A Guide To Safflower Seeds For Birds

safflower seeds

Are you looking for a healthy seed to feed the birds in your yard that won’t attract hungry squirrels and bully-birds like grackles? Safflower seeds may be just the feed you’ve been looking for. 

Read on to learn why this seed has become such a popular choice for backyard bird feeders across the United States. In this article, I’ll cover 

  • What are safflower seeds?
  • What birds like safflower seeds?
  • Do squirrels eat safflower seeds?
  • My picks for Safflower seeds

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A Guide To Safflower Seeds For Birds

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What Are Safflower Seeds?

The safflower seed is a shiny white seed that’s similar in shape to the sunflower seed and about ¼ inch long. 

Safflower seeds are the seeds of the safflower plant (Carthamus tinctorius). The safflower plant is a 1-5ft tall, thistle-like plant from the daisy family. The safflower plant is an annual, which means it lives for less than one year.  

These plants are believed to be native to southern Asia but have been cultivated all over the world. Safflower is one of the oldest cultivated plants of all and has been grown for its food and medicinal uses for over 4000 years. In modern times, these plants are grown in many parts of the world, including the United States, Kazakhstan, Mexico, India, and Turkey.

Safflower Seed Nutritional Value

Safflower seeds have a similar calorie count to sunflower seeds but are lower in fat and protein, and higher in carbohydrates. Check out the nutritional values of safflower seeds listed below.

These figures apply to 100g of dried safflower seed kernels:

  • Calories: 517
  • Total fat: 38g
  • Sodium: 3mg
  • Total carbohydrates: 34g
  • Protein:16g

Safflower seeds also contain Vitamins A, B6, and folate and important minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, and zinc. 

What Birds Eat Safflower Seeds?

safflower bird seeds

Many of the smaller seed-eating birds will feed on safflower seeds. These birds in particular love safflower seeds:

  • Cardinals
  • Finches

Cardinals are wonderful birds to have around, but they aren’t the only birds that feed on safflower seeds. I’ve also seen reports of all the birds listed below feeding on them.

  • Titmice
  • Doves
  • Blue jays
  • Pigeons
  • Chickadees
  • Grosbeaks
  • Juncos

It may interest you to know that there are some birds that don’t seem to like safflower seeds. These include:

Safflower Seeds For Birds

Safflower seeds aren’t usually available from the local supermarket but you may be able to get some from bird feeding stores and larger pet stores. I’ve had a look at a few products that are available online for delivery to your door to save you some time:

Cole’s SA20 Safflower Bird Seed, 20-Pound

safflower seeds for birds

Cole’s produces high-quality safflower seed that’s free from any added chemicals or flavors. Cole’s is a family-run company that started from humble beginnings. This 20lbs bag will last you well and save you a little money.


  • Buying in bulk is better value


  • Cole’s appear to be struggling to keep up with demand due to the difficult times the pandemic has brought. It’s understandable. 

Kaytee Safflower Seed, 5-Pound Bag

what birds like safflower seeds

Kaytee is an American company operating out of Chilton, Wisconsin. Their safflower seed has a  high oil content and they seem to be keeping their customers happy, earning them great reviews. 


  • 5lbs is a good size bag for introducing a new feed in your yard 


  • You may have to buy again soon once the birds start devouring these seeds
Kaytee Safflower Seed, 5-Pound Bag
  • Attracts Cardinals, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Grosbeaks, and More
  • High-oil content seed very desirable to songbirds
  • Bird-favorite safflower seeds are high in protein

Wagner’s 57075 Safflower Seed Wild Bird Food

do squirrels eat safflower seeds

Wagner’s is a well-known name in the world of bird feeds. This company has its headquarters in Jericho, New York. Wagner’s safflower seed comes in a handy resealable bag, to keep freshness in, and pests and moisture out. 


  • Resealable bag
  • Great reviews


  • You may have to buy again soon once the birds start devouring these seeds

No products found.

Do Squirrels Eat Safflower Seeds?

what is safflower seeds

The simple answer is yes, some squirrels will eat Safflower seeds. Some squirrels even seem to like them. BUT, generally speaking, these seeds are not eaten by squirrels and most of these animals tend to avoid eating safflower seeds. 

On its own, feeding safflower seeds might not keep squirrels away from your feeders but it’s a good place to start. Check out this article on how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders for more useful information and techniques. 

How To Store Safflower Seeds

Once you’ve bought your safflower seeds, it’s important to keep them fresh and safe from pests and mold. Follow these steps to store your safflower seeds safely:

  • Reseal the package if possible or store your seeds in a resealable container. Sealing the packaging will help to keep moisture and pests like moths out of your seeds. 
  • Store your seeds in a dry area. Wet seeds tend to mold up pretty quickly, and moldy seeds are not suitable for feeding birds.
  • Store your seeds in a cool place where they’re not exposed to sunlight.

How To Feed Safflower seeds

birds that eat safflower seeds

If the birds in your yard are used to finding a feeder full of sunflower seeds every morning, a complete switch over to safflower might be a bit of a shock to them, causing them to go look for the food they are used to getting elsewhere. 

I would suggest switching over gradually, say, over a period of a few weeks to be sure. Remember that in order to deter squirrels and bully birds like grackles and starlings effectively, a complete switch will be most effective, but make the change gradually if you find your favorite songbirds aren’t feeding on the saffron seeds right away.  

Any bird feeder that holds seed will work for feeding safflower seed, including platforms, birdhouse feeders, or hanging tube feeders. Don’t worry about the seeds that are dropped below your feeders because doves, quails, and chipmunks will clean that up for you. 

As always, make sure to use fresh seeds in your feeders. Keep your feeders full and keep them clean to make sure your birds stay well-fed and healthy. 

Final words

Safflower seeds are a great alternative to other seeds where squirrels and aggressive birds like starlings are a problem. These nutritious seeds are great for attracting cardinals and finches to your yard. 

Give these seeds a try, you may just be surprised at the results. Happy birdwatching!


Last update on 2023-09-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API