What Birds Eat Safflower Seeds?

What Birds Eat Safflower Seeds?

Safflower seeds are a popular type of bird food that is especially loved by many wild birds. These small, white, and oil-rich seeds are a great source of energy and nutrients for birds, making them a staple in many backyard feeders and bird-friendly gardens.

Safflower seeds are harvested from the safflower plant, a thistle-like plant that is found in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. The seeds are commonly used in cooking and as a dietary supplement for humans, but they are also a favorite among many bird species.

In this guide, we will explore the nutritional benefits of safflower seeds for birds, the types of birds that enjoy them, and how to properly offer them to your feathered friends.

What Birds Eat Safflower Seeds?What Birds Eat Safflower Seeds?

Many different types of birds enjoy eating safflower seeds, including:

  • Cardinals
  • Blue jays
  • House finches
  • Grosbeaks
  • Titmice
  • Chickadees
  • Nuthatches
  • Sparrows
  • Doves
  • Woodpeckers

These birds are attracted to safflower seeds because they have a mild taste and are high in fat and protein, making them a nutritious food source for birds. Additionally, birds with larger beaks, such as cardinals and finches, find it easier to crack open the hard shells of safflower seeds compared to other types of seeds.

What Kind of Seed Is Safflower?

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is a highly versatile crop that is grown for its oil-rich seeds. It is an annual plant belonging to the Asteraceae family, which also includes sunflowers and daisies. Originally native to the Middle East and Central Asia, safflower is now cultivated in many countries around the world, including the United States, India, and Mexico.

Safflower seeds are small and oblong in shape, measuring about 4-5mm in length. They are dark brown or tan in color and have a smooth, glossy exterior. Each seed contains a tiny embryo and an abundant amount of oil, making it a valuable source of healthy oil for cooking and other purposes.

Safflower seeds are classified as an oilseed crop, which means they are primarily cultivated for their oil content. They contain about 32-45% oil, which is extracted using a cold-pressing method. The extracted oil is light in color and flavor and has a high smoke point, making it ideal for use in cooking, especially in high-temperature methods like frying and baking.

Apart from its oil content, safflower seeds are also rich in proteins, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of essential fatty acids such as linoleic and oleic acid, which are considered beneficial for heart health.

In addition to its use as an oilseed crop, safflower seeds have many other uses. They are used in the production of birdseed, livestock feed, and in the manufacturing of cosmetics, paints, and varnishes. Safflower petals are also used to make a natural dye that produces a yellow to orange color, which has been traditionally used in textiles and food coloring.

Can Humans Eat Safflower Seeds?

Yes, humans can eat safflower seeds. They can be eaten raw, roasted, or cooked and are often used as a garnish or added to salads, soups, and other dishes for a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. Safflower seeds are a good source of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and various vitamins and minerals. However, people with allergies to plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family may have a reaction to safflower seeds. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before adding new foods to your diet. 

Do Cardinals Eat Safflower Seeds?

Cardinals do eat safflower seeds, though it may not be their first or preferred choice. Safflower seeds have a thick, tough shell that is difficult for some birds to crack open, but cardinals have strong beaks that are able to easily open them. They are also high in fat and protein, making them a good source of energy for cardinals, especially during the winter months. However, some bird enthusiasts have observed that other birds, such as house sparrows, may not be able to open safflower seeds as easily, which can make it a good choice for discouraging them from bird feeders. Overall, safflower seeds can be a great addition to a feeder for attracting cardinals.

Do Goldfinches Eat Safflower Seeds?

Yes, goldfinches do eat safflower seeds. They are a popular choice among bird feeders because they are high in fat and protein and are a good source of energy for birds. Goldfinches in particular are known to enjoy safflower seeds, along with other small songbirds such as chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice. They have a slightly bitter taste that is not as appealing to squirrels or larger birds, making them a good option for feeding smaller songbirds.

SEE ALSO: What Do Bluebirds Eat?

Do Doves Eat Safflower Seeds?

Yes, doves are known to eat safflower seeds. They have a strong preference for small, round seeds and will readily feed on safflower if it is available. Safflower seeds have a high-fat content and provide doves with a good source of energy. They are also easy for doves to eat, as their beaks are well-suited for cracking open the shells. 

Safflower vs. Sunflower Seeds for Birdssaf 2

Safflower and sunflower seeds are both popular choices for feeding birds and while they may look similar, there are some key differences between the two. Here’s a breakdown of each type of seed and what birds they attract.

Safflower Seeds: 

Safflower seeds are small, white seeds that come from the safflower plant. They have a hard, thin shell and a high oil content. Safflower seeds are a favorite of many backyard birds, including cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, and finches. They are also less attractive to squirrels and other unwanted birds, making them a good choice for birders who want to discourage certain species.


