Facebook Pinterest Twitter Last updated on October 10th, 2022If you’ve been wondering what to do with your sunflower heads, why don’t you try feeding them to animals?There are indeed several animals that love munching on sunflower seeds.
So the next time you think of disposing of the sunflower heads, you should try giving these to the birds and animals that visit your garden.Animals that eat sunflower seeds:ChickadeesSquirrelsNuthatchesBlack BearsMiceGrosbeaksChipmunksAntsFor example, if you want to attract birds to your garden to increase pollination, you could include sunflower seeds in your bird feeders.This is because sunflower seeds have a high-fat content which is attractive for most birds.Additionally, birds need food with high energy content, which makes sunflower seeds an excellent addition to their regular diet of grains.In This Article List of animals that eat sunflower seeds:1.
AntsFAQ RoundupList of animals that eat sunflower seeds:1.
ChickadeesChickadees are one of the few birds that love sunflower seeds.
Being a small bird, a chickadee can easily carry a sunflower seed in its beak.Also, sunflower seeds are rich in Iron, Copper, Selenium, Manganese, and Zinc.
These are minerals that aren’t often found in other seeds.Despite being a small bird, a chickadee has to supplement its diet with ample nutrients and minerals.The chickadee bird can consume fifty sunflower seeds per day, especially during the winter season.If you’ve observed a chickadee closely, you’ll find that it continuously flutters its wings, which causes several calories to be wasted.
The fluttering is usually a sign of nesting.This continuous movement of the wings requires a significant amount of energy.Moreover, the chickadee requires additional energy to fly and forage for food and water.Therefore, the chickadee needs to replenish this loss of energy by consuming food dense in calories and rich in minerals.Sunflower seeds are the best option, and hence, most chickadees prefer to consume a large number of sunflower seeds.Sometimes chickadees will be found consuming more sunflower seeds, especially if the birds are stockpiling for winter.2.
Amongst the several types of nuts that squirrels collect, sunflower seeds are their second favorite.Sunflower seeds are readily available in the wild and contain a high amount of iron and magnesium.This ensures that squirrels get a good amount of minerals into their body by consuming sunflower seeds.However, if you have a pet squirrel, try to mix sunflower seeds with corn because one hundred grams of sunflower seeds have seventy-eight milligrams of calcium while corn is low in calcium so this offers a good balance in their diet.Since sunflower seeds contain calcium, this helps in building the bones of these animals.Hence, it’s best to make sunflower seeds a part of their diet to ensure that they get a good amount of essential nutrients.Additionally, sunflower seeds contain a high amount of fat, allowing squirrels to hibernate during winter.It’s worth noting that ground squirrels hibernate during the winter and not tree squirrels.It has been found that sunflower seeds make up nearly five percent of a wild squirrel’s diet.3.
But you’ll sometimes see them feeding on nuts.The primary reason for this is nuts are rich in fat, and nuthatches require a calorie-dense diet.Sunflower seeds are also high in fat, and nuthatches can easily detect the resinous smell of the sunflower seeds since they can easily locate it amongst the other seeds.If you’re planning to attract nuthatches to your garden, you must place black oil sunflower seeds in the bird feeder.Nuthatches are often considered ‘bully birds’ as these birds are slightly bigger than most of the birds you would generally find near your bird feeder.But black sunflower seeds are a favorite of nuthatches as these have high-fat content and are relatively oily.Once you’ve placed these in the bird feeder, these seeds are bound to attract any nuthatches passing through the area.You can then watch these birds expertly peck out the sunflower seeds from the feeder.Being a bully bird, other birds will naturally leave the feeder once the nuthatches arrive, allowing you a clear view of the birds.4.
Black BearsBeing an omnivore, a bear can consume almost anything from plants to nuts to meat.Although the black bear is a large animal, it’s known to have the capacity to consume large amounts of nuts.However, among the various nuts it consumes, sunflower seeds seem to be one of its favorites.The primary reason for this is that sunflower seeds are tasty, nutritious, and highly sought after by these bears.Black bears are fond of bird seeds and are known for seeking out bird feeders to sniff out and eat black oil sunflower seeds.Black bears need to consume high-fat foods to supplement their dietary requirements.Moreover, black bears need to consume food with high-fat content to keep them warm throughout winter which is why they prefer black sunflower seeds.In most cases, black bears hibernate to conserve energy.
Although hibernation results in a loss of fat, once the bear wakes up, it must replenish the fat that was lost.As a result, black bears are quickly drawn toward sunflower seeds that are abundant during the summer season.Black bears hibernate for seven to eight months without eating, drinking, eliminating waste, or moving from their den.Since the winter season lasts around three months followed by the spring season which lasts for three months as well, a black bear’s hibernation usually ends two months into summer.The oily seeds help the bears to replenish the lost fat quickly.
