Stopping Skillful Squirrels
If you have trouble with squirrels eating from your bird feeders, there are a few ways to deal with them. Some bird feeders and accessories are designed with this in mind. The Squirrel Be Gone Wild Bird Feeder has a spring-loaded perch that allows the lightweight birds to sit and eat, but when the weight of a squirrel comes down on it, it will close off the opening of the feeder, preventing the squirrel from being able to get at the seeds. The Squirrel Stumper Wild Bird Feeder has a wire barrier that allows birds to get in, but keeps squirrels out. For other tips on outsmarting squirrels, check out this video by Bird Man Mel here.
Ridding Rascally Raccoons
If you hang your feeders from trees, you may have more trouble with raccoons. Instead of sliding down a chain like a squirrel, raccoons will haul the feeder up to the branch, so try hanging your feeder on a Branch Hook instead of a wire or chain. You can put a cage around your feeder similar to the Squirrel Stumper, though with a raccoon you may need a cage with a wider diameter. If your bird feeder is hanging from a pole, you can wrap it in galvanized piping because raccoons have difficulty climbing slick metal. Since raccoons are mainly nocturnal, you can bring in your bird feeders at night as well.
If You Can’t Stand the Heat…
Birds don’t react to capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot peppers), so you can mix some cayenne pepper, habanero or other hot sauce into your bird seed without it having an effect on the birds. Squirrels, raccoons, and other mammals will be repelled by the spicy smell and taste.
Remember to keep your bird feeders far enough away from trees and decks by using a Shepherd’s Hook so raccoons and squirrels can’t take a flying leap to get to the food.
Some critters can be quite determined when they find food that they like and will try anything (including destroying your bird feeders) to get what they want.