Tuesday, June 29, 2010

For the Birds – and NOT for Some

safflower seed Safflower is one of mankind’s oldest oilseed crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the 12th dynasty identified dyes made from safflower. Garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen.

Safflower oil is used in painting to replace linseed oil, particularly with white; it doesn’t have the yellow tint common to linseed oil. In textiles coloring, safflower's dried flowers are used as a natural dye.safflower

Safflower oil is flavorless, colorless, and nutritionally similar to sunflower oil. It is used as a cooking oil, in salad dressing, and for margarine  production – think YELLOW!

So WHY is there a photo of safflower birdseed at the top of this post?
seed_safflower Glad you asked, since this white, shiny conical safflower seed is popular in wild bird feeding – it’s good for wild birds since it has a  high fat, protein and oil content. Cardinals like it and so do others: chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, grosbeaks.
So, you might be thinking. Wild birds like safflower seed, and it’s nutritious for them, that’s nice.

WHAT’s important is what ALL birds DON’T like it 
Most nuisance birds – starlings, grackles – feeder hogs dislike its
finches in feeder 0908 (2) bitter taste and will (usually) avoid feeders with safflower seed. Most squirrels don't like it either. The operative word here is “most” because there will always be spoilers. But, unlike squirrels, chipmunks DO like safflower seeds, so if these ones are a problem, put a baffle on any feeders with safflower seed.

Wonder WHERE to find?
Not in those cheaper birdseed mixes you find in grocery stores, hardware stores or other retailers. Safflower seeds are found in quality wild birdseed mixes – ones that cost more. Last weekend, I bought a 7 lb bag at Tractor Supply for $7.

Does it WORK?
Yesterday, I put some in the tube feeder – not  a single starling or grackle perched on it as before when using cheaper mixes. Lots of sparrows and wrens came by to feed, even fighting for space. When using the cheaper mix, grackles and starlings emptied the feeder within hours (often less). Safflower seed is costly, but it’s also costly to replace  cheaper mixes often because of “feeder hogs".”

Today, I noticed that the safflower seed was on the ground and seems to have been shaken out of the feeder. Not sure if the feeder hogs were the culprits, but I’m going to watch from the kitchen window on Wed and find out.

Here’s a colorful  cardinal couple – also our state bird.
 IMGP7828 cardinalM lite 012009


Lois Evensen said...

Interesting to know about the different types of seeds. My birds get different types of bread. I do get a variety of birds - just need to get a camera set up where I can get pictures. I can see the feeders from the house, but only through screens on the french doors. Hmm. Lots of problems to solve but you've got me thinking about it again now.... :)

Very nice post.


Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Yes it is interesting and I learn something new every time I research information to post on the blog.

Lois, I know you do bake a lot of delicious bread, but feeding any leftovers to the birds may do them more harm than good. There's not enough nutritional value in the bread for them and their digestive tracts aren't equipped for it. Dry bread can swell inside a bird causing blockages. Just thought you might want to know.

Anvilcloud said...

This is really good to know B. We recently bought a cutesy little feeder, but it's open and not practical, which is okay because we were taken by the cuteness. But I'd like to feed the birds properly again someday and will try my shrinking-brain-best to remember this information.

Anonymous said...

WHAT!!!! Bread can harm birds???? Nusiance Birds???? Big black ugly starlings and grackles, and maybe even cow birds?????
Can we start force feeding them?????

HermitJim said...

Guess the birds around my house have tasted my bread before, cause they won't eat any if I put it out! Neither will the tree rats!

Gotta see if I can do something about the Jays eating holes in my tomatoes...!

Lois Evensen said...

I have to laugh. Yes, Grenville, we get lots of nuisance birds, but some pretty ones, too. Seriously, I've heard of "don't feed the wild life," too. If we had bears here, I wouldn't feed them. ;)

Amazingly, we have so many nests near the feeders that there has to be something positive. I do use lots of seeds and nutritious stuff, but no preservatives or additives in the breads. Perhaps that is it. :) Oh, and with all the flying critters around the pond, the birds get plenty of "meat" in their diet, too. The fish pond is completely self sufficient (no feeding at all) and they grow fat and sassy on the bugs that land on or in the water.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Lois - whoops thanks for the clarification in letting me know you also use seeds. And I should have told you we would accept extras of homemade bread...can you deliver the same day it's baked?

AC, yes we also have bought feeders based on their "cuteness" more than practicality...and those feeders are no longer being used, but sure looked good hanging in the store display.

Hey HJ maybe you can get the blue jays to eat the tree rats instead of your 'maters - problem solved!

Thanks all for stopping in and commenting.

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