(Joan Casanova) For bird lovers, the sight of a bushy tail hanging off the side of a feeder means one thing: war. Love them or loathe them, most birders agree they don’t want squirrels in birdfeeders where they can devour seed meant for birds.
Squirrels have to eat, too, and no one wants to harm the persistent critters. However, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with squirrels scarfing down seed set out for birds, damaging feeders and bumping up your blood pressure. It’s possible to discourage squirrels – and even outsmart them – with the right seed mix and some nature-friendly squirrel-control tactics.
Because squirrels love birdseed as much as birds do, both groups routinely battle for rights to the birdfeeder. It’s not an equal fight – most squirrels are bigger than the average bird, so chances are they’re going to devour the seed.
Squirrels are one of the biggest problems for people who feed birds. They can eat large amounts of seed, destroy birdfeeders and chase birds away. When squirrels claim your feeder as their territory, it’s hard to get rid of them.
While they can be relentless in their perpetual pursuit of birdseed and don’t like to share, you don’t want to hurt them, just set them on the straight and narrow. One of the most effective tactics to keep squirrels out of birdfeeders is taste aversion – serving seed that birds find delicious, but squirrels consider downright distasteful. Simply put, if the seed you serve tastes terrible to squirrels, they’ll seek sustenance elsewhere.
Put pesky squirrels on notice your birdfeeders are meant to be bird-exclusive by stocking them with products infused with fiery hot habanero chili peppers, like Cole’s “Hot Meats” that appeals to birds with top-quality sunflower meats and spicy taste but turns squirrels away with hot chili-pepper oil. Or offer “Blazing Hot Blend,” which combines the same habanero chili oil formula with preferred seeds to attract a maximum variety of songbirds. Birds find the spicy taste delectable but squirrels detest it.
Studies show mammals, including squirrels, have receptors on the tongue and mouth that react to chili peppers by sending heat signals to the brain. Although there’s no actual harm, the sensation makes it seem like the mouth is on fire. Birds lack receptors that make chewing chili peppers such an eyewatering experience for mammals and they love the spicy flavor.
Another easy option is Cole’s “Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce,” a nutritional birdseed “hot sauce” that contains all-natural, 100% food grade ingredients with a hot and spicy flavor. It’s a safe, effective and humane way to feed birds and thwart squirrels. Remember, your feathered friends can’t taste the heat, but squirrels sure can. Add this chili pepper formula to any birdseed to reduce squirrel visits at the birdfeeder.
If you have a soft spot for those fluffy-tailed felons as amusing additions to your backyard, try diversion feeding, an effective tactic to lure squirrels away from the birdfeeder by providing them with their own food source. Set up a squirrel feeding station away from birdfeeders and make it easy for squirrels to access their own platform feeder filled with favored temptations. This can satisfy squirrels and allow for a “birds only” oasis at the birdfeeder.
Try “Critter Munchies,” a blend of whole yellow corn, striped sunflower, peanuts in the shell, black oil sunflower and raw peanuts.
If you’re among the bird lovers who have tried countless devices and gimmicks over the years to thwart seed-stealing squirrels, using taste aversion and diversion feeding tactics can help you win the age-old war at your backyard birdfeeders. For more information, visit coleswildbird.com.
Photos courtesy of Cole’s Wild Bird Products