Safflower Seeds For Birds – Complete Bird Feeder Guide

Want to know more about safflower seeds for birds in your backyard?

Then you’re in the right place.

Learning more about offering safflower seeds will help you attract a better range of birds. Plus you’ll be better prepared for problems you may run into offering up safflower in your feeders.

This guide will help to answer all the questions you have about safflower before your fill your bird feeders.

Then you can decide whether safflower is a good choice for your bird feeders or not.

Let’s get started, will we?

What is safflower seed?

Ok, I’m not going to bore you with a botany lesson on the origins of safflower seeds.

So let’s go with the basics.

Safflower seeds are collected, funnily enough, from the safflower plant (Carthamus Tinctorius).

Safflower plants always remind me of Animal from the muppets. Bright round and shaggy.

These plants are native to Asia. But it’s grown all over the world where the climate is hot and dry.

Half of the safflower in the USA is grown in California. But North Dakota and Montana grow a good amount of safflower too.

The actual seeds are small, white, and teardrop-shaped.

Safflower seeds have a thick outer layer known as a hull or shell. Your backyard birds will break this off before they get to the meat inside, which is the bit they eat.

Do Birds like Safflower seed?

I’m going to be honest and tell you that safflower isn’t really a favorite birdseed.

But wait, that doesn’t mean they won’t eat it.

Many birds aren’t familiar with safflower seeds, so your birds may need some time to accept them.

Once they learn to eat the seed, you’ll find that a variety of birds like safflower seeds.

But not only that.

The cool thing is that safflower seeds are full of nutrients for your backyard birds. These tiny seeds are full of fats, protein, and fiber which will keep your backyard birds healthy and thriving.

Birds That Eat Safflower Seeds

Once you start offering up Safflower seed at your feeders you’ll begin to notice that it slowly attracts a wide variety of birds.

This includes:

  • Cardinals
  • Tits
  • Nuthatches
  • Woodpeckers
  • Blue Jays
  • Chickadees
  • Titmice

This is just a handful of birds you may attract with Safflower seed in your feeders.

Really it all depends on their willingness to start eating the safflower. Plus is you’re offering a seed they prefer then the safflower may get ignored.

I’ve found that the birds that love sunflower seeds tend to take to safflower well.

Will Goldfinches eat safflower seeds?

Goldfinches will eat safflower seeds but it can really be hit and miss with them.

Goldfinch are kind of lazy feeders and tend to like seeds that are easy to eat such as pre-hulled seed.

I suggest using a safflower seed brand with softer hulls to have more success attracting goldfinch.

Another thing is that Safflower has a slightly bitter taste to it, which goldfinches may not like.

Safflower won’t attract goldfinches to your feeders. But, other finch species such as the house finch seem to like safflower seeds.

What birds will not eat Safflower seeds?

The biggest benefit of using safflower seed in your feeder is the birds that it doesn’t attract.

If you’ve been feeding birds in your yard, you’ll know by now that there are a few species that bully the little birds.

The main culprits are starlings, grackles, blackbirds, and house sparrows.

The great news?

None of these birds like safflower seeds.

That means that these birds will avoid your feeders when you offer safflower seeds.

Just think of the pleasure of watching your feeder as your songbirds eat in peace.

Do squirrels eat safflower seeds?

Ok, now I want you to be sitting for this one.

Squirrels don’t like Safflowers seeds!

Yes, you read that right.

Finally! Food you can offer in your feeders that won’t have the squirrels raiding them within minutes.

If you don’t believe me you can read the reviews of people who use safflower in their feeder. You’ll see that once it’s offered, squirrels are nowhere to be seen.

Boom. Squirrel Problem solved.

Still getting squirrels eating at your feeders once you offer safflower? Consider if there is another food mixed in that they are after.

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Safflower vs sunflower seeds for birds

If you’re trying to compare the types of seeds to offer, you’ll end up weighing up these two seeds.

Safflower and black oil sunflower seeds are very similar in terms of nutrients for birds.

The difference is that sunflower seed shells are usually a lot easier for birds to break.

Although birds will leave behind the shell of both seeds, the sunflower seeds make much more of a mess in your yard.

What are the best safflower seed Brands?

You’ll find that most of the big bird seed brand names will have their own safflower seed range.

This includes:

The bestselling brand on Amazon appears to be this Wagners safflower seed.

Most brands will sell regular white safflower seeds. But, you may notice that some brands offer a golden safflower seed range.

Is Golden Safflower Seed better for birds?

One of the best ways I got around a lot of safflower seed waste was to use golden safflower seed.

What’s the difference?

Well, golden safflower seed is grown to have a softer hull than the regular variety.

That means it’s easier for more bird species to get into, but still hard enough to deter the bully birds from eating it.

Golden safflower seed is more nutrient-dense than white safflower seed.

3 problems with Safflower Seeds

Ok, so safflower seeds are great for deterring bully birds.

But you’ll notice that there are a few issues that come along with offering safflower at your feeders.

This includes:

1. Birds being fussy

2. Birds throwing the hull

3. Expensive compared to other seed

Let’s look at ways around these issues.

How to Feed Safflower Seeds

There are two ways you can offer safflower seed in your feeders:

1. In a mix

When you first offer safflower seed at our feeders I suggest mixing it in with other birdseed.

It’s likely your birds will take to the safflower better this way.

First, they will eat all the seed they know and like, then they’ll move on to the safflower.

The more you offer safflower this way the better your birds will adapt to you offering it more.

You can buy premade mixes with safflower seeds. You might want to go for a mix aimed at cardinals, this is a great one.

Or you can make your own mix to up the ratio of safflower as more birds eat it.

I find my most successful bird mix is black oil sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, and safflower seeds.

2. On its own

The thing with offering safflower seed on its own is that birds ignore it.

Remember it’s best to try and build up a bird’s preference for the seeds by mixing them in.

Offering safflower seed on its own is usually only successful once you’re done this step first.

You may also want to offer only safflower seeds if you’re having problems with pests like starlings, blackbirds, or squirrels.

Before you use safflower seed on its own, consider using golden safflower seed. You’ll find that the softer shells are attractive to a greater variety of small birds.

Best bird feeder for safflower seeds

Safflower seeds attract birds that like the challenge of cracking open a seed shell.

These type of bird’s usually like to feed on a tray and hopper-style feeder.

Personally, I’d opt for the hopper-style feeder, one like this is ideal.


Well, these usually come with a type of roof that keeps down the shell mess on the ground.

The usual bully bird issues with these feeders won’t happen, as they won’t want to be near the safflower seed.

If you don’t want to buy a new feeder, don’t worry.

You can offer up safflower seeds in any feeder that is suitable for sunflower seeds.

Just be aware that you might not attract as big a variety of birds this way.

Where to Buy Safflower Seeds

Safflower seed is expensive when compared to other bird seeds lb for lb.

And because it’s not a common birdseed you’ll struggle to pick up a bag of pure safflower seed in your regular grocery store.

Your best bet is to use a local pet store as this might keep the cost down for you.

If using a local retailer isn’t convenient for you then you can easily source safflower seed online.

You’ll get the big bird seed brands on Amazon.

Online bird specialty retailers may also have great deals at times, so you can check them out too.

Final thoughts

Safflower seed is a great food to start offering in your bird feeders.

Yes, it does cost a little bit more and may take a while to teach you birds to enjoy.

But the benefits are worth it.

Enjoy your songbirds feeding away without the starling, house sparrow, grackle, or blackbird attacks.

And don’t forget thwarting those pesky squirrels too.

Let me know if what your thoughts on using safflower seed in your feeders in the comments below.

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