Feeding the Birds or the Squirrels?

Win A Victory On the

Backyard Battleground
ARA Content
Few sights ignite as much frustration in the hearts of bird-lovers as a squirrel's bushy tail bobbing happily in the birdfeeder. Serious birders and casual bird lovers alike know that when the squirrels move in there's not often much left for the birds.

Outwitting the squirrels is even more important in spring, when food is still scarce for birds. Too cool for many insect populations and months away from fruit on trees or ground seeds, birds may struggle to find enough to eat.

It is possible, however, to provide for your feathered friends and keep squirrels out of the feeder. With the right seed mix and some nature-friendly squirrel control tactics you might just be able to win the battle and keep everyone happy in your backyard habitat.

The first step is to draw the birds to your back yard. Next, provide alternatives or deterrents to convince squirrels to stay out of the bird feeder. Here are some steps for doing just that:

Buy the right seed
Birds, like people, are selective - even picky - when it comes to food. To attract the most birds to your feeder, buy the best seed possible. 'Many commercial feed mixes contain cheap filler seeds like red milo that most songbirds just don't like. They'll sort through the undesirable mix to get to the "good stuff" - and leave the rest in the feeder or on the ground. What the birds won't eat, the squirrels will love, so reducing the waste will help reduce your feeder's appeal for squirrels.

Opt for a mix that offers birds select natural seed choices specially formulated just for them. Avoid brands that wash or coat the seeds with chemicals and mineral oil to make the seed look more appealing to humans. The feed should be kept as close to a natural state as possible.

Finally, select seed mixes that attract specific types of birds. A god mix will contain seeds that appeal to bright favorites like goldfinches, woodpeckers, cardinals, and bluebirds, as well as colorful migrating species.

Birds are like people; give them what they like to eat and they'll keep coming back -
and they'll bring their friends.

On to the squirrels
Squirrels need not be an inevitable element of bird feeding. Love them or loath them, most birders agree they don't want squirrels in the feeder, where they can damage the feeder itself and devour seed meant for the birds.

One alternative is to stock your feeder with a seed that the birds will love, but squirrels will hate. Squirrels will eat just about anything you put out for the birds. But some companies infuse top quality sunflower meats with a Habanero chili pepper and Safflower oil that birds find delicious but squirrels simply hate. The blend is a safe, effective, and a humane way to feed the birds and not the squirrels.

Another option is to serve the squirrels something they'll find even more appealing than bird seed. It is possible to enjoy both the squirrels and the birds in your back yard if you lure them away from the feeder. Squirrels love whole, dried corn-on-the-cob and loose dried corn.Provide these munchies on an open platform style feeder, an ear of dried corn on a stick, or even a stake (or pinecone) coated with peanut butter, and hopefully squirrels will be less of a problem at the bird feeding station.

Finally, if you just can't stand the bushy-tailed pests in your back yard, consider an organic solution that sends them packing safely and effectively. There are several OMRI certified 100 percent organic animal repellents on the market. Easily applies in a ready-to-use spray bottle, they dry clear, have a pleasant aroma and work for 30 days before reapplication is needed, no matter the weather. Spray it around your feeder and the squirrels will stay clear. It won't harm the squirrels or the birds.

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