Sunflowers are not only attractive to us humans, but also to our feathered friends. Birds love them, especially when the seeds are ripe! If you need to know how to protect sunflowers from birds, we have a few tips for you.
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Protecting Sunflowers From Being Eaten By Birds
Sunflowers are most at risk from birds at two stages:
- When they are still tiny seedlings; and
- When the seeds are ripening.
Don’t worry though, there are ways to protect them, and you can use different methods at each stage to ensure your sunflower’s safety.
1. Using A Scarecrow
Scarecrows have been used for centuries as a way to keep birds away from crops. They do work, but you may find that some birds become wise to them, and will nip in and steal your seeds anyway!
Other types of more modern bird scarer work very well; for example hanging CDs on fishing line and leaving them around the place. The flashing of the discs as they spin around will startle most birds.
There are also various ultrasound devices that are available on the market for this purpose.
Or you could try a pretend bird of prey – you can get those that sit still and mimic a buzzard or an owl, or a fabric version that moves in the wind and looks like a hawk. These should keep your crops protected from all but the bravest birds.
2. Bird Scarers
Bird scarers are loud, intermittent bangs that can be set to go off at various intervals and sound like gunshot. These are a very effective way of scaring off birds, but they won’t make you very popular with your neighbours, or any pets you may have!
They are also fairly large and tend to be used more on farmland, and around airports, so you might struggle to get one in your garden – and you will find, unless you live in the middle of nowhere, that this is not the best way to keep birds away from your sunflowers.
3. Bird Feeder
You can, if you like seeing the birds around your garden, place bird feeders around the place to ensure the birds can eat something other than your prize crop. Because bird feeders are generally an easy way to eat, you may find that the birds leave your flowers alone.
You may laugh at this, but have you thought of dressing your plants up like a Christmas tree? Hanging a few strings of tinsel around the place will put the birds off – and it will brighten up your garden no end!
If I were you I’d avoid the Christmas lights though.
This is probably the most effective way of keeping your sunflowers safe from attacking flying creatures. You can cover the whole crop with fine mesh netting, which will allow sunshine and rain in, but will keep the birds off.
If you plant your sunflowers straight into the ground, it is worth netting them from the start, so that the birds don’t swoop in and nibble all your delicate seedlings.
If you are growing your sunflowers for seeds then you can also just net the heads, using cheesecloth or something else that is not heavy weight and which will let the light in. This method will also help you catch any seeds that drop off.
This video shows you the best type of netting to use, and how to create a bird proof sunflower garden:
Can You Grow Sunflowers Indoors?
You may be tempted to keep your sunflowers well and truly protected by growing them indoors – and this will work for the smaller varieties. Larger species can grow to over 10 feet, so unless you live in a mansion this may not be the best bet!
You can keep your sunflowers protected from birds by growing them in a greenhouse or a polytunnel – but remember the size of them, and be prepared for having a greenhouse filled with Triffids who have taken over completely!
Keeping your beautiful sunflowers healthy is relatively easy – but it is much easier if the birds (and dogs/cats) don’t discover your crop! Bear in mind that this will be difficult unless you keep your sunflowers under lock and key; have a browse through our tips for the best protections.