The (Sunflower) Heart of my Garden!

I feed a variety of bird foods in our garden trying to attract and satisfy a wide variety of species. I regularly move feeders about and change their positions so that birds move around the garden and I get to see which birds are using which feeders. A number of my feeders are not even visible from the house, hidden away behind a bush or deep in the garden in order to provide safe feeding.

I do like to keep a single sunflower heart feeder visible from the kitchen window though. Working from home and having school-age kids the kitchen window is still the most often used for some garden birdwatching while cooking/washing dishes/emptying the washing machine etc. My viewable sunflower heart feeder provides me with a regular turnover of different birds; no two days are exactly the same as I find hearts bring in such a good range of species.

If a new visitor turns up in the garden it will inevitably be on this one well-positioned and well-watched feeder, it might be the first Siskin for months, quickly joined by a partner or possibly a juvenile Robin darting in to grab a heart before darting back to a nearby perch. My view remains the same but Monday there are two Greenfinches, the always-angry looking male dominating the feeder, Tuesday brings Bullfinches, a male and two juveniles followed later in the day by a female.

The buzzing calls of Willow Tit occasionally alert me to one making frequent visits to the same feeder each time departing with a single heart; this wanderer may then go missing for weeks before turning up again unexpectedly, always back at the hearts. By the weekend the Tree Sparrows may be the ones dominating, particularly if I’ve left the mixed seed feeders run empty!

The local Wood Pigeons amuse me as they stretch out from the nearest branch to try and deftly pick a heart out before their weight tips them to far forward. Even times when there seems no birds, a closer look reveals the local Sparrowhawk has also noted the regular traffic on the hearts feeder and has arrived on the off-chance of a meal and perched up nearby. I can safely say my hearts feeder is the one feeder I would never want to do without.


Our Garden Birder’s Diary is written by Northumberland-based birder Alan Tilmouth who has been birdwatching for over 30 years and writing about birds in various guises for the last decade. A keen garden birdwatcher, he also manages to unearth the odd rare bird on his travels. You can find Alan on Twitter and his Facebook blog.