Which Birds Eat Safflower Seeds? (And Which Don’t)

Safflower seeds are a popular choice for bird enthusiasts aiming to attract various bird species to their backyards. These seeds are highly nutritious, containing ample amounts of fat and protein that birds like black-capped chickadees, northern cardinals, and mourning doves find particularly appealing. As more individuals discover the benefits of offering safflower seeds as a bird food option, the interest in understanding which birds prefer them grows.

In addition to the variety of birds that find safflower seeds appetizing, using this type of bird food can also help manage pests and unwanted bird species. Since certain birds and pesky critters like squirrels tend to avoid safflower seeds, providing them in your bird feeders can be a strategic choice. Furthermore, safflower seeds can be combined with other seed types or offered alone in appropriately designed bird feeders to maximize the attraction of specific avian species.

Key Takeaways:

  • Safflower seeds lure a range of birds, including chickadees, northern cardinals, and mourning doves, thanks to their high nutritional value.
  • Using safflower seeds can help deter unwanted bird species and pests like squirrels, ensuring a more peaceful birdwatching experience.
  • Introducing safflower seeds in various bird feeders can complement other seed types to attract a diverse array of avian species in your backyard.

Birds That Prefer Safflower Seeds

Safflower seeds are a popular choice for many bird enthusiasts, as they attract a variety of bird species. One of the main reasons these seeds stand out is not only the birds that enjoy them but also the ones that don’t, which can help maintain a balanced bird population in your backyard. Let’s explore some of the birds that have a preference for safflower seeds.

Cardinals are known to enjoy safflower seeds, and they are often spotted in the vicinity of feeders offering them. Similarly, sparrows, especially native sparrows, are attracted to safflower seeds and can be regular visitors when these seeds are available. Titmice, small and energetic birds, also find safflower seeds to be a great addition to their diet.

Chickadees, such as the black-capped chickadee, are abundant in North America, and safflower seeds are one of their favorite food sources. These seeds are rich in fat and protein, providing the necessary nutrients for these small birds to thrive.

Indigo buntings are another species that occasionally feed on safflower seeds. These bright blue birds with a sweet song are highly appealing and can bring a touch of color and music to any backyard. While safflower seeds might not be their primary food source, offering them in your feeder can still help draw in these beautiful birds.

Grosbeaks, such as the rose-breasted grosbeak and evening grosbeak, are known to sample safflower seeds in their diet. They are often spotted at feeders containing this seed type, making them an excellent addition to attract these colorful birds. Finches, though not all varieties, appreciate safflower seeds and are more likely to visit your feeders if you offer them.

Pine siskins and other finches like purple finches can also be attracted to safflower seeds. Pine siskins are small, streaked birds with a distinctive yellow flash on their wings. These birds have an affinity for thistle seeds, but they will also sample safflower seeds when they find them in backyard bird feeders.

Doves, including the mourning dove, are another bird species that find safflower seeds appealing. They might visit your yard more often if you provide them with these nutritious seeds. Nuthatches, such as the white-breasted nuthatch, are also fans of safflower seeds.

In addition to the birds listed above, other songbirds and even some woodpeckers like the downy woodpecker and red-bellied woodpecker might taste safflower seeds. By offering these seeds in your yard, you are likely to attract a diversity of birds that eat safflower seeds.

Read Next: What Birds Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Birds Not Attracted to Safflower Seed

While many birds enjoy safflower seeds, there are a few species that do not find them particularly appealing. With their thick shells and bitter taste, safflower seeds deter some birds from consuming them, making them a great choice to attract only specific bird species.

Surprisingly, Blue Jays, known for their diverse diet, are among the birds that do not frequently consume safflower seeds. They prefer foods such as sunflower seeds, nuts, and occasionally insects. However, since Blue Jays are opportunistic eaters, it isn’t impossible to find them sampling some safflower seeds in their search for food.

Starlings and Cowbirds also tend to avoid safflower seeds. These blackbirds are more inclined to eat grains, fruits, and insects. By providing safflower seeds in your bird feeder, you can actually discourage these particular birds from visiting your yard.

Crows are another bird species that may not find safflower seeds attractive. Although they are known to be adaptable and resourceful, crows prefer a diet of insects, small animals, and grains instead.

Pigeons and Robins also show little interest in consuming safflower seeds. Pigeons typically seek out smaller grains and seeds, while Robins primarily feast on insects and fruits.

