We're whooped

Millers - 0, Squirrels - 4

That's the score in our backyard battle over bird seed. We want the birds to have the seed. The squirrels couldn't care less what we want. So far, the squirrels have outsmarted us at every turn.

First we were hanging our homemade feeder off the side of the deck. But I noticed the squirrels would get right to the edge and swing their bodies out so that their forearms rested on the feeder plate. They'd then gorge themselves.

Then we bought a pretty feeder labeled squirrel-be-gone that even had a cute picture of a squirrel with a line through it. We bought a shepherd's hook to elevate the feeder up off the deck. It seemed to be working just fine... until we realized it was so long that the squirrels could just sit up on their haunches and munch away.

So we bought a (much cheaper) plastic no-nonsense feeder that had an extremely short cord and deep basin. Surely it was squirrel-proof, right? You know how this story ends. The too-smart squirrels went ape-poo on the deck, launching and flinging themselves from every angle until one of them smacked right into the feeder. The force of impact made the feeder swing at crazy angles and the basin detached from the top, spilling all the seed.

We made a last ditch effort at feeding birds from our deck. We bought a feeder that comes in its own cage. There is a feeder plate, but it spills barely any seed. Instead, the birds must enter the cage and eat directly from the feeder column. Fool proof! We watched the squirrels knock it from here to yonder, and it still held firm. Success at last!

Until today. When I was walking through the dining area and noticed a gray blur. I kept my eye on it as I grabbed my camera. Damn if that tree-rat didn't jump up onto the feeder, scale it like a mountain climber, and then come back down so it's head was level with the feeder plate. It then used one claw to paw and bat at the column so the seed would spill out. As I watched, it consumed at least a quarter of the seed.

What the hell. They've outsmarted us at every step. Now that they've figured out how to game this system, I guarantee you, the 10-pound bag of seed we just bought will be gone in a few days. I just can't justify spending so much money to feed something that would eat anything.

This may be the end of our delightful conversations about how the chickadees are the cutest birds ever, and how the nuthatches and tufted titmice are so playful (read: aggressive, but we can't tell the kids that), how beautiful the bluejays and cardinals are.

So I'm soliciting advice from the experts. Is there a way to beat the intelligentsia living in my backyard? The mountain man keeps caressing his bb gun but I'd rather not go full Clampett on anything (just yet). We'll try anything so suggest away!


  • Acting Balanced Mom

    Cayenne Pepper... it doesn't effect the birds, but the squirrels hate it... if you can find the liquid version, it's the easiest to mix into the feed... (bird stores usually have it), but regular ground pepper works too... It won't prevent the squirrels from getting on the feeder, but it will keep them from completely obliterating the feed.

  • Katie Jones

    My mother-in-law is obsessed with this struggle - she has tried everything imaginable from cheap to expensive to keep the squirrels out of her birdseed. Her solution at this point is the pellet gun, but I'll say that the squirrels are not smart enough to learn from their fallen comrades. So, they keep coming back even after she's taken down their friends. She jokes that she's going to hang their skins out on her fence as a warning!

    The squirrels decimate the birdseed in the feeders on our deck. Two things that we did that sort of worked were - we put out two feeders (one on each corner of the deck). One was JUST birdseed - no corn or sunflower seeds, because I noticed that was what the squirrels were going after, and they were just raking the seed onto the deck floor to get to the corn and sunflowers. In the other feeder, we put just corn and designated that as the squirrel feeder. That did work - as long as the squirrels' was full, but the squirrels emptied their feeder daily. The other semi-solution was to let the 14-lb squirrel terror known as our mini schnauzer out of the deck door to unleash havoc as the squirrels were going after the seed. Again, they don't learn their lesson for long, but Ginger enjoyed it.

    The solution that's worked permanently is to put a bird feeder on the corner of our front porch where no squirrels have the guts to play - I think it's too open and far from trees. That corner happens to be right outside KA's window, so she can watch the birds all she wants - and the squirrels have never touched it. Maybe you could find a spot like that around your place.

  • liz

    It's amazing how much they can jump! I have no suggestions for you. Sorry!

  • Stacia

    Oh, those darn tree rats! My old boss used to get out her BB gun ... but probably you want to try something less, um, violent. My dad regularly engages in battle with them and likes this book: "Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels" (by Bill Adler Jr.). Maybe your local library has a copy?? Keep fighting the good fight! =>

  • Kelly

    Stacia - that book title has me rolling! I'm on the hunt for it!

  • Dalia - Gen X Mom

    The squirrels and the chipmunks in my yard make me crazy! Wish I had a suggestion but I will keep checking to see if anyone else does!

  • ShannonL

    "Go full Clampett" Ha Ha - that is hilarious!

    Sorry, no advice here, but good luck! :-)

  • TKW

    Those are some rocket-powered squirrels! Those little varmints! We had ruthless squirrels growing up, but never could get rid of them. I hope someone knows what to do!

  • Kristen @ Motherese

    No words of wisdom here - my own struggles continue! - but very grateful for these suggestions. And yes, the title of the book Stacia mentioned made me laugh out loud!

  • gwenschott

    Two words ... Yankee Flipper. It's not cheap, but ... well, just watch this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8YZIhlWpS0&feature=youtube_gdata

  • Kelly

    Gwen - that video is awesome! Watching the squirrels fly off made me really, really happy. :)

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