As Summer transitions to Autumn, wildflowers transform from a riot of colour to a more subdued palette. The vibrant blooms may be fading, but the magic continues! Among the golden hues and rustic browns of September and October, the wildflower seed heads are taking centre stage. Wildflower seed heads are intricate structures that come in an array of shapes, sizes, and textures. Often overlooked, seed heads are not only visually interesting but are a vital source of food for our feathered friends. Elegant and tall Teasel – Dipsacus fullonum and architectural, umbellifer forms of Wild Carrot – Daucus carota, all make for an interesting garden. They make brilliant décor pieces to add to a dried bouquet or to display in an Autumnal Wreath, which we are workshopping on 9th October. But beyond their visual appeal and craft friendly forms, wildflower seed heads play a crucial role in providing sustenance for a variety of bird species.
Seeds in the Ecosystem
- A natural food source: Native wildflower seed heads are a bountiful source of food, which is ready right when indigenous wildlife needs it. The seeds are rich in essential nutrients that provide energy and sustenance coming into Winter.
- Supporting Biodiversity: Wildflowers are a great help to biodiversity. By allowing seed heads to remain, we provide vital sustenance for seed-eating birds like Finches and Sparrows. This, along with small mammals feeding on the seed, can attract predator bird populations such as Sparrow Hawk and Owls.
- Natural Gardening: Leave the work for the birds! As they forage for seeds, they assist in naturally dispersing wildflower seeds throughout your garden. It’s a win-win situation – the birds get a meal, and your garden continues to flourish! If you do have a healthy population of garden birds, collect some seed to keep as back up!
- Providing a home: Leftover seed heads and stems provide shelter for small mammals and insects. Over Winter as they can use the seed pods and vegetation to create temporary homes.
Encouraging Feathered Visitors
To make your garden or meadow more inviting to birds, consider these tips:
- Plant native wildflowers: By sowing native-origin wildflower seed, your meadow will be better suited to its local environment and wildlife. Our Bee Butterfly Bird Mix is perfect for this.
- Leave the seed heads: Resist the urge to tidy up your garden too soon in the Autumn. Leaving seed heads provide a great food source for birds in Autumn which helps them survive Winter.
- Provide water: A birdbath or water feature can be a valuable addition to your garden, ensuring that birds have access to both food and water.
- Create a sheltered space: Birds appreciate a safe and sheltered spot to rest between feasting sessions. Shrubs, trees, or birdhouses can offer protection.
Some Birds To Spot
- Finches: These cheerful birds are especially fond of wildflower seed. Their dainty beaks are well-suited to extracting seeds from the seed heads.
- Sparrows: House Sparrows and other Sparrow species also relish the seeds of wildflowers. Their visits can add a lively and melodious dimension to your garden.
- Linnets: These small, colourful birds have a particular liking for wildflower seeds. They often visit meadows and gardens in search of these seeds as a food source.
- Sparrow Hawk: Sparrow Hawks are skilled hunters known for their agility in capturing small birds, including sparrows and finches.
- Kestrel: Kestrels are birds of prey that primarily feed on small rodents and insects. They can be seen hovering over meadows or gardens as they hunt for their prey who enjoy wildflower seeds!
- Buzzard: Buzzards are larger birds of prey that primarily feed on small mammals. Similarly to Kestrels they are not interested in seeds but may pass over your garden while searching for their prey who feed on seeds.
Nurturing An Ecosystem
Wildflower seed heads contain the seeds needed for the seasons to come. As birds eat the seeds, they contribute to the natural cycle of seed dispersal, eating some, dropping some and moving them from place to place. Leaving wildflower seed heads undisturbed in your garden is a simple but great way of nurturing nature. It’s an invitation for birds to dine, for wildflowers to flourish, and for nature to unfold undisturbed. So, this Autumn, embrace the magic of wildflower seed heads. Watch as your garden becomes a sanctuary for both wildflowers and the birds that rely on them. In doing so, you’re not just gardening; you’re participating in a beautiful, interconnected dance of life that happens in our ecosystems.
Happy birdwatching, may your garden thrive!
Stay tuned for more exciting news and join the movement to conserve our native wildflowers for generations to come! Together, we can make a real difference.
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