This is one of the reasons why people are advised not to put up bird feeders in regions that black bears regularly visit.Bears often tend to pull down the feeders causing harm to themselves and the structure.5.
MiceMice belong to the rodent family, and like other rodent family members, they love eating sunflower seeds.Mice are primarily omnivores which means they’ll eat both plants and meat.But unless you’re thinking of the large and dangerous rodents, the usual small mice prefer eating fruits, seeds, and grains.They also enjoy eating nuts, and black oil sunflower seeds are a favorite.One of the reasons why mice prefer sunflower seeds is the outer shell of the seed.The outer husk of sunflower seeds is harder, and mice enjoy nibbling the seeds.
If you want to experiment, then put a tray with several types of nuts along with sunflower seeds.You’ll soon find that the sunflower seeds are the most attractive of all the seeds, and mice will eat these first because of the way it smells.Sunflower seeds have a simple resinous aroma, which mice find to be attractive.
This is one of the reasons why mice tend to consume sunflower seeds first in a collection of seeds.6.
GrosbeaksThe grosbeaks are unique birds of the finch family, and these birds are becoming harder to spot.You can sometimes see the red-breasted grosbeaks near your bird feeder, but the sighting has started becoming rarer.The grosbeak too prefers the black sunflower seeds because of the high-energy fat content and mostly since it’s easier to crack than a regular sunflower seed.The grosbeak follows a mixed diet in which most of the year it consumes buds, seeds, and fruit.But during the summer months, it often forages for insects to supplement their protein requirements.However, its favorite seed is the sunflower seed.
If you’re a bird watcher and plan to attract the grosbeaks in your area, you should put some sunflower seeds in the feeder.You can combine it with other seeds or only place sunflower seeds.
It has been found that sunflower seeds are the best way to attract grosbeaks.7.
ChipmunksChipmunks are omnivores, which means they can consume nuts and have a diet similar to squirrels.But, unlike squirrels, chipmunks don’t hibernate during winter.
Hence, they need to collect nuts and store these in burrows that they dig underground.If you suddenly see sunflower plants sprouting in a specific section of your garden, you can rest assured knowing that chipmunks have burrowed and stored sunflower seeds.The primary reason why chipmunks are attracted to black oil sunflower seeds is that the shells are thinner and easier to crack.Since chipmunks will not be able to gather any food during winter, these little creatures must gather suitable seeds and nuts throughout spring and summer that will help them tide over the harshest of winter.One hundred grams of sunflower seeds contain nearly fifty-one grams of fat.
This is a necessary nutrient to help chipmunks through the winter season.Fat is essential as this will keep them warm and prevent them from losing any body fat.The calorie loss is already increased in winter as the chipmunks need to keep themselves warm.Hence, by consuming sunflowers seeds, they can keep the fat content of their body intact while keeping themselves warm.8.
AntsAnts can eat sunflower seeds and it is possible that you will find holes in the seeds after they have eaten them.These insects usually scavenge the bits and pieces around the bird feeders, not the whole sunflower seed.In contrast, because the shells of black oil sunflower seeds are thinner and easier to pierce, ants are also attracted to them.We wrote an entire article on ants eating sunflowers which you can read more about over there.FAQ Roundup What animal eats sunflower seeds at night?Rabbits, deer, rats, chipmunks, voles, raccoons, and possums are the most common animals that eat sunflower seeds at night.
Even though squirrels eat sunflower seeds, they are more active during the day than at night when searching for food.What farm animals eat sunflower seeds?The farm animals that eat sunflower seeds are cattle, pigs, goats, chickens, and ducks.
It’s worth noting that whole sunflower seeds can be fed to farm animals as a fat supplement to their diet.Can wildlife eat sunflower seeds?Wildlife animals such as monkeys, woodpeckers, hedgehogs, badgers, and foxes can eat sunflower seeds but will only do so when other sources of food are not readily available.Do chickadees eat sunflower seeds?Chickadees do eat sunflower seeds, however, it has been observed that they prefer black oil sunflower seeds since this is thinned shelled and easier to crack when compared to regular sunflower seeds.What seeds do squirrels eat?Squirrels are known for eating sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, squash seeds, and watermelon seeds.What birds eat sunflower seeds?The birds that eat sunflower seeds are as follows:1.
Watching sunflowers grow in the garden can add so much happiness to your garden.
Until you watch a squirrel run up the stalk of a sunflower and rip the entire head off and run away with it.
I knew that squirrels were a culprit eating some of my sunflowers, but were they the only ones?
