If you’re looking for a way to attract birds to your backyard, safflower seeds might be the answer. These small, white seeds are high in protein and fat, making them a nutritious snack for many species of birds.
One of the best things about safflower seeds is that they are less likely to attract unwanted guests to your bird feeder. Squirrels and blackbirds tend to stay away, leaving more food for the birds you want to attract. Safflower seeds have a tough outer shell that is difficult for some birds to crack open, which means less mess and waste in your yard.
Understanding Safflower Seeds
If you’re looking for a nutritious and affordable food option for the birds in your backyard, safflower seeds might be a great choice. Safflower seeds are the seeds of the safflower plant, scientifically known as Carthamus tinctorius. They are small, white, and teardrop-shaped.
Safflower plants are a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual plant. It’s commercially cultivated for vegetable oil extracted from the seeds. Plants are 30 to 150 cm tall with globular flower heads having yellow, orange, or red flowers. Each branch typically has one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 seeds per head.
Safflower is native to arid environments with seasonal rain. It grows a deep taproot which enables it to thrive in such environments. It’s also known for its resistance to disease and ability to handle extreme temperatures.
Safflower seeds are a great source of nutrition for birds. They are high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, making them a great option for birds that need a lot of energy to fly and forage. Safflower seeds are rich in oils, which provide birds with the essential fatty acids they need to maintain healthy feathers and skin.
When purchasing safflower seeds, you have the option to buy them in bulk or in packaged products. Buying in bulk can be more affordable, but packaged products are often more convenient and easier to store. Be sure to check the expiration date on packaged products to ensure that the seeds are fresh.
It’s important to note that not all birds will eat safflower seeds. However, some of the birds that commonly eat safflower seeds include cardinals, jays, chickadees, nuthatches, grosbeaks, titmice, doves, finches, and house sparrows. If you’re not sure if safflower seeds are a good option for the birds in your area, try offering a small amount and see if any birds come to feed.
The Taste of Safflower Seeds
Safflower seeds are a popular choice for bird feeders, and one of the reasons for their popularity is their taste. Unlike sunflower seeds, which have a nutty flavor, safflower seeds have a mild, slightly bitter taste that many birds find appealing, though some birds don’t like only safflower seeds so many people mix them up.
One of the advantages of safflower seeds is that they are not as attractive to squirrels and other rodents as other types of birdseed. This is because they have a bitter taste that many mammals find unpalatable. So, if you’re looking for a way to feed your backyard birds without attracting unwanted pests, safflower seeds may be a good choice.
Another benefit of safflower seeds is that they are high in protein, which is an essential nutrient for birds. Birds need protein to build and repair their feathers, and to maintain their overall health. Safflower seeds are also a good source of fiber, which helps birds digest their food and maintain healthy digestive systems.
When it comes to feeding your backyard birds, it’s important to offer a variety of foods to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. Safflower seeds can be a great addition to your bird feeding routine, especially if you’re looking for a seed that is less attractive to squirrels and other pests.
Squirrels and Safflower Seeds
Squirrels can be a nuisance when it comes to bird feeding. These little critters can be very persistent and will stop at nothing to get their paws on the birdseed in your backyard. Thankfully, squirrels and chipmunks don’t like safflower seeds because they taste incredibly bitter to them. This bitterness is a big part of why standard birdseed mixes contain so many safflower kernels.
You can serve safflower seed in a hopper feeder or a platform feeder for these birds to devour. Or, you can sprinkle some on the ground for mourning doves to find, too.
It’s important to note that while squirrels and chipmunks don’t like safflower seeds, they may still try to eat them if they are hungry enough. To prevent this, you can try using squirrel-proof bird feeders or placing your bird feeders in locations that are difficult for squirrels to reach.
Birds That Enjoy Safflower Seeds
Here are some of the birds that enjoy safflower seeds:
|Bird Species||Eats Safflower Seeds|
Feeding Safflower Seeds to Birds
Safflower seeds are a great option for feeding birds because they are high in protein and fat, which provides them with a good source of energy. They are also a good source of fiber, which helps to keep their digestive systems healthy. When feeding safflower seeds to birds, it’s important to make sure they are fresh and free from any mold or mildew.
Ground-Feeding Birds and Safflower Seeds
Ground-feeding birds such as doves, blackbirds, and sparrows will also eat safflower seeds. If you have a ground feeder in your backyard, you can scatter some safflower seeds on the ground for them to enjoy. Just be aware that this may also attract other ground-feeding animals such as squirrels and chipmunks.
What Types of Birds Eat Safflower Seeds
- Cardinals: Cardinals are one of the most popular birds that enjoy safflower seeds. They have strong beaks that can crack open the hard shells of the seeds, making them a great source of food for these birds.
- Finches: House finches, goldfinches, and purple finches all enjoy safflower seeds. These birds have small beaks that are well-suited for cracking open the seeds.
- Chickadees: Black-capped chickadees, Carolina chickadees, and other chickadee species will also eat safflower seeds. These birds are known for their acrobatic abilities and will often hang upside down from feeders to get to the seeds.
- Grosbeaks: Black-headed grosbeaks and rose-breasted grosbeaks are both fans of safflower seeds. These birds have large beaks that are well-suited for cracking open the hard shells of the seeds.
