How To Make A Sunflower Bird Feeder
Sunflowers are one of the jolliest flowers of summertime. Their big, yellow heads brighten up our gardens and our homes. But did you know birds love sunflower seeds? Discover how to make a sunflower bird feeder here.
It’s the start of May. The days are getting longer and warmer. Springtime is well and truly here.
Now’s the time to plant sunflower seeds. This is a great activity to do with your kids.
They’ll absolutely love planting out their seeds, watering the plants and watching in amazement as their tiny seeds grow to be taller than them.
Growing sunflowers is brilliant way to encourage your kids to enjoy nature, gardening and caring for plants and wildlife.
And it’s really simple to do. Here’s a handy guide from Gardners’ World Magazine if you’re unsure how to grow sunflowers.
You’ll start to notice more and more wildlife visiting your garden – or whatever outside space you have – to enjoy feeding from your sunflowers.
Sunflowers are an excellent plant to encourage more pollinators, like bees and butterflies, into our gardens.
You could even set up an insect-spotting activity to do with your kids at each stage of the sunflower’s life-cycle!
As well as the bigger insects, such as bees, wasps and butterflies, sunflowers attract much smaller insects too. Beetles, caterpillars, spiders and aphids are among some of the insects that will feast on your sunflowers.
In turn this could encourage birds, bats, mice, squirrels and hedgehogs too.
These larger animals will eat the insects, and they might also have a nibble at your sunflowers as well – so plant more than you need just in case!
How To Make Sunflower Bird Feeders
Once your sunflowers have started to droop or wilt it’s the perfect time to turn your sunflowers into bird feeders.
And this can be done in two ways.
- You can either dry the sunflower heads to ripen the seeds. To do this you simply need to cut the flower heads when they start to droop, leaving a couple of inches of the stem. Store them in a paper bag, somewhere warm and dry for a couple of weeks. When they’re dry you can harvest the ripened seeds for the birds, or simply hang your dried flower heads outside.
- Or you can make bird feeders from them straight away without drying the flower heads. Whilst the seeds might not be as ripe using this method, there will still be lots of juicy insects as well as the sunflower seeds that birds will love to eat!
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What You’ll Need
You won’t need very much at all to make sunflower bird feeders. But you will need:
- sunflowers – make sure the ones you’ve grown are a seed-producing variety!
- a ball of string or garden twine
- a sharp pencil
- pair of scissors (these can be normal household ones or gardening scissors)
- somewhere to hang your sunflower bird feeder (we have a couple of these in our garden)
This is how we made our sunflower bird feeders last July. It was super-easy to do. But do supervise your kids when they’re using scissors, or do the cutting yourself if your kids are little.
- When you notice the sunflowers starting to droop or wilt cut off the flower heads with a sharp pair of scissors
- Remember to leave a couple of inches of them stem if you’re planning to dry the flowerhead. But if you want to make bird feeders straight away cut all the stem off now
Once you have a collection of sunflower heads you’re ready to start making the bird feeders
- Poke a hole through the middle of the sunflower head using the sharp pencil – watch your fingers!
- Push the pencil all the way through to be sure the hole is big enough
- Cut as many lengths or string as you have flower heads; one length of string per flower (we cut a variety of lengths so the bird feeders would hang at different heights)
- Thread a piece of string through the hole you made in one of your sunflowers
- Tie the two ends of the string together, so you have a secure loop through the sunflower head
- Repeat this process for each of your sunflower heads
- Find somewhere to hang your sunflower heads (if you choose a spot you can see from indoors you’ll be able to watch the birds without disturbing them)
- Ta-dah! You’ve made sunflower bird feeders!
Check your sunflower bird feeders every day, especially if it’s wet or rainy. If they start to look mouldy take them down and put them in the compost bin. You don’t want to feed rotten seeds to the garden birds.
Which Birds Will Feed On My Sunflowers?
Well this depends a little on where you live, and which birds already visit your garden or outside space.
But it’s likely that you’ll see a variety of birds feeding either on the actual sunflower seeds, or the insects inside the flowerhead.
You might see these birds feeding on the insects:
- blue tit
- coal tit
- great tit
- black bird
And these feeding on the seeds:
- green finch
Benefits For My Child
This is a great activity for children of all ages, including toddlers so get them involved too!
The benefits of outdoor play are well known and medically recognised, so planning activities to do outside everyday is essential for child development.
Making sunflower bird feeders will also help your child develop some of their key skills including:
- Exploring the World – your child will be keen to learn the names of all the birds and insects that visit your garden
- Making Connections – talk to your child about the life cycle of a sunflower, from seed to flower and back to seed; you could even discuss food chains, who eats what?
- Fine Motor Skills – making the hole in the flowerhead, threading the string and tying a knot
- Sense of Achievement – nurturing a plant from seed is a great achievement
- Well-Being – feeding wild birds and encouraging them into your garden will increase your child’s sense of well-being
- Sensory – encourage them to feel the soft petals and the sticky flowerhead
- Hand-Eye Coordination – threading and knot tying
As well as all these benefits for your child, growing nectar-rich flowers, like sunflowers, and feeding the wild birds is a real help for our native wildlife.
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