I set out to learn what other animals eat sunflowers and how to help protect these majestic flowers from being eaten before they fully matured.
The most common animals that eat sunflowers include birds, squirrels, mice, deer, voles, and chipmunks.
A lot of insects also enjoy eating the sunflower plant, like spittlebugs, beetles, and weevils.
Let’s talk through each one and what you can do to get rid of or prevent these pests from coming around in the first place.
Sparrows, finches, and cardinals are a few birds that absolutely love to eat the seeds of sunflowers.
These birds often visit gardens and bird feeders to get their fix of sunflower seeds.
In addition, many types of hawks and other prey birds feed on the birds that do eat sunflowers, so you might see them hanging around your garden or feeder.
Most birds won’t bother your sunflower seeds until they are dried and ready to be picked.
What Birds Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Not every type of bird is going to eat sunflower seeds, but there are quite a few that will.
If you’re growing black oil sunflowers, then you might expect more birds to hang around your garden as many types prefer this variety.
Chickadees – chickadees do eat sunflower seeds as well, whether they are in bird feeders or just on the plant.
NuthatchesGrosbeaksCardinalsAmerican Goldfinches – these have been raiding my sunflowers this year, but they’re so pretty I almost don’t mindMourning DovesHouse FinchStarlingsHouse SparrowsGracklesJuncosBlue JaysWoodpeckers – while not as common, woodpeckers will each sunflower seeds on occasion
Sunflower seeds will attract birds to your garden, so make sure to keep an eye on them.
If you’re growing sunflowers to save seeds or eat the seeds yourself, you’re not going to love seeing birds ravaging your plants.
There are a few ways you can keep birds off your plants.
The other option is to set up a fake owl or scarecrow in the garden.
Many birds will try to avoid anywhere a hawk is in plain sight as they don’t want to be attacked.
Fake owls are great for keeping many animals out of the garden, including squirrels, deer, birds, and more.
Birds are pretty smart though, so you will want to move it regularly so they don’t get used to it.
One of the most effective ways to keep birds out of the garden is to use garden or bird netting.
This might not be the most ideal method since sunflowers are so nice to look at, you probably don’t want to cover them at all.
You can also choose a part of your sunflower patch to protect and let nature take it’s course on the others.
Squirrels are also big fans of sunflower seeds.
This is probably quite obvious if you’ve ever watched a squirrel desperately trying to climb a bird feeder.
Since sunflower seeds are common in bird feed, this means that you’ll have birds AND squirrels hanging around.
We have tons of trees in our yard, and I use to love watching the tree squirrels run around and go into their homes in the tree branches.
But then the squirrels started eating my tomatoes, and I no longer loved seeing them around.
These rodents often bury nuts and seeds in the ground to save for later, and they will often dig up buried sunflower seeds to eat.
How to Keep Squirrels Away From Sunflowers
Protecting your sunflowers from squirrels can be a bit of a challenge since they’re very nimble, but there are a few good ways to do it.
Similar to the method above, this can help keep squirrels from getting to the seeds of your sunflowers.
You can also use some kind of aluminum screening bent over the flower of the plants to save them from birds eating sunflower blooms.
I got one of these to protect my garden this year.
It’s been working out pretty well, although I’ve found it’s not as ideal for birds since they come from above.
You might be able to get the motion sensor setup in just the right way for birds, but I find it works better with animals on the ground.
Chipmunks are another animal that loves sunflower seeds, so don’t be surprised to see them running around your garden.
Unlike squirrels, chipmunks don’t hibernate during the winter so they gather more than they need during the summer and fall and put them in burrows for storage.
Unfortunately, keeping chipmunks off of your sunflowers is as challenging as keeping squirrels off of them.
Chipmunks love sunflower seeds, and they provide a lot of healthy fats for them.
Bird netting can do as well of a job for chipmunks as it does for squirrels.
It lays on top of your plants and makes it much more difficult for rodents and other pests to reach the seeds or parts of the plant they’re trying to eat.
Garden mice and voles are also culprits of eating sunflower seeds out of the garden.
While these pests can climb the plants, they also will dig the newly planted garden seeds out of the ground as well.
If you’re not seeing sunflower seedlings sprout up out of the ground a few weeks after planting, you might have been robbed of the seeds.
These rodents will eat corn and sunflower seeds, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.
How to Keep Mice From Eating Your Sunflowers
Mice can be kept away with small barriers like a solid fence or
Companion planting is another great way to keep unwanted pests away.
This is when you grow plants nearby that help the plant they’re near and vice versa.
Since mice don’t love the smell of garlic or onions, you can plant your sunflowers near them.
