When I first put up my feeders this spring, I spent a great deal of time stressing about squirrels. They were eating the bird food and scaring away my feathered friends. When you do some quick googling, you will find page after page of people trying to figure out how to get rid of them. They are, for all intents and purposes, the bane of a birder’s existence. So I read websites and I put up baffles, bought hot pepper food, and on more than one occasion sent my boys outside to scream and clap to scare them away. And while they took great joy in this, it wasn’t always a practical solution.
So I bought a squirrel feeder and filled it with peanuts. And then another. And I got better baffles and trimmed the trees. And we’ve come to an understanding. I periodically give them peanuts and they entertain me. Because truly, they’re like toddlers: They run and jump and annoy each other and then they screech and complain and fall asleep, usually in a very strange and seemingly uncomfortable place.
The birds don’t seem to mind too much when the bravest and most agile of them manage to scale the baffles and find their way into the feeders. And it doesn’t last long before they’re off to nap again. They’ve become part of my backyard, and while I still watch them and think, “If I trim one more branch they won’t be able to get on that last feeder…,” we’ve mostly become friends.
Are you battling backyard squirrels? Check out our booklet Enjoying Squirrels More (Or Less!) at Redstart Birding. Squirrel expert Howard Youth recounts stories from the squirrel/feeder war front, profiles a colorful roundup of North American squirrels, and outlines ways of keeping squirrels away from your feeders.
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