Beyond Squirrels: Chipmunks & 4 Other Bird Feeder Bandits
At your birdfeeder displays, you may come across customers inspecting your feeder selection for a squirrel proof feeder. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any 100% squirrel proof feeders. Those furry bandits have a lot tricks up their sleeves to get to the tasty treats inside birdfeeders.
Instead, you want to pitch countermeasures that make bird food raids difficult for squirrels. These squirrel resistant features can include baffles, cages and drop-down features.
The thing is that not every bird feeder bandit is actually a squirrel! There are a few other critters that enjoy bird seed and hummingbird nectar just as much as the birds do.
That’s why Perky-Pet® came up with this list of five other bird food burglars, and tips on what your customers can do to keep them at bay!
These amazing animals have a lot going for them – a bright mind, stealthy habits and paws that work more like hands than most animals! One of the best ways to keep raccoons away from bird feeders is to sprinkle cayenne pepper in the bird seed. The spice is simply too strong for raccoons to consume and they stay away. Birds, however, don’t mind cayenne at all.
- Bonus tips: Sprinkle the cayenne pepper on the ground around the bird feeder for added repellency. The pepper also works to keep raccoons out of garbage cans!
- Natural Raccoon Food: Insects, rodents, frogs, eggs, crayfish, fruit, plants, nuts and berries.
Black Bears have made a big comeback in North America thanks to amazing conservation efforts. More bears means more opportunity for these creatures to come in contact with humans and the things people love, which includes bird feeders.
Black Bears will eagerly pull down feeders and eat the seed inside. They even enjoy lapping up the nectar from hummingbird and oriole feeders. While it’s hard to stop a bear from doing what it wants to do, tell your customers they can often protect their feeders by suspending the feeder from a line out of the bear’s reach, normally 6 feet or higher. When the feeder is at the right height, the line can be anchored by tying it to a tree. The feeder can be refilled by lowering and raising it with the anchor line.
- Bonus Tips: Bears are highly attracted to garbage cans. Seal garbage cans inside a shed or garage. Only set them outside on the day of trash pickup.
- Natural Bear Food: Grass, berries, roots and insects. They will also catch live animals, including fish and mammals, and eat carrion.
These little rodents have much the same diet as squirrels do, so it’s not surprising to see them on bird feeders. In fact, they are probably the most common bird feeder bandit after squirrels. To keep chipmunks away, mount bird feeders on tall, smooth poles that chipmunks can’t climb. There’s another way to thwart chipmunks (and squirrels), add a baffle above or below the bird feeder — they’ll slip off it before they reach your bird seed.
- Bonus Tips: Chipmunks live in burrows, so look for those (often very small) entrances, and seal them to prompt them to move. You can also buy Extra Small Havahart® live traps to catch and release them.
- Natural Chipmunk Food: Nuts, berries and fruit. They also regularly eat snails, insects and fungi.
These nocturnal marsupials are opportunistic eaters, meaning they’ll take a free meal wherever they can find one, and that includes seed from bird feeders. While opossums are good climbers, they will only discover a feeder when it has a lot of seed spillage to the ground. Advise your customers to do a daily cleanup of discarded seed (and any other potential food source). Seed can be scooped up with a shovel. Always advise customers to throw away any seed that falls to the ground.
Alert customers that opossums are also known to scavenge eggs from bird nests, so making a yard opossum-free should be a priority.
- Bonus Tips: Opossums are largely active at night, so one way to keep them away from bird feeders is to bring them in after sunset.
- Natural Opossum Food: Opossums will eat just about anything, including plant material, grain, carrion, garbage, pet food, bugs and snails.
The Green Anole, a lizard native to the southern U.S., can often be found at hummingbird feeders drinking nectar and snapping up bugs. They may be drinking the nectar because it provides some minerals or vitamins not available in their normal, insect-based diets. Do anoles pose any threat to hummingbirds? Not really. The lizards are too small to be any danger. We say enjoy visits from both the birds and the lizards!
- Natural Anole Food: Small insects and some grasses.