Safflower Seed: A Possible Squirrel Deterrent

Almost anyone with backyard bird feeders has had squirrel problems at one time or another. One hungry squirrel can clean

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 tricky little buggers – they seem to find their way around those. 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 (all the birds shown in these pictures are eating safflower from my feeders), and I save a lot of money by not needing to refill my feeders nearly as often. Here are some birds known to enjoy safflower seed:

  • Blue Jays
  • Chickadees
  • Grosbeaks
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Mourning Dove
  • Blue Jays
  • Chickadees
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Purple Finch
  • Yellow-Rumped Warbler
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker
These are just some of the birds who will eat safflower – there are certainly others. However, as an added benefit, “nuisance” 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? If you’ve had luck with safflower seed and squirrels, tell us about it in the comments below!

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.