- Woodpeckers: Downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and other woodpecker species will also eat safflower seeds. These birds have strong beaks that can crack open the seeds, and they are also known for their ability to cling to trees and feeders.
- Titmice: Tufted titmice and other titmouse species will also eat safflower seeds. These birds have small beaks that are well-suited for cracking open the seeds, and they are known for their acrobatic abilities.
- Blue Jays: Blue jays are also fans of safflower seeds. These birds have strong beaks that can crack open the seeds, and they are known for their bold and noisy personalities.
How to Feed Safflower Seeds
Feeding safflower seeds to birds is straightforward and similar to feeding other types of birdseed. These seeds are versatile and can be presented in various types of bird feeders. They’re especially beneficial because they are generally less attractive to squirrels and some larger birds, like grackles and starlings, that can dominate feeders.
Here are a few steps and tips on how to feed safflower seeds:
- Select the Right Feeder: Safflower seeds can be placed in tube feeders, hopper feeders, platform feeders or tray feeders. Tube feeders with larger feeding ports are ideal, as the safflower seeds are quite large.
- Location: As with other bird feeders, place your feeder in a quiet and safe location. It should be out of reach of predators and have nearby trees or shrubs where birds can take cover if threatened.
- Mix with Other Seeds (Optional): If you are introducing safflower seeds for the first time, it may be beneficial to mix them with a seed that your backyard birds are already used to, such as sunflower seeds. Gradually increase the proportion of safflower seeds in the bird seed mix as the birds start to accept them.
- Keep the Feeder Clean: Clean your feeders regularly to prevent mold and diseases. Birds are more likely to visit clean feeders.
- Regular Supply: Ensure a regular supply of seeds. If the feeder is empty for extended periods, birds may find other food sources and not return.
How to make your own safflower seed cylinders
Making your own safflower seed cylinders is a fun and practical DIY project. It’s a great way to keep birds fed and it can also help to reduce the mess and waste associated with loose seed.
Here are the steps to make your own safflower seed cylinders:
- Gather Materials: You’ll need safflower seeds, unflavored gelatin, a non-stick mold or a tube (like a clean milk carton or a PVC pipe), and some string or twine.
- Prepare the Gelatin: Following the instructions on the package, mix the gelatin with water. You’ll need enough to evenly coat the seeds, but not so much that the mixture becomes runny. One packet of gelatin usually works well with about 1-2 cups of seeds.
- Mix Seeds with Gelatin: Pour the safflower seeds into the gelatin mixture and stir until all the seeds are well-coated.
- Fill the Mold: If you want to hang your seed cylinder, first place a length of string or twine into your mold so that one end is at the bottom and there’s plenty of line out of the top to hang it later. Then pour your seed mixture into the mold, packing it in tightly.
- Let it Set: Place your filled mold in the refrigerator until the gelatin has completely set and hardened. This usually takes a few hours.
- Remove from the Mold: Once the mixture is set, you can remove it from the mold. If you used a non-stick mold, it should come out easily. If you used a tube, you might need to cut away the container.
- Hang your Seed Cylinder: Find a suitable location for your bird feeder where it’s visible but safe from predators. Hang your seed cylinder with the remaining string.
Safflower Seeds Vs Other Seeds
When it comes to feeding birds, there are a variety of seed options available, check our guide to the best seeds for birds. Safflower seeds are one of the most popular seed types, but how do they compare to other seeds? Let’s take a look:
Safflower Seeds vs Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a popular choice for feeding birds, especially black oil sunflower seeds, but safflower seeds have some advantages. Safflower bird seed have a hard shell that is difficult for squirrels to crack, making them a great option if you want to keep squirrels away from your bird feeder. Safflower seeds are not as attractive to house sparrows, which can be a nuisance at bird feeders. On the other hand, sunflower seed (both regular sunflower seeds and black oil) are higher in fat and calories, making them a great option for wild birds in the winter when they need extra energy.
Safflower Seeds vs Thistle
Thistle seeds, also known as nyjer, is a small black seed that is a favorite of finches. While thistle is a great option for finches, it can be expensive and may not be attractive to other bird species. Safflower seeds, on the other hand, are a more affordable option and are attractive to a wider range of bird species. Safflower seeds have a hard shell that is difficult for squirrels to crack, making them a great option if you want to keep squirrels away from your bird feeder.
Safflower Seeds vs Peanuts
Peanuts are another popular bird food, but they can be messy and attract unwanted pests like raccoons. Shelled peanuts are a cleaner option, but they can be expensive. Safflower seeds are a more affordable and cleaner option that is attractive to a wide range of bird species. Safflower seeds have a hard shell that is difficult for squirrels to crack, making them a great option if you want to keep squirrels away from your bird feeder.
Safflower Seeds vs Seed Mixes
Seed mixes are a popular option for feeding birds, but they can be expensive and may contain filler seeds that are not attractive to birds such as milo seeds. Safflower seeds are a more affordable option that is attractive to a wide range of bird species. Safflower seeds have a hard shell that is difficult for squirrels to crack, making them a great option if you want to keep squirrels away from your bird feeder. If you want to create your own seed mix, safflower seeds can be easily combined with other seed types like millet and striped sunflower. When you go to wild bird stores, they tend to have a better quality bird seed types, but its always worth checking the full ingredient list.