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The Backyard Birder
Birding Facts
Choosing a Bird Feeder
Locating your  Feeder
Cleaning your feeder
Types of Bird Seed
Controlling Squirrels


Did you know?
A new wild bird seed has been introduced and tested that actually repels squirrels.

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Controlling Squirrels

Not all your birds' enemies kill. Some steal and the thief that turns up on every rap sheet is the common squirrel. Squirrels are members of the rodent family, a family which also includes animals like rats and beavers. A characteristic common to the family is front teeth that continually grow and need to be constantly filed down by chewing. Squirrels have the ability to chew through tough shells, wood feeders and even metal.  Most importantly, though, is the fact that squirrels like to eat many of the same things that birds do, particularly those luscious black oil and striped sunflower seeds and various other types of wild birdseeds. Squirrels are intelligent, agile and determined, and the price of protecting your precious supply of birdseed will be constant vigilance or expensive feeding devices.

The name, squirrel, refers to the animal's most distinguishing physical characteristic, its large bushy tail, and is derived from two Greek words, skia, shadow, and oura, tail. One characteristic squirrels share with many other rodents is teeth which grow continuously and which must be constantly filed down by gnawing and chewing. The perfect teeth for nuts and seeds. There are ten members of the squirrel family in North America. Of that ten, the most prevalent in Canada and across the eastern half of the United States is the eastern gray squirrel.

As every birdfeeder owner knows, squirrels are natural opportunists when it comes to dining. Depending on the season, they will eat an assortment of seeds, nuts, and fruit. They can consume up to their body weight in food in a week.

The great war between squirrels and bird-lovers has been going on for just about as long as there have been birdfeeders. And although they may not be great conversationalists squirrels have been clever enough to defeat the plans of even the most determined backyard birder. They can shimmy up poles and their high-wire acts are legendary. As jumpers, they have few equals as well.

In response, birdfeeder owners have resorted to a variety of strategies up to and including electro-shock aversion therapy. Stringing feeders along very thin wire has proven effective in some cases although this makes access difficult when the time comes for re-filling or cleaning. Placing a smooth cylindrical baffle on the pole supporting the feeder has worked in a few other cases. Some bird lovers have simply given up and installed squirrel feeders as well in the hope that the squirrels will be lured away and leave the birds in peace. Many mechanical devices have been marketed to deter squirrels but their success has been very limited. Most of these contraptions create a hideous, unpleasant "Fort Knox" appearance and make bird watching difficult. Others are downright dangerous. 

Recently, a new product has appeared on the market that makes the task of deterring squirrels a little easier. ( Squirrel Proof Wild Bird Seed) It is wild bird seed coated with capsaicin pepper which is a natural compound derived from the active ingredient in chili peppers. This pepper coating takes advantage of the fact that birds lack the taste receptor for hot, the chemical reaction created by the pepper. Foods that would be too hot for the strongest human taste buds don't bother birds a bit. Squirrels, and most other mammals for that matter, are like humans in that they do taste the heat. And they don't like it. Research has demonstrated that pepper-coated birdseed is very effective in deterring squirrels. They may try it but they will soon move on. If squirrel raids are a problem for your bird feeder, this new product is something you may want to consider. It's a safe, natural compound, not a chemical, and most importantly it works.

For more information, click here.



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