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The Best Way to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Bird Feeder

Updated on June 24, 2014

The Wild Birds Eating in the Smokey Mountain Foothills in North Georgia

The Best Addition to Our New Home!

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We Moved to the Country

Within the last six months, we moved out of the state of South Carolina (Charleston), in a heavily populated area, to a remote, mountainous area in North Georgia. We have thoroughly enjoyed the seasons thus far.

Winter was cold, but not that cold; averaging in the 20-30 degree range. It snowed twice which entertained us with a beautiful crystal white blanket all over our house, driveway, vehicles, and most beautifully on the bare trees all about our elevated and sloped property. "Wow!', I thought, being a native Floridian. This is one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.

Than along came the season of spring. We planted wild flower seeds, azalea and dahlia bushes, decorated our small yard with solar lights for safety. We added stepping stones to make the space under the front porch easily accessible for retrieving firewood when the fall and winter seasons return, and to access our small shed full of yard tools for use in the summer.

In the summertime, we have our share of bugs, but nothing we can't handle. We prepared by spraying insecticide externally, battling wasps with wasp spray, and we use citronella candles to combat the few mosquitoes we've encountered.

In order to experience and appreciate nature in our area, we decided to purchase a bird feeder. Each morning and evening you can find us on our porch listening to the aviators communicate with each other with the most adorable sounds. We are serenaded by hundreds of birds singing the most precious songs everyday.

Not long after we purchased the bird feeder, a couple of squirrels helped themselves to the bird seed in the feeder. This was okay with us since we enjoyed their cute little faces too. But then, they started coming by the dozen, spilling all the bird seed and making total messes on our beautiful porch. By messes, I'm not only referring to the spilled bird seed. Our beautiful deck became a bit unsanitary.

In The Beginning There Was Enough For Everybody

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Bird Species we Have Enjoyed

After erecting our bird feeder there were a plethora of wild birds who took advantage of the "buffet" we provided for them. The show started early with finches, yellow finches, and robins. We also have a family of cardinals including a male, female, and baby (named "Red", "Mrs Red", and "Baby") who frequently enjoy a snack in our feeder. Blue jays, wood peckers, brown thrashers, tuft titmice, and many other unidentified species of birds have been seen supping on the delicious seed, as well.

As a bonus, the seed that is accidentally spilled over our balcony is enjoyed by the cutest little chipmunks of whom I've named "Alvin", "Theodore", and "Simon". So there are many wildlife shows on display on a nearly constant basis at my house.

Here Comes Trouble!

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...And The Invasion Gets Worse!

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Living in Harmony?

Although there seemed to be enough bird seed to fill everyone's belly at this point, we thought the squirrels were just as adorable and entertaining. The squirrels didn't seem to scare away the birds, and it appeared everyone was taking their turn...until it got crazy! These varmint popped the top of my bird feeder open, and dumped the seed all over the deck THREE times!

One morning in particular, I woke up to SIX squirrels on my porch at the same time. All the animals are comfortable with me sharing the deck and observing their eating habits, so there was no fear or intimidation whatsoever. I must say, however, I had an overwhelming feeling when I encountered this many squirrels at once. In addition, I noticed three or four more peering at me from the surrounding trees and two or three climbing over the roof of the house and making an eerie scratching noise above my head as they made their way down to get closer to the bird seed. I also encountered two of them crawling up from the ground on porch beams. My porch is on the second story with an open area underneath.

As I watched this creepy chaos under a cloudy overcast, a black crow started cawing in the tree above me. I felt like I was in a horror movie written by Stephen King or Alfred Hitchcock. It was extremely strange. I was also beginning to notice urine puddles and piles of small feces which I deemed unsanitary for our living conditions.

At that point, it was clear; something had to be done, and fast!

Bird Feeder Nightmares

Do you have issues with squirrels stealing your bird feed and making messes?

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Squirrel After Eating Crushed Red Pepper

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Lets be Fair - Squirrels Like to Snack Too

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The Squirrels eat Bread and Peanuts out of a Clear Plastic Dish

The Research

After much research on the subject of humanely getting rid of squirrels, or at best, keeping them out of our bird feeder, we attempted a few remedies. We tried a different type of bird seed, and we tried chasing them away when we caught them. We tried greasing the pole that the bird feeder hangs from. Finally, we came to the conclusion that we would just have to give up the bird feeder. But then, one morning we were watching the Weather Channel, and lo and behold, they had the answer!

CRUSHED RED PEPPER!

Apparently, mammals are the only group of animals who can actually taste spicy foods. Birds don't have the taste buds to do so, and in fact, eat the red pepper for nutrients and vitamins. Some vendors will sell bird seed covered in red pepper dust, however this is NOT recommended because the dust can be picked up by the wind and cause pain in the eyes of any living thing in the vicinity. That being said, if you use the crushed red pepper in your kitchen; the spice you use on your pizza or other dishes, it is completely safe for all. The pepper must be crushed into flakes or chunks.

The squirrels will not like it, and will most definitely have a reaction to it. It is not painful to the critter in any way, its just a bit uncomfortable for him. We've seen the squirrels eat the bird seed, and within minutes, lay flat on the deck appearing to be confused. Then they quickly scamper off to get water in our small creek just below the deck. It only takes once or twice and that squirrel doesn't want your bird seed anymore.

Crushed red pepper is very inexpensive, and only about 1/4 cup in 1 pound of bird seed is all that is needed. When you first introduce the pepper to your bird feeder, you may want to sprinkle a teaspoon or a little more in the feeding tray to get the process started.

FOR BEST RESULTS, USE FINCH FOOD! Regular wild birdseed often comes with larger bits of sunflower seeds and corn. The squirrels are smart enough to pick these out, so dumping your bird feeder to get at the morsels they enjoy will most likely continue.

I haven't seen a squirrel in my bird feeder for weeks now. But being the good hearted animal lover that I am, I've fed them stale bread and peanuts in a clear plastic dish.on a different end of the porch. I eventually purchased healthy rabbit and squirrel food (which wasn't that expensive) to fill an old, sealed milk container kept on the deck for their enjoyment.

Now, all our wild life creatures are fat and happy, and my husband and I are thoroughly enjoying a more sanitary, less expensive, show every morning and every evening.

The Location of This Squirrel-Bird Feeder Battle

A markerGeorgia Hwy 306 and Georgia Hwy 53 -
Georgia 53 & Georgia 306, Gainesville, GA 30506, USA
get directions

© 2014 Mmargie1966

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great photos. Squirrels sure are resourceful.

    • profile image

      Jacklyn 2 years ago

      All of these articles have saved me a lot of hesahcdea.

    • profile image

      Rubeena 2 years ago

      Thanks! A lot of people do not reilaze the cash that it takes, the time to prepare, do it, edit it down, add water marks and other things, etc. And to release 5 per week religiously? If I miss a day people know. Its why I snicker over a few things. Im burned our after 2 years of this and have another 100 vids to film of unique topics.

    • Mmargie1966 profile image
      Author

      Mmargie1966 3 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      My son had this problem when he had a bird feeder. Good to know Finch food works. Loved your photos!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      thanks for this hub. when I'm old and gray, Im sure I will love to have a bird feeder so that I can watch the birds.

    • Mmargie1966 profile image
      Author

      Mmargie1966 3 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Squirrel is very tasty..I have some good recipes.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 3 years ago from Arlington, TX

      I was thinking more along the lines of a .22 caliber. Nice write though Margie.

      TFP