Last year I discovered that while my two bird feeders were quite popular, there was another very attractive source of seeds in the yard that was equally as appealing to certain birds: the Rudbeckia maxima (Giant Coneflowers) I had planted near a wrought-iron fence. I watched one day as a small bird flew by, grabbed a stalk in its little talon, pulled the stalk over to the fence, and perched there, nibbling seeds off the cone.
Since then, I have been happy to share the flowers with the birds. I can see the attraction; the Rudbeckia are stunning–they are tall (about 7 ft.) and cheerful, with clumps of silvery-blue foliage and lovely yellow ray flowers pointing down from the base of the cone. The cone starts off light green but then turns dark brown as the plant matures and the seeds come in. And then, it’s buffet time for finches, chickadees, and other birds. A self-service seed bar, courtesy of Mother Nature.
Even after the petals have dried up and fallen off, Rudbeckia maxima seed heads can play a striking role in the autumn garden: here is a whole one and a section in close-up.