Thursday, 13 August 2009

How to Eat Sunflower Seeds and a Poem

Many birds love Sunflower seed hearts and kibbled Sunflower seeds, especially those in the tit and finch families. How they eat them depends on the shape and sturdiness of their beak.

The Coal, Blue and Great Tits which visit the garden pick one seed at a time and usually take it somewhere they can hold it between their toes and peck small pieces off. As an example here is a video of a Great Tit on a branch doing just that.

On the other hand the finches with their broader, tougher beaks can stay at the feeder where they roll the seed round until they break it enough to eat, like this Greenfinch.

Once again I have been honoured with a poem from Glo of Porcelain Rose. The first verse refers to yesterday's butterfly and Sparrow videos.

As sparrows chatter on the cage
in search of bugs to eat,
a butterfly sups nectar from
a sunflower so sweet.

The second seemed to fit in well with a photo I took of Bobby yesterday morning. After a walk in fine weather he was so disappointed when it started to rain after breakfast that the went back to bed for a couple of hours.

It’s evident that all is well,
with Bobby as the scout -
who settles down to take a nap
when finished walkabout...

My 60mph couch potato.
Wake Me When the Sun Comes Out

On the hedgehog front:


No news about Hope, the young hedgehog, from Elaine but it hasn't been a week yet. The two adults continue to visit after dark. I was hoping to get some video but things are conspiring against me getting clear pictures. Bobby looked so disappointed last night. Henry had been feeding and was still there as I got the camera ready and let Bobby out at bedtime. He made a beeline for the spot but Henry had disappeared. Bobby could smell where Henry had been and just stood there looking puzzled - a strong smell of Hedgehog but nothing in sight!


  1. That is fascinating about how the different birds manage sunflower seeds. The video of course makes it so clear. Great!

  2. Thank you Mick. The main advantage of the camcorder is being able to zoom in and capture the action. It is so easy to miss the detail with a casual observation, especially when birds like the Greenfinches and Chaffinches gobble their food so fast!

  3. This is spooky John
    I was sat at my window yesterday carefully observing numerous Greenfinches on the feeders, rolling the seeds in their beaks just as you say.
    Yes and from the other feeder, the tits would take on seed at a time before flying up into the apple tree and pecking at it
    I have always been confused as to why on occasion they would prefer to take a seed, minute in comparison, rather than a whole peanut, from an adjacent feeder, as they often do

  4. Hi Prof. A B Y. I found that whole peanuts were often ignored and the feeder would stay full for days on end going mouldy. Then I decided to try crushing them, a tedious job with a hammer and a pile of peanuts between newspaper! Next I bought a cheap (under £10) small electric food chopper. I now use that to break the peanuts. It is not over efficient but the birds now go for the peanuts like there will be no tomorrow. All that is left in the bottom of the feeder are nuts which didn't get split or chopped.

  5. I loved both the videos John and they clearly show the differences. I have always liked watching the tits dealing with their food like that, when you see it in close up on the video it shows they are just as untidy as the finches though! They could all do with those hard plastic babies' bibs they used to have years ago with the big pocket to catch stray food called Pelican bibs, a rather apt name in this case ;)

    Blogger is a strange old thing, when I first viewed this post there was only a Flickr link to the lovely photo of Bobby but now all is as it should be!

  6. Thank you Jan. There seem to have been glitches with Flickr on and off today as some photos keep going AWOL.

    Weird thing today - broadband perfect - phone dead! Don't you just love modern technology.

    I noticed also that the birds get as much on the outside of their beaks as they eat and always end up having to rub the mess off when they finish.
    I also thought they could do with the bib you mentioned. :)

  7. Goodmorning John,

    Great post loved the video's on the differences that birds use to eat the same seed. I have noticed these things bu never thought to video it....but you sure do :) Love your picture of your sweet.

  8. Hi Crista. Thank you.
    I have 2 rules for photography:
    1) If it stays still - photograph it
    2) If it moves video it.
    I just try to keep a record of what goes on around the gardens.

    All animals (and children) look sweet when they are asleep :)

  9. Fascinating to watch how different birds tackle the same food John.
    Bobby looks raring to go there lol

  10. Hi Keith. The eyes shut and the body relaxed but the ears are always on full alert!

  11. Interesting viewing of various ways to nibble at a sunflower seed. I notice it's mostly the sunflowers that disappear from my bird feeders. I read your post and responses with interest... and then had to take a break from the computer before I started putting pelican bibs on birds! You don't know how ideas like these jump into my imagination and have a whale of a time conjuring up all sorts of images. Photoshop and I have stayed up late many a night! Anyway, be thankful I refrained! (and I don't mean like a refrain in song or poetry ;) Could Bobby look any more comfortable?

  12. Hi again Glo. It does conjure up quite a mental picture :)

    Bobby has definitely mastered the art of being comfortable.

  13. I was wondering if you had heard anything about the sick little Hope. Your pup looks so cute sleeping...


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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