Safflower seed is a high energy oilseed, that is high in protein, fat and oil, making it a valuable source of nutrition for wild birds, that is known by bird lover's as the cardinals favourite seed of choice. Safflower is similar in nutrition to sunflower seed, with high folate levels and Vitamin E, but higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates.
Safflower seed is one of the oldest farmed oilseed crops, that is also highly digestible and belongs to the thistle family. Safflower seeds are often included in high quality wild bird foods, but not cheap mass market supermarket bird food varieties as the seed is relatively expensive.
Safflower is not only enjoyed by wild birds, but cage and aviary birds too, for instance the nutritious seed is popular with Small, Medium and Large Parrots,Cockatoos, Macaws as well as Parakeets, Lovebirds, Cockatiels and Conures.
Safflower seed is an excellent alternative to black sunflower seed and sunflower hearts if you have problems with squirrels eating your wild bird food, as they don't like the bitter taste of the seed. Starlings also don't like the taste of the seed, so it's ideal if you want to attract other bird varieties into your garden, not just hungry starlings that can deter other birds feeding!
Safflower seeds are generally fed to birds as a dry seed, but they can be soaked overnight and then left to sprout. After the seeds have sprouted the nutrient value of the seeds will have increased many times more. Palatability of the safflower seeds is improved when soaked and are particularly useful to birds that are raising young, as the sprouted seeds are much easier to digest by young offspring.
Please note that safflower seeds have a hard outer shell, unless you choose to soak them, that needs to be removed, consequently if you have been feeding sunflower hearts for instance, that have no shell and are easy to eat quickly, it may take a while for your birds to get use to them.
No specialist seed feeder is required for safflower, so you can use any tubular bird feeder you may have as the seeds are slightly smaller than black oil sunflower seeds, but similar in shape with a tapered end.
You can always mix the seed with your favourite wild bird food or straight seeds such as sunflower hearts to encourage your birds to try the new food, then gradually increase the amount of seed as they become accustomed to the taste and then perhaps offer the seed by itself in a separate feeder.
Some customers have also told us to try mixing a high percentage of safflower with sunflower seeds or hearts for several weeks, then once the squirrels have lost interest in your feeders, gradually increase the proportion of other seeds to attract a wider selection of UK birds, which apparently fools some squirrels into thinking there's nothing tasty on offer in your garden, just the bitter taste of safflower.
Safflower Seed - Health Benefits
- High in protein, fat and oil
- No specialist feeder is required
- Helps boost the immune system
- Similar in size to black sunflower seeds
- Squirrels and Starlings don't like the bitter taste
- Safflower seed can be soaked to increase nutrient value
- Low in carbohydrate, but high in Vitamin E and folate levels