For generations, it has been an accepted practice to remove dead flowering plants before the onset of autumn. Nowadays gardeners are beginning to leave the stalks and seed heads of many flowers that have long since bloomed. They don’t refrain from removing them because they are lazy. Instead, they do it because they have come to realize that the seed heads found on these dry plants are loaded with nutritious seeds. As such, they are a source of food for a wide variety of birds throughout the fall and winter. Our native black-eyed Susan and coneflowers are examples of such plants.
Here are some of the birds that dine on seeds of these garden favorites:
Black-eyed Susan—American goldfinch, Carolina Chickadee, northern cardinal, white-breasted nuthatch, sparrows, and the eastern towhee.
Coneflowers—mourning dove, blue jay, dark-eyed junco, American goldfinch, downy woodpecker, northern cardinal Carolina chickadee, pine siskin and sparrows such as the white-throated, chipping, and song.