Thanks to the Birds

“Thanks to the Birds”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


For many years now we have been feeding the birds that come to our garden.  We are lucky to have a great variety of year-round avian residents, and many “tourist” birds visit, usually in the late fall to early spring.  While we appreciate our cardinals, woodpeckers, titmice, and chickadees, to name a few, it is the indigo buntings, goldfinches, and grosbeaks that really give us a thrill.  I guess it is so easy to be seduced by the “new kid in town” syndrome.  Having all these birds stopping by the many feeders means that we are constantly buying black oil sunflowers, peanuts, etc., but the birds have returned the favor in a way.  Besides having their bright colors, fliting movements and sweet songs in the garden, a few plants have been carried in by them.

This is how coral berry (ardisia crenata) showed up in the garden as well as a few other plants.  But the one that I want to share today is the bright little yellow sunflower.




These come up in the garden especially near the hanging bird feeders.  They can be anywhere from eighteen inches to four feet tall, and the flowers can be three to eight inches across.  Since I do not plant them or know if the ones for bird feeding are all the same variety, I do not know the reason for the differences in size.  It may be related to how much soil covers the seed or if the seed is just laying on top of the ground when it sprouts.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter since the the small ones are just a pretty in their own right as the larger ones are.  These have a bright, clear yellow flower unlike the ones that have a more golden color.  This bright yellow blends well with other flowers, so that I usually leave them in the garden to grow and flower.

This year, for the first time, I took a hint from the birds and planted some of the oil sunflower seeds in the circle garden where there is mostly yellow flowering plants.   I just took some seeds and poked them in the ground about every two feet.  I did this about two weeks ago and already the seedlings are about three inches high.  I feel pretty confidant that there will soon be yellow flowers to the back of the bed to complement the other yellow flowers already there.  If this experiment goes well, who knows, I may be planting more of these sunflower seeds around the garden.  I don’t think the birds will mind missing a few seeds from the feeders, after all, they gave me the idea.



  1. Becky said,

    May 2, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Oh, shoot. I can’t believe I have been pulling these little seedlings out of my garden. The area next to the bird feeder always has several coming up. It never occurred to me to let them grow up and bloom. From now on, I am going to let some remain and flower.

  2. Lauren said,

    May 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    What a good idea especially now that the economy has slowed down. I am always looking for plants that will reseed to stretch my gardening dollars.

  3. Garden Mary said,

    May 2, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Lovely yellow flower. Who would have thought it was bird seed?

  4. Sherry said,

    May 2, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Jan,

    I saw an Indigo Bunting just yesterday and the goldfinches and grosbeaks are regular visitors. I love to watch them as well.

    This post (and your photo) inspires me also to stop pulling the seedlings under my bird feeders!

  5. Racquel said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Isn’t nature grand? 🙂 I have these little seedlings popping up everywhere thanks to the feeder. Maybe I’ll take a clue from you & the birds and let a few stay.

  6. Jan said,

    May 3, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Becky, I can assure you it was not planned when the first sunflowers started showing up. Lack of time to weed turned out to be a good thing.

    Lauren, easy to propogate plants and reseeders do help stretch our gardening dollars. I am rooting coleus to have more to spread around the garden.

    Garden Mary, you’re right; if you don’t tell people its bird food, no one would know.

    Sherry, my hubby waits for the indigo buntings every year since they are his favorite. We just saw a pair of summer tanagers Friday which is a first for us. Last year was the first year I let some sunflower seedlings live in the garden, and this year is the first time I have actually planted some. Not bad for bird seed.

    Racquel, let a few stay. It really is fun when one gets to be a big size.

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