What to do when squirrels get your goat
After my recent column on the Francis Fund, where I professed my love of all God’s creatures, both big and small, I owe you an update on “off again/on again” relationship with squirrels.
This relationship is so-named because a minute after I chase squirrels “off’” my bird feeders, they are right back “on” again — and again — and again.
I wrote about this situation last year, and how I had turned to a Walther PPK replica BB gun to step up the squirrel control.
To me it seemed like a sporting solution to the problem, but I heard from many of my friends and readers that it was — in a word — overkill.
Well, let me reassure you that I wasn’t exactly a ‘marksman’ when I was in the Air Force, and that was nearly 50 years ago, when my vision was 20/15. These days, my vision is more like 20/50, and that is corrected with eyeglasses that often have smudged-their-way to resemble frosted glass.
What I am saying is that — “No squirrels were harmed as a result of my right to bear arms.” I was simply making myself about as much a nuisance to them as they were to me.
Over the past year, I have learned that walking out on the deck and shouting, “Bam, Bam, Bam” is just as effective as a BB gun. To save my voice, I have recently just walked out on the deck, and in a normal tone, said something like, “OK, you pretty little squirrel(s), please hop down from my deck, head down the ravine and find your own source of food.” As the squirrels scamper down the steps from my deck, I say “Thank you for your service.”
Did you know? — There are many reasonable ways to deal with squirrels that eat more than their fair share of the birdseed. You can switch to a special birdseed treated with capsaicin — the active ingredient that puts the ‘hot’ in hot peppers. The birds have no problem with the heat, but when mammals feed on the treated seed, it irritates their mouths. (See the lovely photo on this page.)
Hot birdseed is available from my friends at Pleasant Places, 36 N. Main St. in downtown Waynesville.
Another solution is to get a specialty bird feeder made specifically to thwart the little varments. There are ‘trap door’ feeders that send all creatures heavier than birds on a freefall. There are also what I call ‘spinneroo’ feeders that allow all shapes and sizes of birds to feed, but send squirrels ‘round and ‘round and eventually down.
These feeders are a little more expensive, but pay out in the long run by eliminating all but the birds from eating the seed. Such feeders are also available at Pleasant Places.
Finally, an alternative approach is to give squirrels their own place to feed — closer to their natural habitat and far from your birdfeeder. Many of my squirrel-loving friends have taken this approach. And even the Humane Society of the U.S. suggests, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
For complete information on squirrels and bird feeders, point your browser to www.humanesociety.org, or check out the book, “Wild Neighbors — The Humane Approach to Living with Wildlife.”
In conclusion, I leave you with this final thought — It sure is expensive to be at the top of the food chain.