University City

Fellow bird lovers share squirrel stories, advice

Bird lovers unite.

My last column struck a chord with readers who enjoy feeding birds - not squirrels.

I wrote about my continuing battle with squirrels, which are determined to eat the seed I put out to attract birds.

Several readers offered safe tactics to let the squirrels know they are not welcome to eat the bird food. Thank you very much for sharing your ideas.

I'll pass on the suggestion that would allow you to substitute squirrel for chicken in your recipes. I'd like squirrels to live long, happy lives. But I'd like them to enjoy their dining experiences away from my birdfeeders.

One reader, Louise Forte, said she read my column with sympathy and delight. "They are destructive and relentless," she said. "I tried the cayenne pepper treatment only to watch them sneeze and eat away!"

Louise said her successful remedy was the purchase of The Flipper birdfeeder. It worked so well she bought two of them. The feeder literally flips the squirrels to the ground when they go after the bird food.

Another reader, Monica Adams, from Highland Creek, shared her success with a barrel tube that covers the birdfeeder pole. The squirrels can't climb that pole.

Monica said, "Our squirrels have been reduced to eating the leftover droppings on the ground. Now, if I could get our seeds to last for more than a day, that would be great."

Another fellow bird-feeder, Suzi, provided details about the pole idea. "It's important to use a tall pole," metal, wood or plastic, she said. "Always add a PVC pipe that must be at least 5-inches around (to keep their tiny sharp claws from digging in). It's important to run the feeder pole up through a large PVC pipe before digging (deep) into the ground. Another tactic is to include a saucer guard (also called "critter-baffler") on the pole."

The photo Suzi Hoskins provided shows the pole and the baffler. The height of the pole is 5 to 6 feet. It is also important to keep the poles and feeders away from anything the squirrels can use as a launching pad.

Bob Schwarzwaelder, co-owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Concord, says they sell a variety of different "critter baffles" for their birdfeeders. He says, "They work in 95 percent of the cases. They prevent squirrels, raccoons and snakes from going up the pole. But, you need to have a 10-foot clear area for your feeder system."

One more secret weapon used by Suzie is the old-fashioned Slinky toy; it must be the metal version. She attaches it securely to the top of the pole and wraps it all the way down. Suzi has successfully used this method for three years. Squirrels can't handle the Slinky, she said.

Since space is tight, I can't share the all of the ideas that did not work for readers, but I do hope some of these successful tactics will be helpful to you.

Hopefully, the view for most of us bird lovers is one of beautiful birds enjoying our treats. The other entertaining site would be watching the squirrels being outwitted.