Safflower seed is harvested from the safflower plant (Carthamus tinctorius), which is an annual that resembles thistle and has beautiful orange flowers. The plant is grown not only for the seed but also for the oil content.
Safflower seeds are slightly smaller than sunflower seeds but have a similar oblong shape with one end somewhat rounded and the other end pointed. These seeds are white or ivory, and have sharper ridges down their length than sunflower seeds. They are high in fat, protein, and fiber, making safflower seed a nutritious addition to any bird feeding station.
- 38% fat
- 16% protein
- 34% carbohydrates
Birds which love safflower seeds
Birds with stronger bills that are familiar with black oil sunflower seed will also happily eat safflower seed, including:
- Blue jays
- House Sparrows
Other birds may also nibble at safflower, particularly if it is the only seed you offer. Some birds may break open the hulls immediately to get the seed meat, while others may cache safflower seeds just as they would store sunflower seeds.
Safflower seed can be a great alternative in backyard/balcony feeders, especially if your feeders are often overrun with bully birds. The more you understand about this seed, the more easily you can help your backyard birds adapt to new foods while minimising the seed lost to overly aggressive species or feeder pests.