Do Safflower Seeds Deter Squirrels?

Updated: Mar. 04, 2024

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

does safflower seed deter squirrels?Terryfic3D/Getty Images
Acrobatic squirrel raiding a bird feeder

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 to eat sunflower seeds. In my Florida yard, I’ve made the switch to safflower seed to deter squirrels. Safflower seed is slightly more expensive, but the squirrels in my neighborhood are completely uninterested in eating it.

Discover how to tell 5 types of squirrels apart.

Now, I can’t promise this solution 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 eating safflower seed, and I save a lot of money by not needing to refill my feeders nearly as often.

Psst—here’s what to feed squirrels (and how to peacefully co-exist).

Birds That Eat Safflower Seed

cardinal eating safflower seedChris Alcock/Shutterstock
Many birds such as cardinals eat safflower seed, but squirrels don’t like it
  • Blue Jay
  • Chickadees
  • Grosbeaks
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Mourning Dove
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Purple Finch
  • Yellow-Rumped Warbler
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker
These are just some of the common backyard birds that will eat safflower. However, as an added benefit, bully birds like grackles and starlings don’t seem to care much for safflower seed at all. Now remember, I’m not making any promises, but if you’ve already tried other methods to deter squirrels from your bird feeders and haven’t had any luck, why not give a bag of safflower seed a try?