Offer Safflower Seed at Bird Feeders to Deter Squirrels

Squirrels and bully birds may ignore safflower seed, but many beloved songbirds will still come to your feeders.

Almost anyone with backyard bird feeders has had squirrel problems at one time or another. One hungry squirrel can clean out a feeder faster than you can say “black oil sunflower seed,” and that drives bird-lovers crazy. There are plenty of feeders out there that claim to be squirrel-proof or, perhaps more honestly, “squirrel-resistant.” But squirrels are creative acrobats and they love sunflower seeds.

In my Florida yard, I’ve made the switch to safflower seed instead. It’s slightly more expensive, but the squirrels in my neighborhood are completely uninterested in it. Now, I can’t promise this will work for everyone. Apparently squirrels in some areas think safflower seed is quite delicious, but for me it’s been very effective. Plenty of birds still enjoy safflower, and I save a lot of money by not needing to refill my feeders nearly as often.

Birds that eat safflower seed

These are just some of the birds who will eat safflower. However, as an added benefit, bully birds like grackles and crows don’t seem to care much for safflower seed at all. Now remember, I’m not making any promises, but if you’ve tried other methods to keep squirrels from your feeders and had no luck, why not give a bag of safflower seed a try?

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.