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Spice up your bird food to deter pesky squirrels

Last modified: 12 November 2008

Grey squirrel on garden lawn

Fed up with filling your bird feeder and seeing a cheeky grey squirrel help itself? Well the RSPB has a spicy answer to your problem.

Chilli powder is a safe and effective way of ensuring that only the intended recipients of bird seed get the food.

The RSPB is suggesting that gardeners dust a small amount of the pungent powder over seed and suet mixes in feeders and on tables as it will deter thieving squirrels whilst not affecting birds’ feeding habits.

An effective solution

Lloyd Scott, RSPB Wildlife Adviser says: 'Using chilli powder to deter squirrels, is a cheap, easy and effective solution.

'Feeding garden birds is a popular – and vital – pastime in the UK and the RSPB gets thousands of calls each year from frustrated gardeners asking how to stop squirrels eating all their bird seed.

'Squirrels can consume large amounts of peanuts and seeds and quite frequently destroy bird feeders in the process.

'Chilli powder will stop them helping themselves but doesn’t seem to have any effect on birds at all. This is much simpler than erecting barriers and trying to prevent access to feeders for squirrels – they are nimble, clever animals and will usually find a way in anyway!'

Recipe for success

Make sure seed mixes are thoroughly coated but not hidden in the powder. Put the powder in a bag with the seed mix and shake it up so as to avoid any potential problems and aggravation associated with free flying powder effecting birds eyes or skin. Other kitchen deterrents include curry powder, Tabasco, peri-peri sauce, red pepper and Cayenne pepper.

How you can help

If you want to help the birds twice over by knowing you’re feeding top quality foods and using products overseen by our experts, RSPB Bird Care is for you.

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