30 March 2015

Maybe this is the answer ... maybe not...

A recent speaker at the WI gave me all sorts of hints about dealing with squirrels although his real interest was birds. Over a cup of tea I mentioned my frustration over the four-legged friends creatures that eat all the birds food so Chris ... that’s Chris Edwards from the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) ... gave me a few ideas and some leaflets.

Apparently the best way to fool squirrels is to hang a feeder from fishing line because it’s too thin for them to get a grip. Well, that would mean rethinking the whole problem from scratch, like where would I hang the fishing line bearing in mind that squirrels can leap to great heights. I suppose it would be okay if (a) there was an isolated branch about a mile high on which to attach the line, (b) we had a tall enough ladder to reach the branch, or (c) I had an aptitude for climbing.

I found Chris’ second suggestion more appealing. Actually is was an idea thought up by my cleaning lady, which I dismissed as – er – rubbish since she knows nothing about birds or squirrels (apologies to Paola). Surprise, surprise, Chris came up with the same piece of information. Chilli Powder! In fact, one of the suggestions in the literature said the same thing. Chilli Powder! Apparently birds don’t mind the hot stuff but squirrels can’t stand it.

Today I bought my first jar of chilli powder. I didn’t realise there was more than one grade of heat, so I searched the supermarket shelf until I spotted one marked HOT. I couldn’t wait to try it out on the wildlife!

There are four feeders on the feeding station. One contains dried meal worm, one holds peanuts, and the other two are filled with peeled sunflower seed. I decided just to add chilli powder to one and leave the other as it was. I didn’t want to deprive the birds altogether if they didn’t like the hot stuff. So far, so good! The chaffinches aim for the chilli-free feeder, the bullfinches don’t mind it, and the goldfinches and greenfinches seem to love it. The squirrel, though, heads for the chilli-free feeder. After watching him for a while to be certain, I sneaked out and switched the feeders. It is obvious that he prefers chilli-free seed. Of course, the slightly reddened seeds gave the game away but secretly I hoped he was colour-blind.

After a couple of days I noticed that the birds definitely preferred chilli-free seed. Goldfinches and Greenfinches would have a few then transfer to the feeder the didn't contain the hot stuff. However, it's something new and they may just need time to get used to it. 

Decision: continue the watching brief until certain that the experiment is a success. If so then I'll fill all the feeders with hot chilli and you’ll probably hear me cackling as I do it. On the other hand, you might just hear a few sobs.


  1. That is certainly an interesting experiment Valerie. I shall have to remember this and although I love the squirrels, I wish they wouldn't devour the bird seed like a locust swarm.

  2. We have a lot of squirrels because of the walnuts....When we have walnuts we don't have problems with them eating the bird feed. I will remember this if they become more of a problem.

  3. We have a squirrel baffle. It's just a wide, clear, plastic half dome which you fix on the feeder pole. The squirrel climbs the pole, but gets stuck inside the dome and can't get a grip on the outside to heave himself up and round. We bought it to discourage rats from climbing the feeder and it works. It was quite educational watching the little beggar try, try again, then retire to think about it, and come back and try a different strategy. Eventually he gave up. Victory!!

  4. " Chilli Powder! In fact, one of the suggestions in the literature said the same thing. Chilli Powder! Apparently birds don’t mind the hot stuff but squirrels can’t stand it."

    Valerie, that's VERY interesting but I'm not at all surprised because there are certain things that certain animals (and even insects) don't like, which deters them from coming around. For instance, I use Eucalyptus oil to deter water bugs from coming into my apartment during the warm summer months and it works! Also, peppermint oil is excellent for getting rid of mice. I told a girl at work to try some peppermint oil because she had mice in her apartment and guess what? It worked!

    Anyway, I hope the chilli powder works for the squirrels!

    Happy Monday, dear lady!

    X to you and Joe!

  5. I've heard that squirrels avoid the hot stuff, but I haven't experimented with it yet. Good luck!!

  6. Hi Jay. We have a baffle. you should see what the squirrel did to it. There are great chunks chewed out of it. Our squirrels even have a go at the wooden fence, which has nothing to do with the feeder location. That's why I am desperate!

  7. Good morning, Ron. I have made a note of your workable ideas. You never with our funny climate what will attack or at least become a nuisance. I will keep an eye on the chilli situation; have just renewed the application. I noticed that one of the bird perches has been twisted, now that can only be down to the squirrel. I can't see birds doing that.

  8. My plastic baffle has worked very well but squirrels must have a high IQ .... They FIND A WAY

  9. Wow, your squirrels have eaten the baffle?? They must be desperate or .. just hooligan vandal squirrels!

    I presume you've tried the measures advised by the RSPB ( I love the washing line threaded through a plastic bottle idea! I can just imagine Mr Squirrel doing a running-on-the-spot trick on that!

  10. Jay, I think 'hooligan' admirably fits our squirrels. Thanks for the link, which I checked on. The same advice was given by the RSPB official who came to talk to the WI ladies. Short of shotgun practice I can't think of anything else to do to deter our squirrels.


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