It is important to note that these preferences may vary among individual birds, and some exceptions may occur. Nonetheless, offering safflower seeds in your bird feeder can help you attract the desired species while limiting less welcome visitors.

Remember, when using safflower seeds, it is crucial to maintain a clean and hygienic feeder to ensure the birds’ health and well-being. By doing so, you will create a pleasant environment that will attract a variety of songbirds to your yard.

Safflower Seed Advantages

  • Safflower seeds serve as a nutritious and attractive option for bird food in your garden. These seeds are popular among numerous bird species due to their high content of fat and protein, making them an excellent energy source for your feathered friends.
  • One of the most significant advantages of using safflower seeds in your bird feeders is that they offer a squirrel-proof solution. Squirrels are often deterred by the seeds’ slightly bitter taste, meaning that your bird feeders will become less inviting to these pesky rodents. This allows the birds in your garden to access and enjoy the safflower seeds without any competition or interruption.
  • There are various bird species that are known to eat safflower seeds, making them a versatile choice for bird enthusiasts. Birds that consume these seeds include Black-capped Chickadees, quails, juncos, cardinals, sparrows, and bluebirds. Introducing safflower seeds to your bird feeders can attract a diverse range of beautiful birds to your garden, creating a more lively and dynamic environment.

To further entice these birds, it’s wise to use different feeder styles and setups. Combining hanging feeders, platform feeders, and tube feeders with safflower seeds will invite various species to visit your garden and enjoy the nutritious snacks you’ve provided.

Dealing with Pests and Unwanted Birds

When it comes to bird feeding with safflower seeds, it’s essential to ensure that the food reaches the desired birds and not pests or unwanted birds, such as squirrels, chipmunks, bully birds, blackbirds, and grackles. To achieve this, consider adopting a few strategies to deter these nuisances from your bird feeders.

Choose the Right Feeder

Firstly, choose the right feeder types that prevent access to unwanted visitors. Tube feeders equipped with weight-based mechanisms can be an effective choice. These feeders allow only lighter songbirds, like the Northern cardinals and house finches, to access the seeds, shutting off the access for heavier blackbirds or squirrels.

Consider, too, that woodpeckers like the downy woodpecker, will also be attracted to safflower seeds. To make your feeder more selective, try using a bird feeder with smaller perch sizes or use specialty woodpecker feeders that cater explicitly to their feeding habits.

Use Barriers

Another technique is to safeguard your bird feeders against pests through physical barriers. Squirrel baffles or guards can work wonders in keeping squirrels and chipmunks at bay while allowing birds to enjoy the safflower seeds. Having baffles above and below the feeder will further enhance its protection.

Eliminate Certain Bird Foods

Moreover, eliminate foods that attract bully birds such as blackbirds, grackles, and starlings. Switching to safflower seeds from other popular bird foods is a solid move since these unwanted birds typically don’t like safflower seeds. Additionally, avoiding platform or open feeders will make it more difficult for these larger birds to land and eat.

Overall, a combination of these strategies will go a long way in helping you deal with pests and unwanted birds, while providing a safe and enjoyable environment for the birds you want to see at your feeders.

Different Types of Bird Feeders for Safflower Seeds

Safflower seeds are a popular food choice for various bird species. To attract these beautiful birds to your yard, it’s essential to choose the right bird feeder. There are several types of bird feeders available on the market, specifically designed for safflower seeds. Let’s take a look at some of the different options.

Tube Feeders

Tube feeders are a popular choice for feeding birds safflower seeds. They allow birds to cling onto the feeder, while the seeds are consumed through small feeding ports. These feeders can accommodate a dozen or more birds at a time, but it’s best to use smaller models when there are only a few birds. This ensures that the seed is used up fairly frequently, keeping it fresh for your feathered friends 1.

Platform Feeders

Platform feeders are great for ground-feeding birds that enjoy safflower seeds, such as mourning doves. These feeders have a flat surface that makes it easy for the birds to access the seeds. They can also accommodate multiple birds at a time, which is especially helpful during the colder months when birds are more likely to congregate together for warmth and food 2.

Hopper Feeders

Hopper feeders, also known as tray feeders, are another excellent choice for safflower seeds. These feeders have a larger capacity, allowing you to place a generous amount of seeds for several bird species to enjoy. Hopper feeders are particularly attractive to northern cardinals, as they can comfortably perch and eat from these feeders 3.

