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Hot Pepper Suet for Birdfeeders

Updated on January 19, 2017
JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

You can love and support your backyard birds in many ways. And yes, when a cardinal visits, I do believe it is like a visit from Heaven!

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.

Capsicum

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.

Habanero Peppers

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!

What's Your Favorite Way to Keep Squirrels Away?

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    • jayavi profile image

      jayavi 4 years ago

      Interesting lens. Good solution to keep squirrels away.

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      Enjoyed your article!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image
      Author

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      @anonymous: Great! You are so lucky to have pileated woodpeckers! Thanks for the great description, I felt like I was watching too!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm watching it work right now! The squirrels have been devouring my suet cakes daily so I got the chili pepper tip from a local birding store. I used only 1/2 the suet cake and rolled it in the chili powder. The young batch of squirrels give up immediately, but right now there's a beautiful pileated woodpecker going to town on it. Simple fix!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      How interesting - definitely a way to solve that problem! Thanks for sharing!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Very interesting solution. I would never have thought of it. I do put out suet feeders in the winter. I'm fortunate in that I very rarely see a squirrel here. It's quite likely, though, that I will have an opportunity to try this remedy. Squirrels were a challenge when I lived in Texas (helping themselves generously to the birdseed). The feeder that worked the best in terms of less seed loss were the bell-shaped wire mesh feeders. Try as they might, the squirrels weren't able to dislodge many seeds. Thank you for providing easy and safe solutions for critter management. Appreciated!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image
      Author

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      @flinnie lm: Hi Flinnie, I have also heard you can sprinkle ground cayenne pepper around your plants to keep critters away. I have tried it and I must say, the problem went away. Happy Squidooing!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 5 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi the name of this lens caught my eye, this is the first time learning about putting hot pepper in suet to keep the squirrels away. Great ideal I like this.

    • SuperZoe LM profile image

      SuperZoe LM 5 years ago

      This sounds like a great idea! Wonderful tip, thank you!

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      I had no idea about this! Thanks!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      Sounds like a great way to discourage the squirrels:)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Convert regular suet cakes by softening them in the microwave, mixing in a couple of tablespoons of crushed red pepper, and resolidifying them in the refrigerator. Keeps my squirrels away with minimal cost and effort.

    • serenity4me lm profile image

      serenity4me lm 6 years ago

      Oh my gosh, I've never heard of such a thing. It might be worth trying. I love my bird watching. thank you,