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Squirrel Feeders

Question:

I enjoy feeding the birds that visit my garden, but I am having a problem with squirrels eating all the birdseed. I don't want to harm the squirrels but they are a nuisance. What is a friendly way to keep them at bay?

Answer:

I think we have all experienced the frustration of squirrels raiding our bird feeders. There are a lot of squirrel proof feeders on the market and plenty of gadgets you can use to confuse the little critters. But, perhaps a kinder way to draw their attention away from the birds' food is to give them some food of their own.

More and more, people have taken to providing a special place in their garden, separate from their bird feeders, to address the needs of squirrels. After all, in the middle of winter, when there's not much food around, the squirrels have to eat too. And they can be as much fun to watch as your birds.

There are a variety of squirrel feeders available that will keep them well fed and entertained. Most have devices to hold ears of corn, a favorite of squirrels. Some look like miniature Ferris-wheels while others with more elaborate designs can look like an airplane. It's amazing the acrobatics squirrels go through for just a nibble.

Other feeders allow squirrels their own source of sunflower seeds. They love them just as much as the birds do. And by using sunflower seed feeders designed especially for squirrels, you keep them out of the bird food and provide a safe, sheltered place to eat.

If you start feeding the squirrels, you need to know they can be big eaters. One squirrel can finish off an ear of corn in a day. So whatever you feed them, make sure you have plenty on hand because they do come back for more.

Because they have such a large appetite, setting up a squirrel feeding station will not necessarily guarantee keeping them away from your bird feeders. I suggest that you use a squirrel proof bird feeder in combination with a squirrel feeder. I have recently come across bird feeders with motor driven, rotating perches that are activated by the weight of the squirrel. Visit Droll Yankees' website to check them out at www.drollyankees.com.

And here's another tip, when you feed squirrels in the winter you will keep them out of your bird feeder, but if you continue to feed them in the summer you will also keep them out of your garden.