The scarecrow method can work with mice, voles, and rats as well, as they will want to avoid places that have predators lurking.
While raccoons won’t be the first to show up to eat your sunflowers, this is a definitely possibility.
If they get hungry enough, they will eat seeds, nuts and other plants in your garden.
There are a few methods for keeping raccoons out of the garden.
Wind chimes, laser red eyes (that simulate a predator at night), and motion-activated sprinklers work great.
Raccoons get scared by loud noises and sudden movements, making this option a great one.
Motion-activated sprinklers are one of my favorite ways to keep all kinds of animals out of my garden.
Yes, deer do eat sunflowers.
Sunflowers are a good source of food for deer because they are high in nutrients like protein and fat.
Deer will also eat the leaves of the sunflower plant.
Deer will eat many types of flowers, and sunflowers is a big one for them.
How to Keep Deer from Eating Sunflowers
There are a few things you can do to keep deer from eating your sunflowers.
The sprinkler I mentioned above works great for keeping these pests out of the garden as well.
Planting sunflowers in a garden that is enclosed by a fence at least 8 feet tall is really the only foolproof way to keep them from eating your sunflowers seeds.
Another method for keeping deer out of the garden is Irish Spring soap.
It sounds weird, but they will usually stay pretty far away from that scent.
Other than that, you can spray a chili pepper spray on the sunflowers to help protect them.
Once they get a small taste of the pepper, they’re likely going to move on to another food source.
Rabbits eat garden plants like tomatoes and carrots, but they have also been known to eat sunflowers, the flowers, stalks and seeds.
Of course, they won’t be able to reach the seeds, but they would eat the seeds a bird dropped seeds or the plant falls over.
Rabbits love to eat garden plants when they can’t find enough clover around their nests.
One great way to protect your sunflowers are to plant their favorites elsewhere.
Fencing is the most effective for keeping rabbits out in my opinion.
Sunflowers are great for bringing bees and other beneficial insects around your garden, but they also attract some not-so-great insects as well.
Some other sunflower bugs include:
There are a variety of insects that love eating sunflowers, but how do you keep the ones that harm the plants away?
I’ve used this one on other plants in the past and it works great, but I never got around to spraying my sunflowers with it before the spittlebugs arrived.
You can use this stuff on all kinds of insects in your garden, but this year I’ll be using this to keep spittlebugs off of my sunflowers for sure.
Sunflowers Are Loved By Many Animals
Sunflowers produce seeds that are a valuable food source for many different types of wild animals, offering up the much-needed fats animals need to survive.
Not only will you help to feed the animals in your area (whether or not that is your goal!), but you also get to enjoy the beauty of these flowers.
You can plant sunflowers near other vegetables and plants that deter animals and pests, but at the end of the day you might need to use more reinforcements.
Although most gardeners plan to share the seeds with wildlife at the end of the season, they want to enjoy their sunflowers first.
Unfortunately, enjoying them sometimes means chasing away the animals that want to eat the flowers before you’re ready to share them.
But what animals eat sunflowers, and what can you do to stop them?
Many animals eat sunflowers, but you can keep most of them away by installing fences, placing motion-activated sprinklers in your garden, and utilizing plants and smells that each animal dislikes.
Some of the most common sunflower thieves include:
Continue reading as we explore the many animals that could attack your garden and how you can identify what’s eating your sunflowers.
Crows Love Eating Sunflowers
But, as it turns out, cows can, and will, enjoy snacking on sunflowers from time to time.
According to a study by the State College of Washington, sunflower silage was a suitable alternative to corn in areas where corn doesn’t grow as well as sunflowers.
However, sunflower silage appeared to be less palatable to cows when compared to corn.
Despite this, cows can often be found munching on sunflowers and will eat the entire plant.
In fact, they enjoy it so much that some clever farmers will use cows to mow down a sunflower field to reduce organic waste in the soil.
If you have cattle near your yard and have been wondering what’s eating your sunflowers, there’s a good chance the bovines might be to blame.
Luckily, it’s usually pretty easy to determine if cows are the culprit.
How To Protect Your Sunflowers From Cows
The good news is that if cows are to blame, it should be easy to stop them from eating your sunflowers.
Simply keep cows out of the areas where your sunflowers are growing.
The most obvious solution is to place fencing around the plants you don’t want the cows to attack.
This way, even if the Houdini’s escape, your sunflowers will be safe.
Fences like this High Metal Pet Fencing can keep animals away from your precious flowers.
It should be noted that cows are big and can quickly push down a fence if they know something tasty is on the other side.
For this reason, it can be a good idea to use a wall that limits the cows’ view of the sunflowers.
Another solution is to keep plants far away from enclosures.
