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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Research Results on Safflower Seeds

A few weeks ago decided to buy a bag of Safflower seeds for the first time. It got me to thinking about what birds would eat them and if the dang squirrels would not like the bitter taste.


My results were that Northern Cardinals and Mourning Doves are the only two birds to eat these seeds. The Grey Squirrels wouldn't touch them! 


I also decided to pose these questions to the birders on Birds&Blooms Bird Watching forum. The results were a very mixed bag. These are the interesting results: 


Sorry for how weird the post looks. I copied and pasted to save time and don't how to correct this.)


Mark in TX shared: Squirrels!

I put my safflower out and close to a BOSS and mixed seed feeder.  BOSS was emptied first, mixed seed next.  Safflower was untouched for a couple of weeks - then a squirrel emptied it.  Never saw a single bird touch the trash. 

Note: BOSS is short for Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.

PAgrandma: None! I try to avoid buying anything that includes Safflower.  In my area, it's a waste.
I try to avoid buying anything that includes Safflower.  In my area, it's a was a waste.

Hiker_IL: Cardinals will along with squirrels. I have a suet that has a mixture of seeds in it and the cardinals pick it out. It's hanging right outside my kitchen window so I can see what they are eating.

Kathy in southern NJ: Our house finches and cardinals eat the safflower.  The finches empty a tube feeder in about a day and a half. The seeds that end up on the ground are then eaten by the wild turkeys that roam through the yard. (The turkeys also clean up the husks and the shells under the feeder.)  ONCE in a blue moon I see a nut hatch (white breasted) and a tit mouse take a seed but not very often as they have sunflower seeds and shelled nuts at their beckon and call. 

I wrote before but as I thought about your quest, I too have gray squirrels that won't eat it but for ONE who has a taste for the seed.

Also, the chipmonks fill their cheeks with the safflower...
narnian in IN: Here my cardinals and house finches like them....squirrels don't.


Catbirds also lives in IN: I have house finches, chickadees, cardinals, and sometimes
nuthatches eat it.... Squirrels here don't touch it...... weird huh?


Lovefinch in MI wrote: I bought some and the HOSP loved itAngry. I have been over-run by HOSP - they clean out my feeders the minute I fill them. I hoped they would hate safflower seeds and leave my feeders alone, no such luck.


birdingbloomer in AL: A few years ago,  I read a book about bird seeds, birds, and squirrels....here's how I did my experiment of putting out safflower seeds for the first time.

I removed all my other feeders...such as the BOSS feeder, peanuts, suet, & thistle that all my birds (and squirrels) were used to.
Then I put out ONLY the safflower seed feeder.  No birds came.  Squirrels checked it out the first day.  By the 2nd day the squirrels finished it all.Angry
That was the last time I bought safflower seeds!! LOL
bwatcher: I'm here in NE Iowa and the birds that eat my safflower are: cardinals, house finches. My mourning doves eat the whole seed, not just the inside like cardinals and housefinches do. They eat it sitting on the feeder or on the ground. I've seen red bre asted grosbeaks eat it, but they aren't here very often or for very long. They basically just pass through.
 The sparrows will eat safflower if they have nothing else, a few grackles will eat it if they can't get anything else. My squirrels don't bother my safflower feeders but if there is sunflower in with the safflower they'll flick out the safflower to get to the sunflower.
Kelley in IN: I put out safflower once. Nothing ate mine. Not even the squirrels and I have a lot of wild life in my back yard. :) 

Newsletterman: I agree with CatBirds -  Northern Cardinals,  Chicadees,  house finches,  and nuthatches.  The squirrels here do NOT touch them.  PTL!   NLM in SC Zn7

Pacman: Hi Jean, it is Pacy.  Read through the whole thread.  Safflower according to my commercial contact is a 2nd choice seed.  I know from experience that Doves like it.  I can put it in a feeder that doves do not come to and nothing touches the seed.  So I do spread it out for the doves that do come around and from that I get from them it is YUM-YUM time.My post pertains to Northeast Nebraska and West Central Minnesota.  In Minnesota I buy a spendy bird mix called Water's Mix.  It is $44 for 40 lbs. but it is worth it because everything gets consumed--no waste. It is everything you can think of in the mix but no safflower.

And from my birding friends on facebook: 

Caty in WI: The desirable birds eat it once they get used to it. Cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, house finches and rose breasted grosbeaks mainly. House sparrows will eat it but not if there is anything else in the area. Same with squirrels. Mine will eat it but only when they are desperate. It's the only seed I put out with free access. I only put BOS in squirrel proof feeders and peanuts in squirrel resistant areas.

Rob in TX: Cardinals love safflower, squirrels and HOSP not so much. It's expensive though.
(HOSP is short for House Sparrow.)

I saved the best reply on my Bird Watching thread for last: 

Ron/papa2mykids in SW MI: I find that safflower is one big marketing hype. When given the choice, birds will 99% of the time take BOSS of safflower.
It is over priced (Retail) Iknow, because I used to sell the stuff and know what wholesale prices are.
Now you know why it is marketed as a bird favorite food.
I know some people swear by it, and some birds will eat it if they must, but not by choice.
Oilers are very hi in oil and protein content and safflower doesn't meet that need.

I might also add this.................................and mentioned on one of my webpages ................. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, "Safflower is found  to be only moderately attractive to birds."

Many thanks to Ron and to my Safflower Seed Reporters! 
OK....I will not buy another bag of this seed. It is not worth the price.  Black Oil Sunflower is the boss! Forgive my pun. 
Now you have the low down.
Wishing All Peace,Health,Wealth, and Love!

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