  • Attracts a variety of backyard birds
  • Less attractive to squirrels and certain unwanted birds


  • More expensive than other types of birdseed
  • May not be readily available in all areas

Sunflower Seeds: 

Sunflower seeds come from the sunflower plant and are larger and more plump than safflower seeds. They have a black and white striped shell and a high oil content. Sunflower seeds are a favorite of many backyard birds, including woodpeckers, jays, and finches. They are also a popular choice for feeding birds in the winter when other sources of food may be scarce.


  • Attracts a variety of backyard birds, including woodpeckers and jays
  • More affordable and readily available than safflower seeds


  • Can be messy as birds may drop shells on the ground
  • May attract unwanted birds, such as grackles and starlings
  • May be difficult for smaller birds to crack open

What Birds Will Not Eat Safflower Seeds?

  • Starlings
  • House Sparrows
  • Grackles
  • Blackbirds
  • Common grackles
  • European Starlings
  • Pigeons
  • Crows

Where to Buy Safflower Seeds

There are numerous places where you can buy safflower seeds safely, including online retailers, local gardening stores, and larger home and garden retailers.

  • Online Retailers: Online retailers such as Amazon, Etsy, and various gardening websites offer a variety of safflower seed options. Make sure to read customer reviews before purchasing to ensure the quality and authenticity of the seeds.
  • Local Gardening Stores: Many local gardening stores carry safflower seeds, as they are a popular choice for birdseed. These stores often have knowledgeable staff who can offer advice on growing safflower and can help you choose the best seeds for your garden.
  • Home and Garden Retailers: Large home and garden retailers, such as Lowes and Home Depot, also carry safflower seeds in their gardening sections. Again, make sure to check the quality of the seeds and read reviews before purchasing.
  • Specialty Seed Companies: There are also specialty seed companies that focus specifically on providing high-quality, organic seeds for various plants, including safflower. These companies can often be found online or at local farmers’ markets.

What Does Safflower Do for Pigeons?saf

Safflower is a type of seed that can be offered as part of a balanced diet for pigeons. This seed is high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, making it a nutritious addition to a pigeon’s diet.

Some potential benefits of safflower for pigeons may include:

  1. Improved feather health: Safflower contains high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining healthy feathers. These fatty acids can help keep a pigeon’s feathers strong and shiny.
  2. Enhanced energy and stamina: Safflower is a good source of energy for pigeons, providing carbohydrates and healthy fats that can help sustain their activity levels.
  3. Supports immune system: Safflower contains antioxidants that can help boost a pigeon’s immune system and protect against illnesses and infections.
  4. Assists with digestion: Safflower is high in fiber, which can aid in digestion and keep a pigeon’s digestive system functioning properly.
  5. Encourages foraging behavior: Pigeons are natural foragers, and offering them safflower can help stimulate this behavior. This can keep them mentally and physically active, which is important for their overall well-being.

How Should Safflower Seeds Be Offered to Birds?

Some common ways to offer safflower seeds to birds include:

  • In a Tube Feeder: One of the most common ways to offer safflower seeds to birds is in a tube feeder. Simply fill the tube feeder with safflower seeds and hang it in a location where birds can easily access it. Tube feeders are great for attracting small and medium-sized birds like chickadees, finches, and cardinals.
  • In a Platform Feeder: Safflower seeds can also be offered in a platform feeder, which is a flat platform with a roof that birds can perch on while they eat. This is a good option for larger birds like jays and woodpeckers.
  • Mixed with Other Seeds: Safflower seeds can be mixed in with other types of bird seeds to create a custom blend. This is a good option if you have a variety of birds visiting your feeders, as it will attract a wider range of species.


Q. Can chickens eat safflower seeds?

A. Yes, chickens can eat safflower seeds in moderation.

Q. Are safflower seeds good for pigeons?

A. Yes, safflower seeds are a nutritious and popular food source for pigeons.

Q. What does a safflower look like?

A. A safflower is a tall, flowering plant with a thistle-like appearance. It has a straight, hollow stem with spiky green leaves growing along it.

Q. Can parrots eat safflower seeds?

A. Yes, parrots can eat safflower seeds.

Q. Do sparrows eat safflower seeds?

A. No, sparrows do not typically eat safflower seeds because the seeds are too large for their small beaks to crack open.

Q. Do squirrels eat safflower seeds?

A. Yes, squirrels are known to eat safflower seeds and can often be found raiding bird feeders or foraging for safflower seeds on the ground.

SEE ALSO: How To Get Bird Out of Chimney: Step-by-Step Guide


Safflower seeds are a nutritious and commonly consumed food source for a variety of bird species. They are especially popular among cardinals, jays, chickadees, and finches. Safflower seeds are a high source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, making them a well-rounded diet for birds. Some birds may be hesitant to try safflower seeds due to their tough outer shell, but once cracked open, they will provide the birds with essential nutrients. If you are planning on feeding birds safflower seeds, make sure to use a feeder specifically designed for these seeds and place them in a spot where birds frequent. Overall, safflower seeds are a valuable addition to a bird’s diet and can attract a diverse range of species to your backyard.

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