Saturday, January 18

Outwitting the squirrels

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Pushy squirrels crowd out birds and can multiply so fast that they’re not just cleaning out your birdfeeder but also your garden.

The best solution is to stop luring the little rodents with all that free food: Take out the birdfeeder. You can attract a wider variety of bird species with native shrubs, trees, grasses and flowers. The squirrels will still be part of your backyard ecosystem, but not an annoying part.

In lieu of that, try some or all of these fixes.

Planning can keep squirrels from being an annoyance in your garden.

Planning can keep squirrels from being an annoyance in your garden.

Go squirrel-proof

There are fancy squirrel-proof feeders that close their doors when something as heavy as a squirrel is on board. Others, where the feeder is inside a cage, may work for you, but don’t place any large bets on it. Like their ratty cousins, squirrels can wiggle their way through surprisingly small spaces.

Dog them

Dogs can be great squirrel patrollers. Unfortunately, they’re also liable to go after birds. If you’re a good coach and your dog is a good student, you may be able to teach her that squirrels aren’t allowed in the yard but birds are.

Baffle them

Baffles, which look like upside-down cones, are worth trying. You put them on the pole below the feeder, and they stop or at least challenge the acrobatic gangs of squirrels.

Grease the pole

This works best in conjunction with a baffle. It’s free entertainment watching the squirrels slowly slide down the pole after being baffled by the baffle.

Spice the seed

Gardening websites and online birding forums and message boards suggest that squirrels don’t like cayenne whereas birds aren’t affected by it.

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