Bird Lovers Can Go Nuts for Squirrels Too

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

(ARA) - The battle begins every time a feeder goes up; homeowner versus squirrel, and it's usually the squirrel who wins.

For many outdoor wildlife lovers it seems nearly impossible to keep these cunning rapscallions from raiding their bird feeders. They've tried the squirrel-proof feeders which the relentless squirrels manage to tackle. Placing feeders out of squirrels' reach also seems like a logical solution, but it is much easier said than done.

Although victory over the squirrels may appear impossible, there is a way to feed your beloved birds without the disturbance caused by these crafty creatures. Ever heard the phrase, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"? It's the perfect solution to a pesky relationship with furry backyard foes, and one that will soon have homeowners putting squirrels into the category of outdoor pets.

Squirrels are hearty eaters, so why not offer them a feast all their own? Outdoor pet food producers such as Wild Delight make mixes specially designed for squirrels (such as Wild Delight Squirrel Food) that contain corn, sunflower seed, and whole peanuts -- things that squirrels love to munch. It is typically offered in a platform feeder or fed on the ground, but however the food is put out; the trick is to keep it away from bird feeders. When squirrels are offered their own food, they are much less likely to bother with your bird feeders.

Squirrels also love corn that is still on the cob. This "ear corn" can easily be affixed to a tree to keep squirrels on tree trunks and away from bird feeders. To prevent a mess, go with a premium brand like Wild Delight Corn On The Cob that has a low moisture content to help prevent molding.

Along with offering squirrels their own dining experience, bird watchers can also fill their feeders with seeds that squirrels are indifferent toward. Nyjer is great for all types of finches, but squirrels ignore it. Fill feeders with a product such as Nyjer Seed from Wild Delight, which has been sterilized to help prevent fallen seeds from germinating into weeds. Generic brands don't usually offer this protection.

Safflower seed, which cardinals and chickadees love, is another good choice to deter squirrels. It has a bitter taste that squirrels (as well as nuisance birds like grackles and starlings) will avoid.

Suet is another option. Lovable birds such as nuthatches and woodpeckers enjoy suet very much, but squirrels typically ignore it. Brands like Wild Delight even offer different kinds of suet flavors to attract different kinds of desirable birds.

If your squirrel conflict calls for drastic measures, capsaicin, the burning chemical in hot peppers, is effective at repelling squirrels from bird food. It has the same effect on them that it does on humans -- fiery mouth, watering eyes, etc. However, birds are virtually unresponsive to it. Whereas this method of warfare on squirrels has been successful, homeowners might want to think twice before deploying this, especially if they have small children and pets who could be irritated by it. Offering squirrels their own food and place to eat in the yard is safer and more convenient (plus, you don't have to wear gloves).

By offering squirrels a place all their own in the back yard, homeowners will be able to enjoy their feathered friends at the same time as they enjoy the antics of their furry new pals. Their acrobatics, playful nature and surprising tameness will have squirrels joining wild birds as outdoor pets that homeowners love.

Courtesy of ARAcontent