Cows can reach quite a ways past a barricade, and if they’re trying to reach for something, there’s a good chance they’ll weaken the fence over time.
What would you do if you were a hungry cow stuck in a muddy pasture and saw a beautiful patch of delicious yellow flowers?
Not only will the dog help keep cows away from your gardens, but they can alert you if the cattle break free; before they mow down your flowers.
If you’d like more detail, take a look at our piece on how to scare crows away for good!
Deer Routinely Eat Sunflower Plants
Yes, deer love munching on sunflowers because the plants are rich in the vitamins and minerals that deer depend on to survive cold winters.
Unfortunately, unlike cows, deer aren’t often confined to a pasture and are free to wander into backyards and gardens.
Sunflower seeds are rich in zinc, thiamin, vitamin E, and choline.
Additionally, the seeds found in the head of a sunflower plant are rich in fiber and contain various oils and fats deer need to survive cold, barren winters.
Deer most often eat the young buds and flower heads of sunflowers instead of the leaves.
However, just because they don’t prefer the leaves doesn’t mean they won’t eat them if that’s all they can reach.
Although deer can be active any time of the day, you’re most likely to see them feeding in the early morning and evening hours.
They may also sneak into your yard at night to access gardens because humans are less present at night.
It’s difficult to know what kind of animal destroys your sunflowers.
So how can you tell if deer are eating your sunflowers?
If you notice the leaves are ripped instead of nibbled, and the flower buds are gone, there’s a good chance your sunflowers are being eaten by deer.
How To Keep Deer Away From Your Sunflowers
The best way to keep deer away from your flowers is to build a high, sturdy fence.
Fences that shield your garden from view are best because animals won’t be tempted to come into your garden if they don’t know it’s there.
Since deer are easily spooked, you can use a motion sensor sprinkler to keep a herd away from your sunflowers.
If you’re looking for a cruelty-free way to keep deer away from your sunflowers, check out this Motion Activated Sprinkler from Orbit.
Another way to keep weary deer out of your gardens is to use human scents.
Some gardeners place human hair around plants to keep deer away, while others sprinkle coffee grounds around the perimeter of their lawn.
You can also mix plants the deer don’t like in with your sunflowers.
Depending on what will grow in your area, there are many plants you can use to repel deer.
For example, planting prickly flowers or bushes near sunflowers may keep deer away.
Another clever trick is to use a standard bar of soap to keep deer away from certain areas of your lawn and garden.
To learn how to do this yourself, check out how soap is used to repel deer in our detailed article!
In addition to soap, you can use scents that deer hate to keep them out of certain areas of your yard.
For a complete list, check out our list of the 11 Scents That Deer Hate.
Goats Eat Sunflowers Whenever They Can
You’ve probably heard the old saying that goats will eat anything in their path—including the shirt off your back.
Goats eat sunflowers and consume the entire plant, including the leaves, stalk, and flower heads.
Goats are curious animals.
Despite this, most goats are really picky about what they will and will not eat.
Sunflowers have a lot of valuable vitamins and nutrients that goats need to grow and develop.
In addition to providing energy and other immune support, gardeners will often feed sunflowers to their goats to promote healthier coats and improve milk production.
Depending on the goats’ species and the sunflower type, goats may develop digestive issues if they eat sunflowers regularly.
So, if you’ve noticed your sunflowers are being consumed, and your goats have become fussy eaters, they’re likely eating your flowers.
How To Stop Goats From Eating Your sunflowers
Fences are the best way to keep larger animals away from flower and vegetable gardens.
And choosing the right fence is essential to minimize injury to the animals.
It’s common for goats to stick their head through the small square holes, but they may become stuck and injure themselves if they can’t get back out.
Use a spray repellent around your garden to keep goats from eating your plants.
If you want to keep multiple animals and pests away from your garden, check out this Natural Peppermint Animal Spray.
Don’t allow goats to wander around your lawn and garden.
It might seem cruel to keep them caged, but keeping the animals away from your plants and flowers will be much more challenging if you allow them to roam freely.
If you want to let your goats out from time to time, keep a close eye on the animals.
Not only could they run away or get hurt, but some plants they eat could be toxic to them.
Utilize unpleasant smells in areas that you don’t want goats visiting.
Check out our complete list of scents that goats hate and how to use them!
Raccoons Eat Sunflower Plants When Needed
Raccoons are another animal with a reputation for eating almost anything.
But are they eating your sunflowers?
But are they eating your sunflowers?
Raccoons rarely go after sunflowers.
However, if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat the seeds out of the flower heads, which could cause a lot of destruction in your sunflower garden.
Omnivores eat both plants and animals, and raccoons eat a wide variety of both.
