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Sunflower Hearts Bird Food

Sunflower hearts offer an ideal birdfood option for birdwatchers living in apartments or condominiums.

Sharon Stiteler

Cardinal at Bird Feeder
Sunflower hearts attract finches, chickadees, Northern Cardinals, nuthatches, buntings, grosbeaks, and, on rare occasions, even warblers, orioles and American Robins.

Excerpted from "The Need for Seed” in "Popular Birding Series: Backyard Birding,” published by BirdChannel.com publisher I-5 Publishing LLC.

The only backyard bird food that can rival black-oil sunflower bird seed in popularity is the sunflower heart. This bird food can go by many names, including hearts, sunflower pieces, sunflower chips, and hulled or shelled sunflowers.

The sunflower chips can come in different sizes, including the whole heart, medium-sized chips and even extra-fine chips to fit through the tiny holes of a finch feeder. Because the sunflower heart is out of the shell, it will not germinate, and many birders like to offer sunflower hearts to avoid a shell mess, making it ideal for people who live in apartments or condominiums.

Backyard bird species that eat sunflower hearts include finches, chickadees, Northern Cardinals, nuthatches, buntings, grosbeaks, and, on rare occasions, even warblers, orioles and American Robins.

There are some downsides, however, to offering sunflower hearts to your backyard birds. First, seeds out of the shell cost more.

Second, hearts can become moldy quickly after rain or even in high humidity. It’s a good idea to periodically check the backyard bird feeder and maybe shake it to make sure the hearts are not clumping. Backyard birds usually have enough sense to avoid moldy bird seed, but if they do eat moldy bird seed, it could be lethal.

A final downside to the sunflower hearts is that they are very attractive to European Starlings because they are out of the shell. If starlings are a problem in your neighborhood, avoid this bird food.

Want to learn more about the different types of bird seed? Check out these articles:

Backyard Bird Seed Mixes
White Millet Seed
Thistle, Niger or Nyjer Bird Seeds


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Posted: April 4, 2013, 10:45 a.m. PDT

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