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Birds and sunflowers

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

In my part of the state, farmers plant large fields of sunflowers to attract mourning doves during the legal hunting season. Doves are delicious -I learned a lot about bird anatomy helping my mother clean ones my father brought home. The list of other birds that relish these seeds is lengthy, a short list includes ring-necked pheasants, quail bobolinks, goldfinches, meadowlarks, nuthatches and tufted titmice. Mammals, too, enjoy the seeds – many types of mice, ground squirrels, and chipmunks. As for deer, sadly they absolutely love all parts of the plants from the tender young stems and leaves to even the mature heads. The black seeded sunflower has a larger kernel than others and the outer hull is relatively soft for birds to crack. The U S Fish and Wildlife service rates them as the number one food for birds.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.