In the wild, their diet typically consists of various fruits, nuts, seeds, insects, reptiles, and aquatic animals.
They’re also known to raid bird nests and eat the eggs of several species.
Although raccoons can often be found stealing sunflower seeds from backyard bird feeders, they usually won’t go after a sunflower unless they’re starving.
If you notice something is pulling the flowers down and eating the seeds at night, it might be raccoons.
Other signs of raccoon activity include:
How To Raccoons From Eating Your Sunflowers
How To Raccoons From Eating Your Sunflowers
Your first step should be removing the things attracting raccoons to your yard.
Sunflowers themselves typically won’t attract raccoons on their own.
If you have raccoons in your yard, something else is probably drawing them.
To find out what might bring raccoons to your property, check out our list of things that attract raccoons.
One option is to use motion-activated lights and sound systems to deter unwanted raccoons from your garden.
This Motion Activated Voice Player allows you to record whatever you want to scare the animals away.
You can also use scents that raccoons dislike to keep them away from your plants.
Some smells that raccoons hate include peppermint, garlic, vinegar, and other animal urine.
Blood meal is also commonly used to keep raccoons away because they associate the smell with predators.
Here’s our full detailed list of scents that raccoons hate.
While this isn’t highly recommended because you don’t want to attract more raccoons, it might be necessary for areas where you cannot eliminate the animals entirely.
If you have a fence, use fence spikes to keep raccoons from climbing over barricades.
Because raccoons are super agile, they can climb most fences.
However, placing bird spikes on walls and fences can sometimes deter the animals from climbing over.
These Fence Spikes from EcoGrowth can help keep birds, cats, raccoons, and other rodents from climbing over fences to access your sunflowers.
Some states have laws that make it illegal to relocate raccoons on your own, so make sure to check with wildlife control pro.
Bears Can Eat Sunflowers On Occasion
The last thing you might expect to see out your front window is a big old bear lumbering around in your sunflower garden, but is that possible?
Do bears eat sunflowers?
Though it’s rare, bears could very well be eating your sunflowers.
Bears are omnivores, and in the spring and summer months, they’ll eat a variety of flowers and flowering plants.
Although most gardeners admit they’ve never had a problem with bears eating their sunflowers, it’s not entirely unheard of.
In fact, according to a fact sheet created by Michigan State University, black bears are well known for destroying a variety of crops, including corn and sunflowers.
Bears will often raid backyard feeders to get sunflower seeds.
And since they eat plants, including several types of flowers, it only makes sense that bears would be attracted to sunflowers since they love the seeds.
But how can you tell if a bear is eating your sunflowers?
So, if you have a bear in your flower garden, you’ll know it.
There will be significant damage to your garden, including plants that have been trampled and mowed down.
Since it’s the protein-packed seed they’re after, they would likely eat the head of the flower and leave the stalks behind.
How To Stop Bears From Snacking On Your Sunflowers
But we’ve got some suggestions that might help you save your sunflowers.
Your first option is to install a fence around your yard.
Bears are very capable of climbing and may be able to scale certain walls and fences.
However, they won’t usually go through the effort unless they know for sure there’s something they want on the other side.
Having a barricade could help deter bears from entering your yard in the first place.
You can also remove things that attract bears to your yard.
Since they’re so large, bears need to spend a lot of time foraging for food and will be attracted to your yard if it offers them something to eat.
Berry bushes, beehives, garbage, bird feeders, compost, and other food sources should be removed if you want to keep bears away.
Read through this list of 11 scents that attract bears to ensure you’ve removed all of them from your property.
Make sure to keep your farm animals and pets secure at night.
In addition to plants and grasses, bears also eat meat.
Having chickens or other animals roaming free in the evening might attract the attention of a hungry bear.
Yes, Squirrels Go Nuts For Sunflowers!
Squirrels are one of those animals you either love or love to hate.
We already know they love to rob sunflower seeds from bird feeders, but will squirrels eat the actual sunflower?
Yes, squirrels can and will eat your sunflowers.
Unlike some animals that will eat a seed or two here and there, squirrels often take the entire flower.
Once the bud grows, the animals scurry up the stalk, chew the stem beneath the flower, and run away with the entire flower head.
If this is too much work, they’ll slowly break the flower head apart to get to the seeds instead.
Either way, the flowers that you worked hard to raise are doomed.
Signs that prove squirrels are responsible include seeing the squirrels climbing the stalks, missing sunflower heads, sunflower heads on the ground around your garden, and empty sunflower shells scattered beneath the plants.
Stopping Squirrels From Eating Your Sunflowers
Keeping squirrels at bay is hard work.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep them away from your sunflowers.
