You may have heard that safflower seeds are a great bird feed for attracting a variety of birds to your backyard. But what exactly are safflower seeds, and why should you start feeding them to your backyard birds?
Also worth considering, which animals don’t care for safflower seeds? This fact can be pretty exciting if you’re a bird lover who finds that the birds aren’t the only animals scooping the birdseed off of your feeders!
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- What is Safflower?
- What Birds Will Eat Safflower Seed?
- Nutrition in Safflower Seeds
- How to Start Feeding Safflower Seeds to Your Feathered Friends
- What Type of Bird Feeding Stations Are Best to Use With Safflower Seeds?
- Where Can You Purchase Safflower Seeds?
- Conclusion: All About Safflower Seeds: Which Birds Eat Them (and What Doesn’t Like them?)
What is Safflower?
Safflower is one of the oldest recorded crops. The plant is a thistle-like member of the sunflower family that is grown for its oil and birdseed. The safflower seed is small, about the size of a poppy seed, and has a hard shell.
The term “safflower” comes from two old French words: safran meaning “saffron,” and farine meaning “flour.” This is because the plant was used to produce a yellow dye similar to saffron, and the seeds were often ground into flour.
Safflower plants are easy to grow, and they can be found in nearly every state in the US. The plants are drought-resistant, so they don’t require much water, and they grow in a variety of soil types.
What Birds Will Eat Safflower Seed?
The flowers of the safflower plant are attractive to bees, and the seeds are a favorite food of many songbirds. In fact, safflower seed is one of the most popular birdseed ingredients.
Birds that typically enjoy safflower seeds include:
- mourning doves
- house sparrows
- blue jays
- downy woodpeckers
- evening grosbeaks
Nutrition in Safflower Seeds
Safflower seed is a great bird food because it is high in protein and fat, and it has a high oil content. The fatty acids in safflower seeds help birds to maintain their body temperature, and the seeds are also a good source of vitamin E.
The nutritional content of safflower includes:
- Protein: 18-20%
- Fat: 30-35%
- Fiber: 7-9%
- Carbohydrates: 32-38%
- Vitamin E: 1.5-2 mg/100 g
How to Start Feeding Safflower Seeds to Your Feathered Friends
Your backyard birds may not immediately take to only safflower seeds, so you might want to mix it in with your other seed at first until they get used to eating it.
Safflower seed can be fed to wild birds as well as pet birds. If you have a bird feeder, you can simply add safflower seeds to the mix. You can also sprinkle safflower seeds on the ground, or mix them with other birdseed to create a special blend.
Which animals don’t care for safflower seeds?
Although safflower seeds are a great bird feed that can be used to attract a variety of birds, there are some animals that don’t care for them.
Squirrels and blackbirds will not eat safflower seeds because of the bitter taste, but other birds will love them.
How to best incorporate safflower seeds into your bird feeding menu
If you want to start feeding safflower seeds to your backyard birds, there are a few things you should know. First, safflower seeds are not a good feed for ground-feeding birds, such as cardinals and blue jays.
Second, safflower seeds should not be the only type of seed that you offer your birds. A variety of seeds, such as sunflower seeds, millet, and canary seed, will provide a well-rounded diet for your backyard birds.
Finally, when you are incorporating safflower seeds into your bird feeding menu, it is important to start slowly. Introduce safflower seeds into your bird feeder mix gradually, over a period of a few weeks. This will help your birds get used to the new food and will minimize the chances of them getting sick from eating safflower seeds.
What Type of Bird Feeding Stations Are Best to Use With Safflower Seeds?
When you are using safflower seeds to attract birds to your backyard, it is important to use the right type of bird feeders. Safflower seeds are small, so they can easily be blown away by the wind.
To keep your safflower seed from blowing away, use a tube feeder, tray feeders, or a hopper feeder. These types of feeders will protect your seeds from the wind and keep them fresh. Any feeder that accommodates sunflower seeds will work with safflower seed.
The size of the bird feeding station can make a difference, too, as many birds that will eat safflower seeds are a larger species. If your platform feeder has a perching space it will accommodate those feathered friends.
And, you can choose to offer safflower seed cylinders as an option. These pre-made cylinders are simple to hang and a cleaner option.
When you’re getting the birds used to feeding on safflower, sprinkling some on the ground near shrubs and bushes may attract ground-feeding birds.
Where Can You Purchase Safflower Seeds?
Safflower seeds are available at many stores that sell birdseed, and they can also be ordered online. Your local grocery store or mall retailer may not carry them, though.
High-quality birdseed will most often include some safflower seed. When you are purchasing safflower seeds, be sure to buy them from a reputable source.
You could also grow safflowers and allow them to naturally go to seed. Safflowers grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. They are a drought-tolerant plant, so they don’t require a lot of water.
Online sources are plentiful. Here are some of the most highly-rated top sellers in safflower seed:
How to grow your own safflowers
To grow your own safflowers, start with seeds or seedlings. Sow the seeds in early spring, after the last frost. Plant the seeds ½ inch deep and 18 inches apart. Thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart when they are 4 inches tall.
Safflowers will bloom in late summer and early fall. The flowers are yellow, orange, or red and have a diameter of 2-3 inches. When the flowers start to fade, they will be replaced by seed heads.
To harvest the safflower seed, wait until the seed heads are dry and brown. Cut the head off the plant and remove the seeds by rubbing them between your hands. Store the seeds in an airtight container.
What birds or animals won’t eat safflower seeds?
Squirrels and blackbirds will not eat safflower seeds because of the bitter taste.
What type of bird feeder should I use for safflower seeds?
Tube feeders, tray feeders, and hopper feeders are all good choices for feeding safflower seeds to birds. These types of feeders will protect your seeds from the wind and keep them fresh. Any feeder that accommodates sunflower seeds will work with safflower seed.
Where can I purchase safflower seeds?
Safflower seeds are available at many stores that sell birdseed, and they can also be ordered online. When you are purchasing safflower seeds, be sure to buy them from a reputable source.
How do I get the birds used to eating safflower?
When you’re getting the birds used to feeding on safflower, sprinkling some on the ground near shrubs and bushes may attract ground-feeding birds. You could also try offering safflower seeds in a tube feeder, tray feeder, or hopper feeder. Any feeder that accommodates sunflower seeds will work with safflower seed.
Do squirrels dislike safflower seeds?
Yes, squirrels dislike the taste of safflower seeds because they are bitter. Blackbirds also have a hard time eating them. This is good news for birders who want to keep their backyard birds safe from these predators!
Conclusion: All About Safflower Seeds: Which Birds Eat Them (and What Doesn’t Like them?)
Safflower seed is a great bird feed that can be used to attract a variety of birds, as well as keep some unwanted snackers away. Most squirrels and blackbirds will not eat safflower seeds because of the bitter taste, but other birds will love them.
Be sure to introduce this food source slowly, mixing in with sunflower seed and other types of seed, then gradually switch over to safflower seed.
Grow your own safflowers if you’re so inclined and your environment is conducive for that, and let them naturally go to seed.