Take back your bird feeder from the squirrels | March 13, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

- March 13, 2009

Take back your bird feeder from the squirrels

Most effective tactic is taste aversion

Frolicking in the trees, foraging for acorns on the ground, even begging for a peanut or two at your back deck--squirrels can be cute--until they stake their claim to your bird feeder.

Squirrels love birdseed as much as birds do, and both groups of backyard pets routinely battle for rights to the backyard feeder. It's not an equal fight--most squirrels are bigger than the average bird, so chances are they're going to devour all the seed.

Squirrels are the number one problem for people who like to feed the birds. They can eat large amounts of seed, destroy bird feeders and chase birds away. When squirrels claim your feeder as their territory, it is hard to get rid of them. They will take up residence close to their feeding territory, and they'll soon have babies at your feeder as well.

Squirrels can be relentless in their perpetual pursuit of your bird feed, especially if you have chosen to let the birds dine on sunflower seeds or chopped peanuts. However, it doesn't really matter if you're giving your feathered friends sunflower seed, millet seed, safflower seed, chopped peanuts or cracked corn, the fact of the matter is that squirrels will eat pretty much whatever the birds will, and most squirrels are hard-wire programmed not to share their food.

Bird-lovers have tried countless devices and gimmicks over the years to thwart seed-stealing squirrels. One of the most effective tactics is taste aversion. Simply put, if the seed you serve tastes bad to squirrels, they'll seek sustenance elsewhere.

Studies show that mammals, including squirrels, have receptors on the tongue and in the mouth that react to chili peppers by sending heat signals to the brain. Although there's no actual damage, the sensation makes it seem as though the mouth is on fire. Birds lack the receptors that make chewing chili peppers such an eye-watering experience for mammals--they can eat peppers all day long and never feel a thing.

Put pesky squirrels on notice that your bird feeder is meant to be bird-exclusive by stocking the feeder with products that incorporate habanero pepper. The feed appeals to birds, but turns squirrels off with a chili-pepper oil. Cornell University scientists tested the technology and found it highly effective in reducing the number of squirrel visits at the feeder.

Another option is Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce, a nutritional birdseed supplement that contains all-natural, 100 percent food grade ingredients with a super-hot and spicy flavor. Add this chili pepper formula to any quality birdseed to reduce squirrel visits, or spray it on garden plants to keep squirrels and other mammals from digging and eating plants.

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