Mainly, you’ll want to keep young plants covered.
Your sunflower might be vulnerable to squirrels even before the bud grows on the flower.
That’s because the rodents will sometimes dig up previously planted sunflower seeds.
Covering plants with mesh or wire netting can help minimize damage to your flowers.
These Reusable Dome-Screen Umbrellas are perfect for keeping squirrels and insects away from growing plants.
This only works when squirrels just have one way to get to the sunflower: by climbing up the stalk.
Some of the best prickly plants include:
Many gardeners use this trick to keep squirrels from eating the seeds.
Simply spray a mixture of hot sauce and water on the head of the flower.
Placing a large cone underneath the flower prevents squirrels from accessing the seeds.
However, this only works on large, mature plants that won’t bend easily.
It’s unlikely that a squirrel will choose to scale a sunflower stalk if there’s a food source on the ground.
Because as soon as the easy-to-reach food is gone, they’ll turn their attention back to your flowers.
Having an animal that will instinctively chase the squirrels can keep the rodents off your property for good.
This should only be done if you’re able and willing to give the orphaned animal a safe and loving home.
If you’ve tried to plant sunflowers in a container, only to have squirrels promptly dig the seeds up, try adding stone mulch to the pot.
This will make it hard for the squirrels to find and retrieve the planted seeds.
Plant sunflowers away from trees, fences, and porches.
All the netting and cones in the world won’t protect your flowers if squirrels have a way to jump onto them from above.
Planting sunflowers in an open area will help you protect them in the future.
Take a peak at our piece on the things that attract squirrels to your yard!
A greenhouse could be the perfect solution if you have multiple plants to protect.
Having your flowers in a protected environment will make it easier to control who can and cannot access them.
Lastly, you can consider using more of the scents that squirrels hate around your garden if you want another natural repellent option!
Birds Love To Eat Sunflowers
We already know that birds eat sunflower seeds in backyard feeders, but do birds eat the flowers while they’re growing?
Yes, many types of birds are well known for eating sunflowers.
In fact, many bird enthusiasts will plant sunflowers for their backyard companions because they provide essential protein and fats that the birds need to survive the winter.
Although different species like different types, almost every bird will eat sunflower seeds.
The vast majority of birds prefer black oil sunflower seeds because the shells are thin and the seeds are easy to digest.
Why do birds love sunflower seeds so much?
Unlike humans, wild animals don’t eat for pleasure—they eat to survive.
They need to make the most of their fuel by eating foods that replace and replenish the energy they use while foraging.
Sunflower seeds are great because they don’t take a lot of energy to digest and are often available for birds to find.
Signs that birds are the ones eating your sunflowers include:
Seedlings being dug up or plucked from the soilDamage to the head of flowersSeeds missing from flowersEmpty sunflower seed shells on the ground around the plantBird droppings near or on the plantsMinimal damage to leaves and stalks, with most of the damage focused on the flower head
Some gardeners have reported birds eating the sunflower leaves.
Stopping Birds From Nibbling On Your Sunflowers
Protecting your sunflowers from birds is a bit more complicated because, unlike animals on the ground, birds can access your flowers from above.
So what can you do to keep birds away from your sunflowers?
So what can you do to keep birds away from your sunflowers?
Cover newly planted seeds with hay or mulch.
This layer of protection can keep birds from digging up and eating seeds.
However, this only protects plants until they grow through the barrier.
Use row covers to protect young flowers from birds.
Row covers like these 10×33 Ultra Fine Mesh Barriers prevent birds from digging up newly planted seeds or seedlings.
They’re thick enough to keep birds away while still allowing sunshine and rain to get through.
Build a box around flowers and cover it with wire fencing.
This doesn’t look as nice as a freestanding flower garden, but it will protect sunflowers from soaring predators if you’re growing the flowers to harvest.
Add decoy predators to your garden to scare birds away.
Adding scarecrows and decoy predators may scare birds away from your garden.
Unfortunately, birds are intelligent and might realize it’s a fake when it never moves.
Using decoys with motion, like this Plastic Decoy Owl with a Rotating Head, makes it less likely for birds to become used to the decoy.
Place bird feeders around your lawn, away from flower gardens.
By installing bird feeders on the perimeter of your property, you may lure animals away from your flowers.
Just make sure you’re not attracting more sunflower predators into your yard.
Place items that move with the wind in your garden to startle birds.
You’ve probably noticed that birds are easily spooked.
You can take advantage of this by placing things that move in your garden.
Then, simply inflate the balloons and put them in your flower garden!
If you’re able to provide a loving home, an outdoor cat can scare birds away from, well, everything.
