Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunflowers & Squirrels

Last summer I planted some sunflower seeds in my garden. I didn't plant the giant sunflowers because I didn't think that anything growing 14 feet tall and with a heavy seed head could withstand the strong winds we sometimes get in our backyard and I didn't want the sadness of seeing those flowers on the ground after a summer thunderstorm. So these sunflowers I planted only grew to about 10 feet tall with much smaller seed heads, but they sure were purdy!
I planted them right by the clothesline so I got to enjoy them every time I went out to hang up laundry for drying. It was also really neat to see who visited those sunflowers -- goldfinches seemed to like them the best!

And once fall arrived with the first killing frost, other birds flew in to take advantage of the sunflower seed bounty, including this handsome male cardinal who really had to work for his treat!

Before the frost arrived, I harvested some of the fullest seeds heads and dried them in the garage so I could put them out for the birds in the wintertime. I added a few to the feeder pole on my deck next to the finch's tube feeders, but never noticed that the finches were too interested in them. However, now that we're getting early spring weather, look who's back from hibernation under the storage shed and found my sunflower seed heads.......

One afternoon last week in a pouring rain, I looked out the patio door and saw this hungry little red squirrel on a very precarious and slender perch helping himself to sunflower seeds.

It was such a rotten day that I didn't have the heart to chase him away and grabbed my camera instead.

I was amazed at his ability to perch on the smallest of branches with just his hind feet and eat his fill of these seeds while seeming to hang out in mid-air.

Here's the branch he was perched on! I still can't believe it was able to hold him -- especially after eating almost all the seeds on this sunflower head!

I have a few of last summer's sunflower heads remaining in the garage to put out for the birds. Hopefully the finches and cardinals will still have an opportunity to enjoy them, but I think their chances are much slimmer now since the red squirrels discovered this treat too!


Gaelyn said...

The rock squirrel that hangs out at my feeder is not near as dexterous. Those sunflowers have made their rounds, beautiful to behold in full flower and food for later.

Taos Sunflower said...

Needless to say, a yard full of sunflowers is right up my alley. We love leaving ours all winter and watching the birds pick them's like a great program right outside our kitchen window. I am amazed at the great photos you got of the squirrel...good catch!!! XOXO

RuthieJ said...

Hi Gaelyn,
The squirrels never cease to amaze me with their ambition to acquire tasty treats -- no matter how difficult the situation!
This summer, I think I'll plant sunflowers with bigger flowers.....

Hi Martie,
I thought you might like that! ;-)
I love sunflowers, not only are they beautiful and cheerful, but they provide food for so many of the visitors in my backyard.

Mollie said...

I love sunflowers! And birds like them in flower and dried. If you grow the 14 footers, maybe stake them so the wind doesn't blow them over. You've inspired me to plant some along my fence line. I did that several years ago and were a big hit with the neighborhood kids AND the neighborhood birds!

Anonymous said...

I love the little red squirrels, they are so comical. They scamper so fast and are gone in a flash. My outdoor kitties never see them.


RuthieJ said...

Thanks for the advice Mollie. I'm thinking if I put up some tall fenceposts and then run garden fencing on either side of the rows (partway up the sunflower stalks) that would probably work because those stems are pretty thick. I've bought the sunflower heads at the Farmer's Market before, but $3 per head seems exorbitant to me, esp. when I could grow my own with a 99 cent investment of seeds!

I sure like them too Mom. Penny enjoys watching these little squirrels when they show up on the deck too.

Kelly said...

He's so cute!!