Monday, August 20, 2007

Naked Sunflowers

As I was laying in bed one morning I was watching the Lesser Goldfinches in the yard. There have been more Goldfinches this year then we have ever had. There will be 30 of them on or around one feeder at a time!! We have three thistle feeders, you do the math! Now this morning they would be on the feeder and then they would move off onto the two Sunflowers that were growing in one of the flower beds. Jessy and I had planted this bed with Coneflowers and Daises the beginning of summer. Sometime along the way the birds decided that they wanted a couple of sunflowers in there also and they went ahead and planted them. I figured why not and left them to grow. They were getting pretty big with their normal huge leaves and beginning of a flower starting.

As you can see from this picture of a sunflower that I took a couple of years ago the leaves are nice and large and there are lots of them.
Well, that morning as I watched the Goldfinches something happened to those poor old sunflowers. At first I thought they were just eating the ants off the plants. There are always lots of ants everywhere and I know the birds do eat them so I thought good, the birds get something to eat and I'll get the ant population reduced for a couple of days. The more I watched the weirder it became. This is how the sunflower ended up:

In flocks of thirty or so the Goldfinches ate every leaf off those two sunflowers!! I had never seen behavior like this although I'm sure it is quite common. Steve said that he noticed the same thing happening in his yard. That is one of the advantages of having a backyard habitat, you get to see things you wouldn't notice in the wild.

The good news is that this picture was taken a couple of weeks after they ate the leaves off and you can see it didn't stop the sunflower from growing and blooming.

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