Your dog or cat may be excited by the appearance of squirrels stealing seed from your bird feeders, but most likely you are not amused.
During a recent conversation with a friend over coffee, she asked if we had access to Safflower seed. Not expecting a positive response, Melissa was pleasantly surprised to discover that we can order just about any animal-related product. I was pleasantly surprised to discover why she was asking.
Too many squirrels at the feeder
For the past few years, she had been using an inexpensive wild bird seed mixture in her backyard feeder. Over time, she grew tired of the mess it made as the small seed was picked out, dropped, and sprouted on the ground below.
She tried black oil sunflower seed, which was a great hit. Gradually, she came to realize that she was feeding almost as many squirrels as birds. Once she spotted a rat gorging on the scattered seed below the feeder, she knew something had to change.
She was tempted to take the feeder down and be done with it. There was no desire to encourage the presence of rodents in the yard. She much preferred the ambience created by the songbirds. But their numbers had begun to dwindle as the squirrel visitations grew.
A friend of hers suggested she try Safflower seed. And so, at the end of last summer, her feeder was filled with Safflower seed and has been ever since.
No more squirrels, not much waste
Since switching to Safflower seed, there have been no more squirrels or rats frequenting the feeder. Apparently, it is not the preferred choice for rodents. Larger, more aggressive birds like crows and jays, also prefer other seeds. Most of the small and medium wild bird species readily accept Safflower seeds.
Safflower seed can be used in just about any type of backyard feeder. It does not require a fancy or specialized device.
The seeds resemble an elongated, bleached kernel of unpopped popcorn and are slightly smaller than black oil sunflower seeds. They are high in protein, fat and fiber, which makes them an ideal seed for wild birds. There is also one other benefit to these seeds.
Less waste, more food
Similar to the “no-waste” seed mixes, using Safflower seed reduces the amount of seed which falls from your feeder and gets wasted. Birds will spend more time eating, and less time picking through and discarding smaller seeds. This will mean a cleaner feeding area for you, and less money wasted on fallen seed.
We’ve been use Nature’s Cafe Patio Mix in our feeder at Smiley Dog “headquarters”. While it is pricier than generic seed mixes, the reduction in waste (and cleanup) is striking. We’ll be giving Safflower seed a try shortly.
If you’ve been frustrated by squirrels at your feeder, you may have tried baffles or “squirrel-proof” designs. If you’re not satisfied with the result, consider giving Safflower seed a try. It may just be the low cost, simple solution to your backyard bird feeder challenge. Let us know how it works for you!