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Thread: Dandelion Eating Birds?

  1. #1 Dandelion Eating Birds? 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    So much goes on that we never see. Is there a word for the feeling of awe or amazement when observing something natural that you never knew or suspected took place? I like watching the birds at our feeders and for the most part itís business as usual. Land, grab a seed, husk and eat it, keep an eye out for predators and fly off.

    They sometimes opt to naturally forage in the mowed grass beneath. No idea what they find but seems thereís always something being consumed. The other day I see something Iíve never witnessed before, a finch eating the yellow flower of a dandelion. Not the white parachute of a dandelion gone to seed but the flower itself. It would stab into it, the flower would break off and then the bird shook it until a beak sized yellow portion broke off to be consumed. Kind of like when a bird grabs a piece of bread and shakes it apart. My wife also saw this and for us, it was totally new experience.

    Yesterday we drive along Niagara River and stop at one of many lookout/rest areas that line the riverís banks. Birds are foraging amongst some early Spring grass and dandelions. We started talking about the dandelion eating finch we saw in our backyard couple days previous when lo and behold a sparrow starts dining on a dandelion flower in front of us. Twice over two days I witness the same event and so I start wondering is this something new? Google time. Turns out these birds will eat dandelion seeds, except in our case the plants show no evidence of going to seed as yet.

    My question is whether or not developing seeds are available in the flower prior to it forming the familiar white ball of mature seeds ready to be set adrift with the wind? Unless thereís nutritional value in the petals, idk.


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Forum Masters Degree Double Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    My question is whether or not developing seeds are available in the flower prior to it forming the familiar white ball of mature seeds ready to be set adrift with the wind? Unless there’s nutritional value in the petals, idk.
    Many backyard birds will eat flowers in the spring since there are not a lot of seeds and other food at that time of year. Not knowing much about the dandelion, included 'nutritional value petals' as a search term and came up with what you have surmised - there is nutritional value in the petals (1).

    It turns out the whole plant has value, from the roots to the leaves to the flower petals (2). Birds eat a number of different flowers - they are considered pests by those who grow such gardens.

    So if you feel like eating some, try plucking some dandelions and chew on those for a while. Apparently good for you. Certainly is for the birds. Let us know how they taste!



    "Is The Healthiest Part Of Dandelion Its Flower?"

    1. https://wildfoodism.com/2014/04/17/is-the-healthiest-part-of-dandelion-its-flower/


    "Dandelions for Dinner"

    2. https://abirdsbestlife.wordpress.com...ns-for-dinner/


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    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Thanks for those links DH. Next time I’m lost in the woods and need some nutrition I’ll surely wolf down some dandelion flowers if I come across them. I know there are people who make wine from them and occasionally in my travels I’ll see people harvesting dandelions in a field. Of course as a kid I did try eating one but I didn’t like the taste, especially the whiteish fluid that runs inside the stem. Nowadays we don’t bother eliminating them from yard. Dandelions seem to have Spring as their main growth season and only sparsely spread about after that.

    Dandelions grow so low now that even mower blades can’t reach them. Birds seem to love it when lawn gets mowed and are all over it once mowing complete. Figure must be easier to locate prey in short grass but idk. Was a cold Spring and not many insects to dine on so probably why I saw birds eating dandelion flower. Must be learned behavior I figure. Part of a good forage.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Forum Masters Degree Double Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Was a cold Spring and not many insects to dine on so probably why I saw birds eating dandelion flower. Must be learned behavior I figure. Part of a good forage.
    That is right, it was a cold spring and those birds would be looking for anything that might provide nourishment.

    Certainly could be a learned behavior.

    Problem for birds now is that Avian influenza virus. Many wild birds are catching it and spreading it around.

    This is a particularly bad time for birds of prey and carrion feeders. Many are getting hit by this virus from infected birds, and chicken farms are culling millions of them.

    Better to stick with dandelions, if they can....
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