When you have a garden, one of the best things about it can be the abundance and variety of wild birds, and garden birds, which visit from time to time. You probably want ways of encouraging them to keep visiting, and one way of doing this is to provide them with bird food and seed mixes which they can enjoy. However, putting these out can bring with it a problem. That of other, more unwelcome, visitors, namely squirrels. How can you discourage this and prevent squirrels from stealing those sunflower seeds? Here are four ways of how not to stop squirrels eating your bird food
- Make them Jump!
The average squirrel can jump about 8 to 10 feet horizontally, so try to hang your feeder from a tree limb on a fishing line. They cannot climb down such a thin line so they must try to jump. The downside of this method is that if the squirrel ever does make the jump, the force is likely to break the line and your food might end up on the ground. Ultimately this ends up in a mess and does not work.
- Capsaicin – Go for the taste buds!
Capsaicin is what puts the heat in chilli peppers, and is found in their seeds. Squirrels are similar to humans in that their taste buds can detect hot pepper. Birds cannot. Use chilli seeds or flakes and mix a small amount with your birdseed, such as sunflower seeds. One taste and the squirrels will hopefully swear off your bird food forever! The chilli seeds will not harm the birds, as they do not digest them, but sadly the problem with this is that squirrels soon get used to it, so it is a short term solution.
- Use food that squirrels do not like!
To be honest, it is pretty hard to find a seed that a squirrel won't eat. In general, they are not keen on nyjer seed or thistle seed, so these could be a good option to try out. Sadly, though, if a squirrel is hungry enough, it will try anything!
- “Baffle” them from above and below!
If you have a feeder that is hanging from a pole or large hook, so that the squirrel can not jump onto it, the next step is to prevent them from climbing up the pole. Some people try to grease their pole with Vaseline. Another, less messy way, is to use a baffle. A baffle is a metal or plastic “hood” which sits either on top or underneath your feeder, making an over/under hang which the squirrels can not get around very easily, thus deterring them from reaching your bird food. Again a short lived solution as squirrels jump!
- The Solution - Use a Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder!
This is your best line of defence against squirrel food theft, purposely designed squirrel proof bird feeders. If you cannot keep the squirrel at a distance, get a feeder that won't let the squirrel eat! Simple! They are designed with little hatches next to the perches, which are closed if the weight of what it perched is more than a set weight. The basic premise of this works on the principle that because a squirrel weighs more than a bird, the feeder mechanism lets the birds perch and feed but closes the feeder hatch when a squirrel tries to sit on the perch. Probably one of the best, and most affordable, of these specialised feeders is The Roamwild Pest Off Bird Feeder, available from Homgar for only £24.99. It comes in a number of options, for different types of bird food, such as sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds, peanuts and even suet fat balls!