|Sunflower seeds for the birds, like this blue jay.|
Charles Lindinberg said, "If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than planes", and I agree. What a sad, sanitized and quiet existence it would be without our feathered neighbours. Things would actually be better without planes, on the other hand.
Birds generally are not doing so good these days. Numbers are declining the world over, which is very troubling. A decline in the number of birds also means a decline in the state of the environment. The birds (and the environment) need our help.
This past summer we were sent 3 precious sunflower seeds from a family member. Not 3 packs of sunflower seeds. 3 seeds. Not 2, not 4. Exactly three little seeds.
We planted them carefully, then nurtured them with staking and watering and worm castings and love. They responded by becoming three fantastically Fibonacci-spiralled beauties. Upon gazing into the yellow eye of the sacred spiral sunflower all bad things disappear, like a misty breath dissipating on a cold winter day. Nothing but beauty is left.
Staring into a sunflower is a good example of the Navajo prayer of Beauty:
Beauty before me.
Beauty behind me.
Beauty above me.
Beauty below me.
Beauty around me.
It is finished in beauty.
As the large flowers developed, and the seeds began to dry, I could see that the birds were testing them out, but finding them not quite ripe enough to pull from the flowers. Shortly after, one flower blew over in a wind storm.
I checked on the flower, now on the ground, the next day. I couldn't believe it - every single seed was gone. Picked 100% clean in only a few hours. Since I did not witness what ate them, I started to speculate. Was it mice? Mink? Birds? If birds, what kind of birds? I had to know.
I cut the stalks of the other two flowers, and hung them on our front porch so that we could observe them from inside our house. It did not take long before they attracted hungry flying feeders - blue jays and starlings, two birds we didn't see close to our house previously. Ah - ha.
They descended upon the flowers in numbers, sharing seeds with several birds landing at a time. And the show was going on just a few feet from our front door window. More beauty.
Over the next few days we watched as the diners cleaned their plates and moved on. In the middle I went out and collected a few juicy seed specimens before they were gone, for next year's garden.
I got more than three.
Growing sunflowers is a great way to introduce some beauty into your surroundings while helping out the birds at the same time.
Other things you can do for birds (and the environment):
- create safe places for birds to rest and nest in your yard and community
- use fewer pesticides and chemicals
- buy organic produce and products
- let dead trees stand
- install bird baths
- convert lawns and gardens to native plants
- school grounds, parks, vacant lots, and common areas can all be “bird-scaped"
- talk to others about your favourite birds and how they may be affected by climate change
- live simply