When selecting a bird feeder for safflower seeds, consider the types of birds you want to attract and the space you have available in your yard. Tube feeders are perfect for smaller spaces and encourage clinging birds, while platform and hopper feeders attract a wider range of ground-feeding and perching birds. By choosing the right bird feeder, you can enjoy the sight of numerous beautiful birds feasting on safflower seeds in your backyard.

Comparing Safflower Seeds with Sunflower Seeds

When it comes to feeding birds in your backyard, safflower seeds and sunflower seeds are popular choices for attracting various bird species. Both types of seeds provide nutritional benefits for birds, but there are some differences between the two that may influence your decision on which seed to include in your bird feeders.

Safflower seeds are slightly smaller than sunflower seeds and have a distinct white appearance. They are high in protein, fat, and fiber, making them an excellent food source for many types of birds. Some birds that enjoy safflower seeds include cardinals, finches, and grosbeaks. These seeds have a bitter taste, which helps to deter unwanted bird species such as starlings and blackbirds from consuming them.

On the other hand, sunflower seeds are an attractive food option for a wider range of birds, thanks to their larger size and diverse variations. Black oil sunflower seeds, for example, are known for their high-fat content and thinner shells, which make them easier for smaller birds to crack open. Birds that prefer sunflower seeds include chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches.

Protein and fat are essential nutrients for birds’ metabolism, growth, and overall health. Comparatively, sunflower seeds tend to have a higher protein and fat content than safflower seeds, although both are valuable sources of nutrition for various bird species. Choosing between safflower and sunflower seeds depends on the specific birds you want to attract to your backyard and your personal preferences.

In short, both safflower seeds and sunflower seeds offer important nutrients for backyard birds. While safflower seeds cater to a smaller selection of bird species, they are an effective choice for keeping unwanted birds from feasting on your feeders. On the other hand, sunflower seeds appeal to a broader range of bird species due to their slightly higher nutritional content and availability in multiple forms, such as the popular black oil sunflower seeds.

Growing and Harvesting Safflower Seed

Safflower, scientifically known as Carthamus tinctorius, is an annual plant that produces seeds that are increasingly popular in bird feeding. Originally from Mexico, this plant also thrives in countries like Turkey and is cultivated for its seeds and oil.

To grow safflower, first select a well-drained, sunny location in your garden. The soil should have a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Sow the seeds directly into the ground in spring, as they need a long growing season and warm temperatures for optimal growth. Space the seeds about 6 inches apart and cover them with a thin layer of soil.

As the plants grow, they may require some form of support if they reach heights greater than 3 feet. Be sure to provide adequate water, but avoid over-watering, as it can cause the roots to rot. Safflower plants are relatively low-maintenance, making them a great option for novice gardeners.

When it’s time for harvesting, you will notice the safflower’s petals fall off and the seed heads start to dry. At this stage, remove the seed heads from the plants and allow them to air-dry in a well-ventilated area for a few days. Once they are dry, break open the seed heads and collect the seeds.

Now that you have harvested your safflower seeds, they can be used to attract various bird species to your backyard. Birds like cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, and sparrows are known to enjoy safflower seeds. These seeds are rich in protein, fat, and essential nutrients, making them a nutritious treat for your feathered friends.

So there you have it! Growing and harvesting safflower seeds is a simple process that can help you provide a healthy and delicious snack for a variety of bird species.

Attracting Specific Birds with Safflower Seeds

Safflower seeds are a popular choice among bird enthusiasts in the United States for attracting a variety of bird species to their gardens. With their high fat and protein content, these seeds provide excellent nutrition for birds like northern cardinals, purple finches, and black-capped chickadees12.

One of the advantages of using safflower seeds is their ability to attract specific bird species while deterring others. For example, house sparrows, which can be an invasive and aggressive species, tend to avoid safflower seeds3. By offering safflower seeds at your bird feeders, you’re more likely to see colorful and desirable birds like the indigo bunting and northern cardinal.

To attract an even wider range of birds, consider mixing safflower seeds with black oil sunflower seeds. This combination will appeal to many finches, juncos, and buntings4. To make your bird feeder even more inviting, incorporate different feeders, such as tray and hopper feeders, which are favored by species like chickadees and finches5.

