Cute and athletic …..
with a big appetite!
Some consider squirrels to be garden invaders who raid our bird tables and feeders. Although we may marvel at their brazen acrobatics, squirrels can be unwanted guests because of the amount of food they consume and the damage they can cause to feeders in an attempt to access the tasty treats inside.
Squirrels love nuts, seeds, fruit, and grain. It not surprising that bird feeding stations are so tempting to them. With little effort they can raid our handy garden larder again and again. A large number of squirrels can cause quite a lot of trouble, by digging up flower beds, munching garden flower bulbs, stripping the bark off trees and letting our garden birds go hungry by stealing their food.
There are two species of squirrel living in the UK, red and grey squirrels. Our protected native Red squirrel has reduced in numbers considerably since grey squirrels were introduced in Victorian times. Greys are regarded as an invasive species (pictured above). They are faster, stronger and hardier than our native red squirrel and are thought to be carriers of a virus usually fatal to the reds.
Here at Giddy Gate Farm we are big fans of the rapidly diminishing red squirrel. The pinewoods located on the coastline at Formby is only 10 miles from us and is one area where reds still live in the UK
Read on to get some handy tips for safeguarding your bird food from unwanted attention…….
Squirrel proof your bird feeder
Hang feeders out of reach, away from trees or anything that is nearer than 9 foot that could conveniently be used as a springboard!
Invest in squirrel proof feeder. Many have a guard mesh small enough for many small garden birds to squeeze through and reach the seed or nuts. Others have a clever release mechanism which will prevent squirrels and larger birds from accessing the seed
Window mounted feeders can be difficult for squirrels to access, but be warned, if they learn to pull them off the window there will be a big mess on the floor!
For bird feeders or tables mounted on poles a squirrel baffle can send squirrels hunting for food elsewhere. Place the metal baffle on the pole below the feeder. Make sure it is above 4 foot from the ground though, squirrels can jump very high. You could even grease the pole with petroleum jelly to make it too slippery for them to climb.
A conical or round purpose built squirrel deterrent that is placed above a hanging feeder could prove too difficult to negotiate climbing past to reach the food. You could even make one from a tin or a plastic drinks bottle.
For those of you placing feeders on the washing line, place a piece of empty hosepipe over the line on each side of the feeder to stop squirrels being able to shimmy along.
If your squirrels are just too persistent…..
Invest in food squirrels will not want to eat
Nyjer seeds are relished by finches including the beautiful Goldfinch but are a ‘no, no!’ for squirrels!
Add capsicum to bird food
Capsicum, the active ingredient in chillies to bird food. Birds do not feel the chilli burn like mammals do. Once the squirrels try the hot and spicy bird food they shouldn’t be coming back for any more!
Create an area in your garden specifically for squirrels
Many people do not want to actively encourage squirrels into their garden. However providing a separate squirrel feeding station may help to distract them from raiding the bird feeders every day.