Sunflowers are not only beautiful, but they also serve as a source of food for various animals. In this article by Wildlife Informer, readers will discover nine different animals that eat sunflowers. From squirrels and chipmunks to deer and rabbits, these animals find sunflower seeds and petals to be a tasty treat. Even insects like spittlebugs and honey bees are attracted to sunflowers for their nectar and vibrant colors. Additionally, raccoons and birds, such as American goldfinches, have an appetite for sunflower seeds. Whether you have a sunflower garden or come across these flowers in the wild, it’s fascinating to learn about the animals that indulge in this delightful snack.
Animals That Eat Sunflowers
Sunflowers are not only beautiful flowers, but they also serve as a food source for various animals. From squirrels to birds, there are several species that enjoy feasting on these vibrant blooms. In this article, we will explore nine different animals that have a taste for sunflowers.
Scientific Name: Sciuridae
Squirrels are small rodents that come in various species and sizes, ranging from 5 to 36 inches in length and weighing between 0.5 ounces and 4 pounds. These clever creatures have adapted to different habitats, with some living in trees and others residing underground. While their diets consist of nuts, seeds, roots, and other vegetation, squirrels particularly enjoy indulging in sunflowers when they are available. If given the chance, they will consume the entire head of a sunflower, relishing in its deliciousness.
Scientific Name: Tamias
Chipmunks may be small, but their love for sunflower seeds is big. These ground squirrels, often mistaken for their larger counterparts, belong to the same family and share similar omnivorous feeding habits. With distinct black stripes on their backs, these chipper little creatures scurry around in search of nuts, seeds, fruit, small frogs, worms, and insects. If you have sunflowers in your garden, don’t be surprised to see a chipmunk shimmying up the stems to reach the tasty seeds in the flower’s center.
Scientific Name: Odocoileus
Deer, including mule deer and white-tailed deer, are members of the Cervidae family. Native to North America, these herbivores have a penchant for plants and flowers. Sunflowers, with their sweet petals and nutritious seeds, are a favorite snack for these majestic creatures. If you have a field of sunflowers, chances are you can spot a few deer roaming around, attempting to snag a tasty treat.
Scientific Name: Arvicolinae
Voles, tiny rodents closely related to hamsters and lemmings, are notorious for their love of plants and seeds. With over 155 vole species, these critters can often be found in fields where sunflowers grow. They munch on fallen seeds and also burrow under the ground to feast on the root systems of the plants. While their presence may be a nuisance for farmers, voles find sunflowers to be an irresistible treat.
5. Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Scientific Name: Sylvilagus floridanus
The Eastern Cottontail Rabbit is the most common wild rabbit species in North America. These herbivores have a diverse diet, consisting of plants, grass, twigs, bark, and clovers. While they may be a bit of a pest for gardeners, rabbits find sunflower seeds to be a tasty delight. You can often find them in sunflower fields, happily snacking on fallen seeds and petals.
Scientific Name: Philaenus spumarius
These wingless insects may be small, but they leave a noticeable mark on plants. Spittlebugs get their name from the spittle-like mass they create while feeding on plants. Gardeners can easily spot their presence by the tell-tale sign of foamy spittle left behind. While spittlebugs feed on a variety of plants, including flowers and fruits, they also have a fondness for sunflowers. Luckily, they don’t cause significant damage to sunflowers or other plants during their feeding process.
7. Honey Bees
Scientific Name: Apis
Honey bees, known for their essential role in pollination, are attracted to sunflowers due to their bright colors. The yellow petals of sunflowers emit UV light that is visible to honey bees. These social and winged creatures consume the nectar from sunflowers while pollinating them in the process. Their contribution ensures that the next crop of sunflowers can thrive.
Scientific Name: Procyon lotor
Raccoons are known for their omnivorous appetites, devouring anything within their reach. These nocturnal animals have agile paws that enable them to explore and find food, especially during the night. Sunflower seeds are particularly tasty to raccoons, and if you have a bird feeder filled with these seeds, you might find a raccoon paying you a visit.
Birds of various species also enjoy the seeds found within sunflowers. From chickadees and cardinals to woodpeckers and bluejays, these feathered creatures are attracted to the nutritious center of the sunflower or seeds hanging in bird feeders. A particularly eye-catching visitor to sunflowers is the American Goldfinch, known for its bright yellow plumage. By growing a sunflower garden, bird watchers can attract a diverse array of colorful birds.
In conclusion, sunflowers serve not only as beautiful additions to gardens and fields but also as a vital food source for numerous animal species. Squirrels, chipmunks, deer, voles, rabbits, spittlebugs, honey bees, raccoons, and various birds all appreciate the flavors and benefits that sunflowers offer. So, the next time you admire a sunflower, remember that it’s not only a delightful sight for humans but also a delectable treat for many of our animal friends.