Safflower & NutraSaff Safflower Seed
A great alternative to squirrel proof bird feeders and squirrel baffles that will eliminate not only squirrels from your bird feeders but Grackles as well is to use Safflower seed. Safflower seed (Carthamus tinctorius) is an annual oil seed crop grown in the United States and Canada . It has a rather hard, white, outer hull. Safflower provides three principle products: oil, meal, and bird seed. As a bird seed product, Safflower seed is high in protein. It can be used in any type of a bird feeder such as: tube feeders for house finch, Chickadees, and nuthatches, elevated feeders for Blue Jays, Cardinals, and other Grosbeaks, and on ground feeders for doves. For many people who feed birds they have added Safflower seed to their backyard bird feeding program along with other feed products. It attracts a large variety of birds.
Squirrels will not eat Safflower seed, even if the feeder is hanging right out side their front door or placed on the ground. But caution! Do not mix other seeds with it or they will sift through the feeder picking out the other products. Use Safflower seed in feeders where you have a squirrel problem, or when there are no other alternatives to keep them off the bird feeder.
Safflower seed is also an excellent feed to use when Grackles are over-powering the bird feeder, driving off all the other birds. It is not a very desirable food for Grackles, and often they just ignore it. You can virtually eliminate Grackles from your bird feeders by using Safflower. Again, however, do not mix in other seeds such as black oil sunflower, or the Grackles will sweep through it picking out their favorites. Use it straight in any bird feeder. If you live in central or northern states, immature Grackles may attempt to feed on it prior to migrating south. But when they return the following year as adults they show little interest in it.
Although it is traditional Safflower that has the hard, white, outer hull, which has been used in the bird feeding industry for years, a new hybrid Safflower called NutraSaff has recently been introduced. NutraSaff Safflower seed was bred without the white hull. The inner hull is a golden brown, thinner, and the process increased the oil content by as much as 30%. This equates to a Safflower seed which is higher in protein making it more desirable to the birds. In fact research has shown birds prefer NutraSaff over traditional Safflower seed two to one. Yet the Nutra-Saff retains the qualities that squirrels and Grackles dislike.
In my yard I use all the techniques I have suggested. When possible I use squirrel baffles to keep the squirrels foraging on the ground and off the bird feeders. Where location is a problem, I use squirrel proof bird feeders to do the trick and provide sunflower hearts and black oil sunflower seed in those feeders to the birds. The squirrel proof feeders make it a challenge for the Grackles to get any feed from, yet are accessible to the Cardinals and others. The caged feeders are always filled with sunflower hearts as the finch, Chickadees and woodpeckers have me filling them daily. And the ground and platform feeders have a supply of Safflower seed, NutraSaff to be exact, for the Cardinals, doves, and all my other favorite birds. As for the Grackles? They simply cannot find much to eat so pose little problem. And the squirrels? We put some peanuts out for them. Otherwise, they do a fine job cleaning up any seed that the birds eject to the ground.
If you are replacing a product in your bird feeders with Safflower seed, you may experience squirrels and Grackles digging through it, looking for the bird seed they had previously enjoyed. It won’t take long before they abandon their attempts and leave the Safflower seed alone.
First year Grackles may tend to feed on the Safflower seed prior to their migrating south for the winter. However, when they return the following year as adults, they will have little to do with it.