native plants, plant care, Uncategorized, wildlife gardening

For the birds: keeping squirrels out of birdfood and birds out of people food!

How do I keep squirrels out of birdfeeders?  I don’t mind feeding both, but can’t keep the feeders full because the pesky varmints keeping raiding my feeders!   Bob

I’m fed up with my tomatoes getting pecked by birds just as they start to ripen. HELP!  Sarah

A multi-pronged approach at my house seems the best remedy for feeding the birds without their main food source becoming squirrel lunch or MY lunch.

HIT: hot pepper + birdfood = NO SQUIRRELS
birds love it, squirrels... not so much

For bird-food, I’ve found pepper suet the best solution for the feeder outside my kitchen window. The woodpeckers adore it, but any mammal that comes close gets a big whiff and does a backflip.  (Not a pretty sight until I learned gloves and glasses prevented the unprecedented HEAT WAVE not seen since my pre-hormone therapy days!)  You can make it yourself, but I buy mine at my local Ace Hardware because I almost always have a coupon in my inbox.

Another trick I’ve found useful is the recycled bird cage rescued from a landscaping job I did a few years ago.  (I’m not sure what the original owners kept in the PINK cage, but the bottom was intact so I guess it held very large birds, not chicks.)

my anti-squirrel cage

I promptly sprayed it black with a non-toxic paint and removed the door.  Where the perch hung before, my feeder dangles now full of an inexpensive songbird mix.  I’ll often find the birdcage loaded with everything from cardinals and red-winged blackbirds to indigo buntings and chickadees to cooing doves grazing on the seed knocked below.  A squirrel DID find his way in once, but his trauma undoubtedly convinced all others there must be a better way to make a living.

The plants I’ve chosen to use in my landscape are feeders in themselves.  Natives that boast lots of berries, seeds and nuts keep everyone fed, even when I’m out of town and can’t supplement it for them.

As far as keeping the birds from munching the plants I grow for my family to eat, I’ve found netting to be an effective deterrent. I don’t cut it off the roll, though.

A net keeps the plants IN and the birds OUT!

I pull off the needed amount of netting for that part of the garden (most of my fruiting plants are grouped since that’s really the only part of my yard that gets sufficient sun) and lay it atop metal fence posts so that the plants continue to get good air circulation.    Don’t forget to give the birds a CLEAN water source, too.  Often when they peck a hole in fruit such as a peach or tomato, they are actually looking for something to drink, not eat.

We love watching the wildlife that live around us.  What are some of your tips for keeping it from getting TOO WILD at your house?

MYTH: feeders are the best feeders. Not true...native plants were feeding the birds long before we came along!


2 thoughts on “For the birds: keeping squirrels out of birdfood and birds out of people food!”

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