Birds Eating My Flowers: Why Do Birds Eat Flower Buds

cardinal forsythia 1
cardinal forsythia 1
(Image credit: Gardening Know How, via Nikki Tilley)

Gardeners are constantly worrying about protecting their plants from hungry deer, rabbits, and insects. Sometimes our feathered friends can also eat flowers and flower buds from certain plants. Read more to learn why birds eat flower buds and tips on flower bud protection from birds.

Why Do Birds Eat Flower Buds?

Certain flower buds provide birds with nutrition in early spring when their preferred fruit and seeds are not available. The following blossoms provide energy for migrating cedar waxwings in the spring:

Cardinals, finches, mockingbirds, blue jays, goldfinches, grosbeaks, quail, and grouse have also been known to feed on these fruit tree blossoms. Both finches and cardinals also seem to be quite fond of forsythia flowers. Although birds usually will not eat enough of the buds to damage the plant, there are a few simple ways to prevent birds from eating flower buds.

What to do When Birds are Eating My Flowers

Most garden centers carry netting to protect plants from birds. There are a few problems with this netting. If the netting is placed right on the plant, birds can still poke through and get some buds. The best way to cover your plant with this netting is to use stakes or wood to support the netting up over and around the plant without it actually touching the plant. This may be difficult on the large shrubs and small trees that birds like to treat themselves to. Also, if the netting is not stretched tightly around the plant or supports, birds can get entangled in it. Fine mesh chicken wire can also be used to wrap around plants being eaten by birds. Hanging pie tins in fruit trees is a traditional method of preventing birds from eating flower buds. The shiny surface, reflective light, and movement of the pie tin twirling in the wind scare birds away. A modern twist on this old tradition is hanging old CDs from fruit trees. Anything that spins and sways in the breeze, scattering reflected light around, can protect flower buds from birds. Birds also don't like the noise from chimes hanging in the trees. Twinkling outdoor lights may deter birds too. You can also create a bird friendly flower bed in a different part of the yard. Place bird baths and hang feeders to give the birds a better option than dining on your fruit tree buds.

Darcy Larum