they’re beautiful!

Now I’ve got to try to save some so I can harvest seeds for next year’s sowing. I put bags around 3 of the heads in the hopes the birds will leave them alone. At this point I’m cautiously optimistic.



About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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15 Responses to Feeding the Masses of Fauna off Sunflowers

  1. Lovely photographs! You’ve got some hungry critters in your garden. The cockatoos are beautiful but too clever. Its lucky we do not have any here as it would ruin the local sunflower industry. The sunflowers stand more or less intact until harvest and even then the heads that are left often stay in the fields most of the winter only slowly being eaten by the pigeons etc.
    It must be worth it for you though to see the birds like the cockatoo and the rosella in the garden. I suppose the only answer is to sow even more. I hope you don’t have anything that eats your bags.

    • I first planted the sunflowers 2 years ago because I think they might just be the coolest flower ever – so huge! Then the birds started coming. Now I plant them because I am a huge fan of parrots. Yes they are destructive (grain farmers HATE cockatoos) but lordy are they beautiful to watch.

      So far so good on the bag front. I put some on my avocadoes a while back and those are working – the possums are eating their way through the unbagged avocadoes but those in bags are untouched (so far) which gives me hope this will work for my sunflowers. Of course if the cockatoos snip the flower stalk, the bag won’t save the head.

  2. A very beautiful post and photos.

  3. fiammisday says:

    Cute and interesting post and blog!! I’m following you!! A big kiss from Florence!!

    • I’m glad you like the blog and I hope you enjoy future posts. Isn’t the internet amazing, a woman from Florence with a passion for fashion “meets” a woman from Sydney with a garden obsession.

  4. Seasonsgirl says:

    What nice weather it looks like you are having. Your chickens look great πŸ™‚

    • Well, it depends on how you define “nice” weather. It’s been a really dry summer which is good for the bees. Some of the plants – assuming we water them daily – love this weather but others are shooting and/or drooping. The entire country is breaking all kinds of records for heat waves that, combined with the lack of rain, means we’re having a terrible – and I mean TERRIBLE – bush fire season.

      The chickens are great. We spoil them, provide them water and even some water sprayers when the temperature climbs and they reward us with lots of eggs and friendly little chuckles.

      • Seasonsgirl says:

        Middle of the US had a bad summer too… hot and fires. On the other hand we had so much rain things started to sink πŸ˜‰ The grass looked great as did the sunflower πŸ™‚

  5. those pictures are amazing! i’ve posted some of my girls for you! x

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