Natural Methods to Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders

Natural Methods to Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders
A squirrel's diet consists of fruits, plants, seeds, nuts and flowers. Squirrels are attracted to bird feeders for the tasty, convenient food supply. While there are many inhumane methods to prevent squirrels from getting into a bird feeder, using a natural strategy helps respect and preserve both native squirrel and bird populations. Outsmarting a cunning squirrel is not always an easy task, but bird aficionado's will find it worth the effort.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Squirrel-proof bird feeder Metal/PVC pole Vegetable oil (optional) Pepper-coated birdseed Secondary feeding station (optional)
  • Squirrel-proof bird feeder
  • Metal/PVC pole
  • Vegetable oil (optional)
  • Pepper-coated birdseed
  • Secondary feeding station (optional)
Step 1
Select a bird feeder that is marketed as "squirrel-proof." They are often weight-sensitive, sealing off the food supply if the weight on the feeder is too heavy. Other types of bird feeders feature a metal cage with openings just large enough for small birds to slip through (all the while keeping hungry squirrels at bay).
Step 2
Mount a bird feeder to a smooth and slippery pole. A metal or PVC pole is more challenging for a squirrel to climb than a standard wood post. Add slickness to the pole's surface by applying vegetable oil.
Step 3
Position obstacles along the bird feeder's post to make it difficult for a squirrel to get into the bird feeder. Many stores sell "squirrel collars," which are disks or tubes that encircle a bird feeder's pole. These obstacles are often effective if the feeder is far from a tree. Another option is to place the bird feeder above rose bushes, as thorns are a natural deterrent.
Step 4
Implement a "taste aversion conditioning" method. Change the bird seed to a natural squirrel-proof variety, such as cayenne pepper-coated seed. According to a 1999 Cornell University study, treating bird feed with capsaicin (pepper) produces effective results. Squirrels naturally dislike the peppery taste of the bird seed and will seek out other food sources. An added bonus? Cornell reported no change in bird visitation to feeders after the seed switch.
Step 5
Offer an alternate feeding station designed to attract squirrels. Mount an easy-to-reach feeder with inexpensive bird seed, dried corn, sunflower seeds and peanuts. Squirrels will soon be weaned away from your favorite bird feeder.

Tips & Warnings

 
Many natural products---such as squirrel-proof feeders and seed---are available at your local Home Depot, Lowe's or bird-feed supply store.
 
Squirrels are persistent creatures, and they will continuously attempt to outwit any obstacle for a tasty meal.

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