Will Squirrels Eat Safflower Seeds?

Squirrels Eat Safflower Seeds

Squirrels, those nimble and industrious rodents, have long captured our fascination with their acrobatics and resourcefulness.

A common query among those who delight in observing backyard wildlife is whether squirrels indulge in the consumption of safflower seeds.

Recognized for their nutritional benefits and favored by birds, safflower seeds present an intriguing subject in the realm of squirrel dining habits.

In this post, we aim to uncover the nuanced relationship between squirrels and safflower seeds, shedding light on the dynamics of their culinary preferences.

The Safflower Seed

Safflower seeds are extracted from the flowering plant Carthamus tinctorius and are highly valued in bird feed because they contain a high oil content, which gives visiting birds an important source of energy.

In addition to being highly nutritious, safflower seeds are also valued for their capacity to draw in particular bird species while keeping out unwanted visitors such as starlings and grackles.

This combination of qualities has led to their widespread use among backyard bird feeders.

Do Squirrels Eat Safflower Seeds?

Squirrels Eat Safflower Seeds

The question of whether squirrels partake in the safflower seed banquet elicits varied responses. Squirrels, opportunistic in their feeding habits, exhibit diverse taste preferences influenced by factors such as regional food availability and individual variations.

Reports suggest that safflower seeds may indeed find a place in a squirrel’s diet, particularly when other food sources are scarce.

Nevertheless, the consensus leans towards safflower seeds being less enticing to squirrels compared to more accessible options, such as sunflower seeds.

Why Safflower Seeds Might Deter Squirrels?

  1. Bitter Taste: The bitterness inherent in safflower seeds, attributed to compounds like tannins, may play a role in deterring squirrels. Birds appear to be largely indifferent to this taste, but squirrels, with their discerning palates, might find it less appealing.
  2. Thick Shell: Safflower seeds come encased in a robust shell, adding an extra layer of protection. Squirrels, equipped with sharp incisors, often favor easily accessible food sources. The challenge presented by the thick shell may act as a natural deterrent, steering them towards more manageable alternatives.
  3. Nutritional Value: While safflower seeds offer essential nutrients, squirrels are known to favor seeds with higher fat content. Sunflower seeds and peanuts, for example, are often preferred due to their elevated fat levels, providing a more energy-dense option for these energetic rodents.

Tips for Squirrel-Proofing Your Feeder

  • Use a Squirrel-Proof Feeder: Investing in a specially designed squirrel-resistant feeder equipped with features like weight-activated mechanisms can thwart the acrobatic endeavors of persistent squirrels.
  • Offer Squirrel-Friendly Alternatives: For those who enjoy the company of squirrels but wish to protect their bird feeders, providing a separate feeding station with nuts or seeds more to the squirrels’ liking can create a harmonious balance in the backyard ecosystem.
  • Hot Pepper Additive: Introducing a spicy element to the birdseed mix, such as hot pepper, can be an effective deterrent for squirrels. Birds are generally unaffected by the heat, while the spicy kick might dissuade squirrels from frequenting the feeder.


The story of backyard wildlife interactions is not complete without a discussion of the relationship between squirrels and safflower seeds.

Although squirrels may not consider safflower seeds to be their favorite food, the unpredictable nature of wildlife behavior means that one should always be prepared.

Whether one is a dedicated squirrel watcher or an avid bird watcher, understanding the nuances of these interactions enriches backyard experiences and promotes a peaceful coexistence between human observers and the colorful tapestry of nature.

As we continue to delve into the subtle interactions between nature and our carefully designed spaces, the delightful coexistence of birds, squirrels, and safflower seeds adds another level to the dynamic story of backyard ecosystems.

Here are some frequently asked questions related to safflower seeds, squirrels, and bird feeding:

Squirrels Eat Safflower Seeds
Squirrels Eat Safflower Seeds

1. Do squirrels eat safflower seeds?

While squirrels are generally less attracted to safflower seeds than birds, they may consume them if other food sources are scarce. Using squirrel-proof feeders or offering alternative squirrel-friendly food can help manage their presence.

2. Why do people use safflower seeds in bird feed?

Safflower seeds are popular in bird feed due to their high oil content, providing birds with a valuable energy source. They also have the advantage of attracting certain bird species while deterring less desirable ones.

3. Are safflower seeds bitter to squirrels?

Yes, safflower seeds have a bitter taste due to compounds like tannins. While birds are not bothered by this taste, it may deter squirrels from consuming them.

4. How do I squirrel-proof my bird feeder?

Invest in a squirrel-resistant feeder with features like weight-activated mechanisms. Placing the feeder away from surfaces squirrels can jump from and offering a separate feeder with nuts for squirrels are also effective strategies.

5. Can I feed squirrels without attracting them to bird feeders?

Yes, providing a separate feeding station with nuts or seeds that squirrels find appealing can help satisfy their appetite without drawing them to bird feeders.

6. What other seeds do squirrels prefer over safflower seeds?

Squirrels generally prefer seeds with higher fat content, such as sunflower seeds and peanuts. These options provide a more energy-dense food source for these active rodents.

7. Are safflower seeds nutritious for birds?

Yes, safflower seeds are nutritious for birds. They contain essential nutrients, including fats, which are crucial for their energy needs.

8. How do I keep birds safe from squirrels while feeding them?

Using squirrel-proof feeders, providing a variety of seed types that birds prefer, and placing feeders in strategic locations can help minimize squirrel interference.

9. Do safflower seeds attract specific bird species?

Yes, safflower seeds are known to attract certain desirable bird species, including cardinals, chickadees, and finches.

10. Can I use hot pepper to deter squirrels from bird feeders?

Yes, adding a spicy element like hot pepper to the birdseed mix can deter squirrels without affecting birds, as they are generally unaffected by the heat.