Rabbits Eat Every Part Of Sunflowers
Rabbits Eat Every Part Of Sunflowers
Rabbits Eat Every Part Of Sunflowers
It makes sense for an animal that eats sunflower seeds to eat sunflowers.
But what about animals that rarely eat seeds?
Rabbits are well known for eating many types of leafy plants, but do they eat sunflowers?
Rabbits will eat almost every part of a sunflower, including the petals, seeds, leaves, and stalks.
Although their reach is impaired by limited movement, they’ll eat any part of the sunflower they can reach.
Rabbits don’t wander long distances, and once they settle in an area, they’ll likely spend the rest of their lives there.
Unfortunately, it’s not just sunflowers that gardeners have to worry about.
Rabbits eat a wide variety of weeds, grasses, flowers, bushes, and plants.
In the winter, they’ll also eat the buds, bark, and twigs of some bushes and trees.
Signs of rabbit damage to sunflowers include:
Leaves that have been nibbled from the outside in instead of tornPetals that have been partially nibbledThe flower heads are completely missing the petalsThe buds have been chewed off at a 45-degree angle
You can also look for other signs of rabbit activity in your garden, which include:
Rabbit tracks (the two back feet will be larger than the front feet)Rabbit scat (small round pellets)Signs of chewing on wood and treesSomething eating the twigs and bark of nearby trees and bushes
Since they reproduce so fast and eat such a wide variety of plants, rabbits have earned a bad reputation among gardeners everywhere.
How To Stop Rabbits From Eating Your Sunflowers
Trying to stop a hungry rabbit from feeding on your plants and flowers is difficult because they’re so persistent.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to make your plants less desirable to rabbits.
Install wire fences around your garden.
Rabbits can climb certain barricades but will often choose not to.
Most rabbit species live in underground burrows, but they like areas where these homes are well protected.
Since they stay near their home, eliminating nesting areas near your garden can help.
Keeping fields mowed can also reduce rabbit activity near your home.
Use scents that naturally deter rabbits in your garden.
This can include plants and essential oils.
Rabbits have a good sense of smell and usually avoid scents they don’t like, such as garlic, sulfur, lavender, blood meal, and predator urine.
You can check out our full list of scents that rabbits hate here.
Mixing blood meal and predator urine will almost always keep rabbits from entering an area because they associate those two smells with a predator’s hunting grounds.
However, blood meal could attract these predators to your lawn, so be sure to use it carefully.
For more tips, check out this list of 7 Easy Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Rabbits.
What Other Animals Might Be Eating Your Sunflowers?
What Other Animals Might Be Eating Your Sunflowers?
Regarding sunflower damage, the animals above are the most common culprits.
However, they’re not the only ones who enjoy a sunflower snack from time to time.
Any animal that eats sunflower seeds might attack your sunflowers.
These animals are typically interested in the seeds and won’t usually damage other parts of the sunflower plant.
On the other hand, any animal whose diet consists primarily of leaves and flowers might be eating your sunflowers.
These animals include:
If these animals attack your flowers, you’ll notice leaf and petal damage, but the seeds will often be left untouched.
How Can I Tell What’s Eating My Sunflowers?
A lot of animals cause similar damage to plants.
Unless you catch the animal red-handed, it can be hard to determine what’s eating your sunflowers.
Use the tips below to help you figure out what’s turning your flower garden into an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Obviously, the culprits will be limited to the type of animals in your area.
Note which animals you see in your yard.
Simply watching your yard for a week or so should give you an idea of what type of animals are around.
In addition to wildlife, note domesticated animals as well.
Find out what these animals eat.
Don’t rule any animal out before researching its diet.
For example, rabbits are well known for eating carrots, but in reality, they’re more apt to eat a sunflower plant than to dig up a carrot field.
Learning what each animal eats may shock you and help determine who is consuming your flowers.
Some animals come out at night or are great at avoiding people.
For these animals, tracks and scat might be the only way to know if they are visiting your yard.
If you want to know for sure who’s eating your flowers, install a trail camera.
Motion-sensor cameras like this Day and Night Vision Trail Camera will show you precisely who is devouring your flowers.
There’s something special about planting a tiny seed and watching it turn into a beautiful plant or flower.
So it’s no wonder most people feel protective when it comes to their gardens.
Building fences and greenhouses, utilizing scents that deter animals, and adding motion-activated sprinklers and decoys to your garden are just a few ways that you can protect your plants.
Remember, animals aren’t trying to destroy your hard work.
And sunflowers offer a lot of the nutrients they need to do just that.
If you want to get the most out of your plants and flowers, consider donating them to the animals after you’ve finished admiring their beauty.
Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.