Do Birds Eat Safflower And Sunflower Seeds? | Safflower Vs Sunflower Seeds For Birds

Yes, birds do eat sunflower and safflower seeds, and these are quite a favorite food of different species of birds. Both of these seeds are rich in protein and have nutritional values.

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

Safflower vs sunflower seeds- which one to place in the bird feeder? 

Well, choosing between sunflower and safflower seeds has always been a matter of conflict for many.

Birds like finches, nuthatches, chickadees, or grosbeaks love to relish sunflower seeds, but they don’t like safflower seeds since these consist of a white hard shell and taste slightly bitter. 

On the other hand, doves, northern cardinal, and some other species love to eat safflower seeds more than sunflower seeds. So, which one to sprinkle on your backyard to attract more birds? Find out below. 

Safflower Vs. Sunflower Seeds For Birds

Birds do have a sense of taste. If they are wasting too many seeds from the feeder, it’s clear they don’t like the taste. However, you can always try replacing sunflower with safflower seeds or vice-versa to understand which one is more liked. 

Sunflower Seeds

If you want food that is a favorite among birds but not too much for your pocket, sunflower seed is the answer. It comes in three varieties.

Striped Sunflower

Striped sunflower seeds are preferred by a number of birds. It is a black seed with white stripes on it. This type is slightly bigger and harder than the other sunflower seeds.

Hence, the shell is hard to crack, and thus smaller birds like sparrows and finches leave it alone. If you want cardinals, chickadees, or blue jays to be more frequent at your feeder, put striped sunflower seeds in it.

Black Oil Sunflower Seed

Every bird loves it. Humans do not consume it, and thus, it is available in the market at a very low price. These are smaller and thinner than striped sunflower seeds and contain higher oil quantities.

These black seeds are easy to break and access the meat. Hence, there is a very small list of birds who don’t like them.

Be it cardinals, woodpeckers, sparrows, nutcrackers, juncos, chickadees, etc.; almost everyone likes black oil sunflower seeds.

Hulled Sunflower

Every bird at your feeder is going to love it because hulled seeds have their shells already removed.

Thus, they are easier to eat, and possibly, you will run out of these seeds almost every day if not bought in a higher quantity. They are also popular with the name kernels and sunflower chips.

These are popular because birds should not eat the shell of the striped or black oil sunflower seed. Thus, hulled seeds are best to fill the feeders to save a bird from eating a shell.

They charge you extra for the shell removal, so these are expensive. Grackles, doves, cardinals, grosbeaks, juncos, finches, etc., love to eat hulled sunflower seeds.

Safflower Seeds

This plant belongs to the sunflower and thistle family. If you want to ward off certain birds who empty your feeders, waste a lot and create a mess, you need to put in safflower seeds.

The birds who eat sunflower seeds will develop a taste for it. The taste is slightly bitter that makes several birds go away, especially starlings and grackles who bully other birds.

If you put in safflower seeds, they will leave your feeder alone.

However, safflower seeds are popular among birds who find it easy to crack shells. It is similar to black oil sunflower seed, and if you don’t offer any other seed in your feeder, almost every bird will learn to consume it.

You can mix it up with sunflower seeds if you don’t want birds to abandon your feeder due to this bitter taste.

Related Read: Do Birds Eat Grass Seed? | How to keep birds off from Garden Grass

What Birds Like Safflower and Sunflower Seeds?

Birds take time to develop a taste for safflower seed, but once they do, you will find heavy traffic at your feeders. Placing them after mixing up with black oil sunflower seed is a good way to introduce birds to eat them.

The list is long for the birds that eat sunflower and safflower seeds.

  • House Finches
  • Mourning Doves
  • Black-headed Grosbeaks
  • Blue Jays
  • Rose-breasted grosbeaks
  • Indigo Buntings
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Carolina chickadees
  • Northern Cardinals
  • Tufted Titmice
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Evening Grosbeaks
  • Purple Finches
  • White-breasted nuthatches
  • Quail
  • Buntings
  • American goldfinches, etc.

The list contains both small and medium-sized wild birds who will crack the shell open and reach the meat of the seed.  

Related Read: Do pigeons eat sunflower seeds?

What Birds Will Not Eat Safflower and Sunflower Seeds?

Starlings and Grackles don’t like safflower seeds, but they do love sunflower seeds and empty your feeder after shooing away the little birds. But hopefully, they don’t like safflower seeds. 

Hence, putting in safflower will keep them away while the little birds can enjoy a meal. The same goes for squirrels as well. They are naughty creatures who will love to eat everything on your trays, but they also don’t like safflower.


If you live in a place where your backyard has good traffic of birds, using sunflower and safflower seeds can be a really good choice. These seeds are high in protein, fat and are good supplements for energy.

Several types of birds will enjoy them plus, if you keep only safflower seeds, you will be able to shoo away the bully birds. 

Related Read: How to keep birds off my porch? | Best ways to keep birds away.


How To Ward Off Starlings and Grackles?

The best thing you can do to keep them off is to put safflower seeds in the feeder. Another way is to change the feeder type. A cylindrical or tube feeder with a small entrance can be a good choice. 

How To Invite More Birds To My Feeder?

The main reason why birds don’t visit your feeder can be hygiene.

In the case of sunflower and safflower seeds, the birds crack them open and leave the shell there. You need to clean it almost every other day. Plus, if your seeds are rotten, the birds will abandon them.

You can also put in different combinations of seeds like millet, milo, nyjer seeds, etc., to attract more birds.

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