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Hot Pepper Suet for Birdfeeders
Keep Squirrels Away From Your Birdfeeder by Using Hot Pepper Suet
Enjoying a bird feeder in your back yard is a hobby that millions of people have a passion for. There is nothing like a male cardinal come calling on the barren branches of a tree with snow covered ground all around. Their red just pops out!
In the wintertime, in particular, putting out a suet feeder for birds will provide the high energy food that they need to get through the cold winter months. However, squirrels like that high energy food as well. One of the most clever ways to control those squirrel predators is with hot pepper suet.
Photo credit: Scott Catron, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Squirrel Proof Feeders - A Dual Attack
Squirrel proofing a bird feeder is quite a difficult job. There are many squirrel proof feeders available these days, but most of them work by limiting the physical access squirrels have to the feeder. Pepper bird suet feeders take a different approach that works surprisingly well.
Nature's Solution - Capsicum
Nature has provided its own ingenious solution. It turns out that over the years, peppers have developed their heat by creating capsicum, the chemical responsible for the "hotness" of peppers and other capsicums. But the odd thing is that the birds aren't bothered by it so they will consume it without hesitation. But the mammals like squirrels can find the heat most offensive.
So one solution to the never ending squirrel problem is to add pepper to the suet in the feeders to keep squirrels and rodents away. With pepper suet the birds are unaffected, but the feeder pests can't tolerate it. You don't need cages, spinning squirrel proof bird feeders or squirrel baffles on the feeder pole to get rid of the squirrels.
A tropical American pepper plant of the nightshade family with fruits containing many seeds. Many cultivated varieties with edible, pungent fruits have been developed.
Helping the Birds in Wintertime
Wintertime can be the toughest months for many local birds. Many of the sources of food consumed in the summer time are not to be found in the winter months. Many bushes have dropped their berry or fruit production long ago, the insects that are a staple of the bird diet are in hiding, and the snow and ice serve to cover what little food is left. To help our birds survive the winter, we look for quality food sources to give them, and suet is often the choice.
Bird suet is a great source of calories that birds need so much to make it through the summer months. The suet is made by rendering the fat from mutton or beef products, and is often mixed with other high energy foods like peanuts to create a high fat, high protein product that stands up well to the cold temperatures. The rendered form of natural suet can go bad at warmer temperatures so many people use it only as a food in the winter. These days there are suet products that have been formulated to hold up better in the summertime, so you can use it year round if you like, but it's not all natural suet. You simply put it in a suet bird feeder and the birds love it.
Like many types of bird food that we put out, the local "thieves", like squirrels, love it just as much as the birds, so we have to find ways to discourage them. Many of the squirrel feeders today have all sorts of moving parts like doors or spinning motors to help keep the squirrels from the food.
One year my husband grew habanero pepper plants. These are VERY hot peppers that I soon found I had to wear gloves just to pick them. Needless to say, we did not consume them; however, there are people in our area of the country who will eat them. Since they were a beautiful orange color and it was Halloween when we harvested them, so we simply put them in plastic sandwich bags and gave them out at a Trunk or Treat event. They fit right in with the theme of the holiday.
We have not grown them since!