If you have ever fed wild birds, you know they love sunflower seeds. Squirrels, too, compete with birds at feeders and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Wild animals don’t draw a line when it comes to food, and your ripening sunflower heads are also a target. Preventing bird and squirrel sunflower damage may seem like a round the clock defense strategy, but take heart. We have some simple tricks on how to deter birds and squirrels and save your sunflower seeds.
How to Deter Birds and Squirrels from Sunflowers
Admittedly, it’s kind of cute when squirrels shimmy their way up towering sunflowers to feast on the seeds, but what if you want to save that seed? Protecting sunflowers from birds and squirrels will help you keep the harvest all to yourself. You can get creative to deter birds eating sunflowers and squirrels taking your hard won harvest.
Using netting over the flower or entire plant can prevent many seed thieves. Plant decoy plants, keep bird feeders filled, and place feeding sites for squirrels. If they aren’t hungry, they are not as likely to go after your plant.
There are sprays and repellents available that, combined with covering the flower, should work in combo. Rather than play around with such measures, you can also just harvest the flowers. Pick them when the back of the flower turns from green to deeply yellow. Set the seed heads in a dry, warm location to cure.
Birds Eating Sunflower Plants
It’s only natural to see birds eating sunflower. However, their feast is your loss, so protective measures must ensue. You can try a scarecrow, the classic way to scare away birds or use any fluttering, moving item that will startle them away. One easy method is to hang CDs to sway and glitter in the sunlight.
Draping the plant in holiday tinsel is another quick way to frighten birds away from your seeds. You can also cover the heads so birds can’t get to them so easily. Simple brown paper bags slipped over the flowers will let the seeds continue to ripen while deterring the birds.
Squirrels Eating Sunflower
Start protecting sunflowers by planting thorny or sharp plants around the base. You can use cardboard or metal to fashion a baffle just under the flower. These will prevent the animal from reaching its prize. Alternatively, you can wrap sheet metal or even aluminum foil around the stalk, but you will have to go quite high up, as squirrels are excellent jumpers.
Many gardeners find success in simply covering the flower itself with a mesh container, like a berry crate. Squirrels reportedly dislike mothballs. Hang a few from sturdy leaf petioles and repel the little critters. Sharply scented herbs and spicy sprays are also excellent repellents.