A SERVICE OF THE OUTDOOR WIRE DIGITAL NETWORK
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2018
I first tried safflower seeds in my feeders not to attract birds, but to repel them. Flocks of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds were draining my feeders of black oil sunflower seed and making it tough for other species to shoulder their way in for food. My local wild bird retailer recommended safflower, and it’s been a staple at my feeding station ever since.
Safflower seeds for birds come from the same plant seeds used produce safflower oil, a favorite of chefs. The white seeds are about the same size as black oil sunflower, and are similarly high in protein and fat. Most of the same species that feast on black oil sunflower will also take safflower: cardinals, grosbeaks, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and finches. You can offer safflower seeds in the same types of feeders used for sunflowers.
Grackles, European Starlings and some other blackbirds apparently find safflower seeds bitter and avoid them. If you have unwanted blackbirds, try safflower to see if you can encourage them to forage elsewhere. I’ve also had problems with squirrels and raccoons at my feeder, and these mammals don’t seem to like safflower seeds. In his book The Joy of Bird Feeding, author Jim Carpenter refers to safflower as “the problem solver” for this very reason. He observes, however, that chipmunks seem to like safflower seeds.
Some stores offer NutraSaff or golden safflower. Carpenter notes this new variety has 15 percent more oil, 25 percent more protein, and 30 percent more fat than regular safflower. It also has a thinner shell and is easier for birds to crack open. It’s more expensive than the regular variety, but it may not be as effective dissuading blackbirds and squirrels.
Experts note that it may take a while for your birds to accept safflower seeds. Safflowers may also be more expensive than black oil sunflower seeds. Purchase a small amount of safflower seeds and be patient as birds explore this new option. Once they get accustomed to it, it will enhance your feeding station’s popularity and help you ward off blackbirds and squirrels.
Article by Peter Stangel
You can the book The Joy of Bird Feeding at https://scottandnix.com/collections/holiday-suggestions/products/copy-of-american-birding-association-field-guide-to-birds-of-arizona-1