Serve Up Seeds for Furry and Feathered Creatures

Author: Meera, November 24, 2012


A squirrel forages for food


Squirrels can contort their bodies into bizarre and exotic positions just to get at the seeds in a bird feeder, as any wildlife watcher can tell you. But they aren’t crazy about all birdseed. Safflower is a good example of a seed loved by birds but not squirrels. The squirrels will forgo a whole feeder of that seed in order to dine on sunflower hearts that is also a favorite of chickadees, finches, and woodpeckers. Pesky squirrels will also paw through a bird feeder to eat other seeds mixed into a commercial wild bird feed but still pass on eating the safflower if it is present.



A giant sunflower blooms in summer;
by autumn the center head is filled with seed


Since both squirrels and many species of wild birds love sunflower seeds, we grow several types throughout the summer. When fall approaches, we place the dried heads of the sunflowers in an area away from a bird feeder to attract the squirrels and hopefully limit their foraging of food intended for the feathered wildlife. Sometimes it works. However, mourning doves are ground feeders and so are quail. We’ve found the squirrels and the birds foraging together for sunflower seeds.



A squirrel and mourning dove share a meal


The finches enjoy the black Nyger (or thistle) seeds so we keep one feeder of that seed just for them. We love the splashes of  yellow (the coloring of their breasts) as they flit around and perch on the feeder to devour their favorite meal. But other birds with small bills like the California quail, pine siskins, towhees, dark-eyed juncos, song sparrows, and purple finches also are attracted by Nyger seeds and will dine often if the feeders are kept filled.



Mourning doves scratching for seeds


Squirrels and some types of birds particularly enjoy pumpkin seeds and peanuts, so we also put those out when the weather becomes bleak and we’re pretty certain that the wildlife around us isn’t finding much food. During those periods, we also hang suet for the birds, especially those that hang around for the winter but don’t have a lot of food choices such as crows, robins, and the American goldfinches.


When you ensure adequate food supply for the furry and feathered creatures in your backyard, you will be rewarded with many entertaining and heart-warming images. Keep your camera handy for capturing squirrel contortions or surprising pictures of who dines with whom.

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