Are furry visitors raiding your bird feeder?
Squirrels, raccoons and bears can find birdseed a ready and tempting appetizer as they forage for food. With a few tips, you can critter-proof your bird feeding area and preserve seed for our avian friends
A fellow backyard birder in Ham Lake, Minnesota mentioned that he noticed his birdseed consumption was at an all-time high this summer. Each morning he filled the feeder full only to find it empty the next day. A nighttime stake out revealed a rascally raccoon scrambling down a nearby branch to dump the contents of the feeder into its mouth. Simple solution: check the location of your feeder. Nearby bush or tree branches can make feeders accessible. Raccoons are known to not just sample the bird food but devour it in one sitting.
Grease the skids
Once he remedied the raccoon situation, our Ham Lake birder still had squirrels raiding seed. You can buy squirrel-proof feeders but those acrobats often persist. Try wrapping tin foil around the pole, making it difficult for critters to climb. Or grease the pole (petroleum jelly lasts longer) to create a slippery surface causing no harm to critters but may provide entertainment.
Remove feeders at night or in spring
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports “bears are attracted to homes and cabins by garbage and bird feeders” and that “pet food, charcoal grills, fruit trees and gardens can also attract bears.” Depending on where you live, some experts advise completely removing outdoor feeders in spring after bear hibernation ends. If you opt to continue summer bird feeding, consider removing feeders at night, especially those containing hummingbird nectar. Any type of food scraps or pet food will attract bears, so it is important to store seed indoors and follow tips to protect your seed supply against heat and humidity.