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Defend Your Bird Feeder and Send Squirrels Packing
by Press Release
October 22, 2008

The Birds are back …and unfortunately so are the squirrels. There are few sights that ignite as much frustration in the hearts of bird-lovers as a squirrel’s bushy tail bobbing happily in the bird feeder. Serious birders and casual bird lovers alike know that when the squirrels move in there’s not often much left for the birds.

It is possible, however, to provide for your feathered friends and send the squirrels packing. With the right seed mix and some nature-friendly squirrel control tactics you might just be able to win the age old battle of the birds and the squirrels, and keep everyone happy in your backyard habitat.

The first step is to draw the birds to your back yard. Next, provide alternatives or deterrents to convince squirrels to stay out of the bird feeder. Here are some steps for doing just that:

Start with the Right Seed

Birds, like people, are selective – even picky – when it comes to food. To attract the most birds to your feeder, buy the best seed possible. Many commercial feed mixes contain cheap filler seeds like red milo that most songbirds just don’t like. They’ll sort through the undesirable mix to get to the “good stuff” – and leave the rest in the feeder or on the ground. What the birds won’t eat, the squirrels will love, so reducing the waste will help reduce your feeder’s appeal for squirrels.

Some bird feed manufacturers now offer natural seed mixes. Cole’s Wild Bird Products, based in Georgia, offers birds select natural seed choices specially formulated just for them. According to the company’s spokesperson, Elaine Cole, their feed is comprised of top-of-the-crop seeds pulled from the top 1 to 2 percent of every crop. The complete line of wild bird feed was developed and based on factual research about what birds really eat.

Finally, select seed mixes that attract specific types of birds. A good mix will contain seeds that appeal to bright favorites like goldfinches, woodpeckers, cardinals and bluebirds, as well as colorful migrating species.

Birds are like people; give them what they like to eat and they'll keep coming back - and they’ll bring their friends. For more information on birdseed myths and feeding, http://www.coleswildbird.com/facts-and-fiction.php

On to the Squirrels

Squirrels need not be an inevitable element of bird feeding. Love them or loathe them, most birders agree they don’t want squirrels in the feeder, where they can damage the feeder itself and devour seed meant for the birds.

One alternative is to stock your feeder with a seed that the birds will love, but squirrels will hate. “Squirrels will eat just about anything you put out for birds … but they won’t like Cole’s Hot Meats,” says Cole. It’s a patented blend of top quality sunflower meats infused with an exclusive Habanero chili pepper and Safflower oil that birds find delicious but squirrels simply hate. “The blend is a safe, effective and a humane way to feed the birds and not the squirrels,” she says

Another option is to serve the squirrels something they’ll find even more appealing than bird seed. It is possible to enjoy both the squirrels and the birds in your back yard if you lure them away from the feeder. Squirrels love whole, dried corn-on-the-cob, loose dried corn and Critter Munchies, a blend of whole yellow corn, striped sunflower, peanuts in the shell, black oil sunflower and raw peanuts. Provide alternatives to the squirrels on an open platform style feeder, and hopefully squirrels will be less of a problem at the bird feeding station.

Finally, if you just can’t stand the bushy-tailed pests in your back yard, consider an organic solution that sends them packing safely and effectively. Messina Wildlife Management’s Squirrel Stopper is an OMRI certified 100 percent organic animal repellent. Easily applied in a ready-to-use spray bottle, it dries clear, has a pleasant aroma and works for 30 days before reapplication is needed, no matter the weather. Spray it around your feeder and the squirrels will stay clear. It won’t harm the squirrels or the birds. For information of Squirrel Stopper, and the full line of Messina’s pest repellents visit: www.messinawildlife.com.

Bird Seed Myths

Fiction: White Millet is a cheap filler seed

Fact: White Proso Millet is the number one choice of many ground-feeding birds like towhees, song sparrows, juncos, and buntings. The problem is that most commercial mixes contain more millet than anything else – a definite negative when put in a tubular or wooden feeder where perch feeding birds are looking for oil sunflower. If all a sunflower-loving bird finds in a feeder is millet, it will tire of kicking out the millet and move on, leaving you with a feeder full of uneaten seed.

A good mix will contain just enough millet for the ground feeders to benefit from the perch feeders’ habit of kicking out the seeds they don’t like, but not so much that the perch feeders will become discouraged. That way you attract a greater variety of wild birds both on and below the feeder. So, bottom line – a little millet is good, a lot of millet is bad.

Fiction: There are many "no waste, no mess" birdseed mixes available

Fact: The only true “no waste” seed is sunflower meats (a.k.a. hulled sunflower). “No waste” means that the birds eat every part of the seed or mix so that there is nothing left over or “wasted”. So, any seed that has a shell, or any mix that contains seeds with shells, cannot by definition be “no waste” because the birds do not eat the birdseed shells. Some companies market their mixes as no waste/no mess products even though they contain Safflower (which has a shell), or Niger (also has a shell), or even Oil sunflower (complete with shell of course). Beware of these misleading advertisements or you’re sure to be disappointed when you have to clean up the leftovers.

Fiction: Wild birds need vitamin and mineral supplements added to their birdseed to help them survive

Fact: Most wild birds eat from a wide variety of food sources (insects, berries, seeds, etc.) which guarantees they get all the vitamins and minerals they need naturally. As long as your birdseed is fresh, high quality stuff like your feathered friends are sure to thrive.

Needless to say, real nutritional supplements are not harmful; however, the most common way for companies to add “vitamins” to their products is to simply coat it with mineral oil and add crushed rock. Current regulations allow a manufacturer to list the nutritional components of mineral oil (iron, zinc) and crushed rock (Vitamin A, calcium carbonate) separately, which can make the birdseed ingredients look more impressive than they really are. Adding mineral oil to birdseed also makes it look shiny and helps to hide dirt and dust, and of course the crushed rock adds weight to the final product.

Fiction: Birdseed doesn’t go bad

Fact: It is important to remember that all birdseed is perishable. Be sure and store any open product in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent the seed from drying out and little critters from finding it.

Cole’s features Nitrogen Purge Barrier Packaging to ensure seed freshness and no bugs in every unopened bag. The use the same packaging technology employed by potato chip makers and fresh vegetable farmers to keep their products fresher longer. So you will never open a bag of Cole’s wild bird seed and find dried out seeds or pesky meal moths in it.

In the off chance your birdseed gets an Indian Meal Moth (a.k.a. pantry moth) or two after you open it, it is still okay to use. A few tiny insects will not decrease the attractiveness of the seed to the birds. After all, insects are a natural part of their regular diet. If you find that these little creatures “bug” you, you can either put your seed in the freezer for 48 hours to kill them, or simply offer it up to your feathered friends in the backyard.

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