Squirrel Wars

I have been in a constant brutal struggle. After years of scheming and planning; after countless hand crafted stealth devices I finally, a couple years ago, threw in the towel. I was humiliated in defeat. I surrendered to the will of a superior being. I gave up trying to keep squirrels out of my bird feeder. I would fill the feeder and cast seed on the deck. At least birds might get some of the seed left over from the overstuffed squirrels strutting with overconfidence like Ramadès retuning to Thebes. Their cheeks stuffed with the spoils of victory.

But, perhaps the battle isn’t over. Was it Yogi Berra that said “The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings”? Well this fat guy hasn’t sung his last song.

Recently I was reading an article: “What Makes Us Love the Pain of Hot Peppers? Matt Siegel WSJ Aug 28, 2021”. The article suggested that capsaicin (the stuff that makes chili hot) is a plant defense mechanism. Mammals chew seeds making them useless for plant reproduction; hince mammals do not tolerate capsaicin. Birds, on the other hand, pass seeds through their bodies allowing germination of the seeds. Birds tolerate capsaicin.

African farmers sometimes construct bricks of elephant dung and chilis. They burn the bricks the keep animals from eating their crops.

I could not find much elephant dung in West Hartford. Besides, there is an ordinance against open fires. But I do have cayenne pepper. I sprinkled a little on the birdseed. The birds eat the seeds and I don’t see any squirrels.

In truth, this is a well know cure for my squirrel issue, I just was not aware of it.

Experiment

I noticed that the treated birdseed did not attracted many birds. True, it kept the squirrels away but there were few birds. Usually I note a lot of birds and that the feeder empties in a relatively short time. So, it is time for an experiment. I have put out four piles of seed:

  1. My control with no addition
  2. With red pepper flakes
  3. With Tabasco added
  4. With Cayenne added

Six hours later and neither bird nor squirrel has visited the seed. I will change the location to a place that birds and squirrels congregate.

Same order left to right
24 Hours later
And there are larger birdseed raiders

I have noted a number of birds at work on the piles of seed. I have only seen one interloper, a chipmunk was into the cayenne spiked pile. I do not see a clear preference for any particular pile. However, there seems to be a slight preference for the non spiked pile. Second, I would guess to be the pepper flakes followed by the Tabasco then the cayenne.

Going forward, I will lace the birdseed with pepper flakes. I wonder if bears are put off by capsaicin.

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