Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: safflower, rape, millet, thistle--what to grow for bird food?

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Name: Jai (or Jack)
Pennsylvania (Zone 6a)
Om shanti shanti om.
Jan 12, 2017 3:28 AM CST
I have a patch of my yard that I'd like to grow bird food in. I am not sure what would go best though. It gets about 5-6 hours of sun per day coming from the south-southeast. So that's part-sun. I don't mind if the plants don't do TERRIBLY well and I expect whatever I plant to look scraggly because it's literally for the birds.

Do you guys have any other ideas as to species I could plant? I'm also thinking about poppies (edible seeds), cosmos, and nasturtiums. I'm open to any suggestions.
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
Critters Allowed Dog Lover Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Composter
Jan 12, 2017 10:19 AM CST
Do you see specific birds in your area? Maybe see what their favorites are. You might also consider some native plants that the birds will be attracted to.

This year I'm planning to grow several varieties of amaranth for my chickens but I suspect all of the wild birds will like it too. It is known to grow in just about any conditions from full sun to part, and various soil conditions. Smiling

If you have room for a small tree or shrub somewhere in your yard, something in the Viburnum species. This gives them both food and shelter.

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

[Last edited by wildflowers - Jan 12, 2017 10:21 AM (+)]
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Name: Ronnie
Southeastern PA (Zone 6b)
Morning Glories Garden Photography Region: Pennsylvania Charter ATP Member Orchids Dragonflies
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1 I helped beta test the first seed swap Bookworm Bee Lover
Jan 12, 2017 1:44 PM CST
The Goldfinch flock to my coneflower and rudbeckia. Sunflowers too. My holly gets cleared of berries from the Robins.
I've never grown it but Cardinals go for the safflower.
It happens in a flash, but the memory of it last forever. It can not be borrowed or stolen, and it is of no earthly good until it is given away. So if in your hurry you meet someone who is too weary to smile, leave him one of yours, for no one needs a smile quite as much as he who has none to give...

Name: Morgan
IL (Zone 5b)
Winter Sowing Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Jan 12, 2017 5:50 PM CST
Were you looking just for plants that would attract birds, or do you plan to harvest seeds to feed birds? I assume the former, but for some reason the way you phrased it (patch to grow bird food) made me wonder.

I've grown poppies, but never saw any birds at them. I don't think the seed pod shape is easy for them to eat from and the tiny seed would get lost on the ground. The seeds from various sunflowers, echinacea, and coreopsis are very popular here. Some will grow in part sun, just not as vigorously. Also, remember that many birds eat insects, spiders, worms, etc. Not using any pesticides is extremely important.

Like wildflowers said too, there are many shrubs that provide fruit that is loved by the birds. Birds like cedar waxwings like juniper "berries" a lot. They aren't really berries though, they just look like them. Some evergreen shrubs would also provide winter shelter.
Name: Judy
Mid Atlantic Coastal Plain USA (Zone 7b)
Jan 12, 2017 7:53 PM CST
My elderberries disappear as soon as ripe and the single flowered Zinnias are picked clean. My asters and goldenrods are gone over by the smaller birds in the late fall. as well as the bloom heads of tall sedums like 'Autumn Joy'. Mullberries are another popular early fruit.
Name: Jai (or Jack)
Pennsylvania (Zone 6a)
Om shanti shanti om.
Jan 12, 2017 11:55 PM CST
Thank you. I'm hoping to grow it and let them pick it off the plants--no harvesting.

I'm hesitant to plant bushes because I already have about ten zillion of varying sizes.

Every kind of bird you can think of which lives in PA visits me--cardinals, jays, tits, nuthatches, robins, even sea birds (and I'm hours from Lake Erie).
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Name: Jai (or Jack)
Pennsylvania (Zone 6a)
Om shanti shanti om.
Jan 13, 2017 12:01 AM CST
This is a blurry phone picture (please forgive me) but here are the two crows (always the same two) which visit me. As you can see, they were playing by jumping and splashing down in the snow.

I feed them dog biscuits, Lance crackers, dead mice (I'm a geneticist of sorts, don't ask lol) and other goodies so they keep coming back. But they're the only two crows who ever do. All the others are scared.

Thumb of 2017-01-13/Jai_Ganesha/2e0353

The muddy area is where the squirrels had been digging for goodies which fell through the snow. This is the area around and under the feeders that I want to plant with bird edibles next spring.
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