Buying and Storing Safflower Seed

When it comes to feeding the birds in your backyard, safflower seeds are a fantastic choice for attracting a wide variety of species. For backyard birders looking to buy safflower seeds, there are several options to consider, including purchasing in bulk or smaller quantities.

Purchasing safflower seeds in bulk can be a cost-effective option for bird lovers who want to attract numerous birds to their yard. You can find bulk safflower seeds at wild bird stores, pet stores, and even some local gardening centers. Buying in bulk can save you money in the long run and ensure you always have enough seeds on hand to keep your feathered friends satisfied.

When selecting your safflower seeds, it’s essential to be aware of the different seed types available. Some birds prefer whole safflower seeds, while others are more attracted to golden safflower seeds. Ensure you choose the right seed type for the particular bird species you want to attract to your backyard.

Once you’ve purchased your safflower seeds, proper storage is crucial to maintain their quality and freshness. To extend their shelf life and prevent spoilage, it’s best to keep the seeds in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Additionally, you can store the seeds in airtight containers or resealable bags to retain their natural oils and nutrients, ensuring they remain an appealing food source for birds.

Species Specific Feeding Habits

Safflower seeds are a popular food for various bird species due to their high nutritional value, including fats and proteins. Among the many birds that consume safflower seeds are tufted titmice and red-bellied woodpeckers. Tufted titmice appreciate the seeds for their high-energy content, as they require a lot of energy for their active lifestyles. Red-bellied woodpeckers, on the other hand, enjoy the seeds because they are easy to crack and appealing to their taste buds.

The black-capped chickadee and the Carolina chickadee both enjoy safflower seeds as a part of their diet. These small birds benefit from the energy-packed seeds to fuel their energetic activities, such as hopping from branch to branch and socializing in flocks. Downy woodpeckers and evening grosbeaks are no different, as they often feed on safflower seeds to pack on energy for their daily activities.

It’s worth noting that not all birds are fond of safflower seeds. Their bitter taste can discourage certain species from consuming them. However, this characteristic also makes safflower seeds a beneficial addition to birdseed mixes, as birds like northern cardinals and purple finches enjoy the seeds despite their taste, while pest birds like starlings and house sparrows avoid them.

Some larger bird species, like turkeys and quails, also consume safflower seeds occasionally. Although corn is a more prevalent food source for these birds, the nutritional benefits of the seeds make them a welcome addition to their diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do sparrows consume safflower seeds?

Sparrows prefer other types of seeds rather than safflower seeds, such as canary seeds. This seed is especially popular among House Sparrows and cowbirds, which some people might not want to attract to their yards source.

Are safflower seeds suitable for parrots?

While safflower seeds are not harmful to parrots, they might not be the top choice of seed for these birds. Parrots typically enjoy a varied diet, including seeds, fruits, and vegetables. It’s essential to provide them with a balanced diet appropriate for their species.

Do mourning doves enjoy safflower seeds?

Yes, mourning doves are among the bird species that regularly feed on safflower seeds source. However, they also enjoy other types of seeds like millet and sunflower seeds.

Can woodpeckers eat safflower seeds?

Woodpeckers, such as downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, can eat safflower seeds and are known to be attracted to them source. However, woodpeckers are mostly insect eaters and will also benefit from offerings such as suet cakes.

Do blue jays and cardinals like safflower seeds?

Blue jays and cardinals are among the bird species that enjoy eating safflower seeds source. They are attracted to these seeds’ high protein and fat content and can be brought to your yard by offering safflower seeds in your bird feeder.

Should I offer safflower or sunflower seeds to birds?

Both safflower and sunflower seeds are good options to offer birds, as they provide essential nutrients required by various bird species. Safflower seeds are slightly smaller than sunflower seeds and come with a hard, white shell and a slightly bitter flavor source. Sunflower seeds are more versatile, with black-oil sunflower seeds being the most popular choice. Your decision will depend on which bird species you want to attract, as different birds have different seed preferences.


  1. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/how-to-choose-the-right-kind-of-bird-feeder/ 2
  2. https://www.thespruce.com/safflower-seeds-385835 2
  3. https://www.wildaboutbirds.com/read/attracting-birds/choosing-the-right-bird-food 2
  4. https://www.birdsandblooms.com/birding/attracting-birds/feeding-birds/three-seed-types-birds-love-best/
  5. https://www.wildaboutbirds.com/read/attracting-birds/choosing-the-right-bird-food

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