What’s The Difference?
The nutritional profiles of confection (striped) sunflower and oil sunflower are similar in the respect that both are VERY nutritious seeds packed with healthy compounds. The big difference between the two relates to fat (or oil content).
Black Oil Sunflower:
- Has been bred to have a thin shell and high oil content. The purpose of both characteristics is so that it lends itself to crushing to extract the oil. Plant breeders continue their tinkering to increase the percentages of the most healthful oils such as oleic oil.
- Very beneficial to songbirds.
- The kernels of stripe are much larger than those of oil meaning more total food for the bird. Stripe sunflower’s thicker shell tends to exclude smaller birds like finches and sparrows who have trouble accessing the kernel. Birds with large conical bills, chisel-billed woodpeckers, and arboreal birds have no problem. Therefore, designing a mix for large-billed birds makes stripes the seed of choice. Many other bird food companies do not do this, not because one type of sunflower is more nutritious, but because oil sunflower is CHEAPER.
The production of oil-type sunflower now dominates the markets as there is so much call for sunflower oil for food. The confection market is much smaller, producing for sunflower kernels and snack foods. Both types of sunflower are nutritious and attractive to seed eating birds. Understanding the differences from the bird’s point of view allows one to better attract particular species.