Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mystery of the Disappearing Sunflowers

Each year, I have sunflowers that volunteer under my birdfeeder as if to remind me to be more diligent at keeping the feeders full, so that the birds won't have to sacrifice a few seeds in order to grow their own food. This year was no different and Henry and I were thrilled to have the sunny yellow and brown faces smiling back at us through the windows. Last year, we had plenty of sunflowers, then one day, the heads were gone. I suspected the squirrels, but didn't have proof. This year, again, a few heads began to disappear. I happened to be looking out the kitchen window one afternoon, when I noticed fierce movement beneath the sunflower patch. On closer inspection, two small furry gray legs appeared beneath one of the flower heads, now bent almost to the ground. I grabbed my camera and sneaked over to the fence. The mystery was now solved. The little guy gets my vote for most tenacious forager. He would look up lovingly at a blossom, reach up and begin pulling, often ending up on his back when the flower stalk pulled back too much. He never gave up, but went on pulling and nibbling until the entire blossom was eaten: seed head, calyx, petals and all.
Now, some of you may ask why I didn't shoo him off from "my flower." Well, they're not mine entirely. We garden for ourselves, but we also take into consideration what the plants will do for the wildlife in our area. There are enough blueberries in the grocery store that a few pinched by the local birds from my bushes won't throw me into a state of starvation. Likewise, our figs will be shared this year, I'm sure. After all, the sunflower seeds were put out to feed the birds, so I consider the plants fair game to any wildlife that can make a meal off of them.
Plus, you can't beat a squirrel for entertainment. Just find a window and pull up a chair:)

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