: I couldn't beat them, so I feed them!

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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jul 16, 2014 7:56 PM CST
Ken,

You may not agree with my comments ....

I couldn't win to discourage them from my bird feeders, so .....

I've made peace with the squirrels that come into my yard. I have no qualms with them anymore. Now I feed them. I do have a squirrel guard around my bird feeder post which does discourage most of them from even trying to get to the hanging bird feeders, but there is always 1 squirrel that is smart or persistent enough to still get to the bird feeders.

I feed the birds AND the squirrels. Every morning I put sunflower seeds in the 2 hanging bird feeders for the birds and also sunflower seeds with some squirrel corn food in 2 large plastic saucers that sit on the ground right below the hanging bird feeders. I get anywhere from 6 to 18 squirrels at times. I've seen squirrels in all kinds of shape ..... Some with no tails, some with a missing limb, some that are partially blind, some that actually wait for me each morning and if I don't come out on time climb up the screen of my porch and chatter loudly until I do ! Most all of them do not bother the bird feeders. Right now I just have one male squirrel who insists on getting into the bird feeder, but I run him off when I see him doing that. I think he is the alpha male, who is trying to make a point because he will sit there in the hanging feeder staring at me until I am almost upon him before he leaps out and takes off! I honestly believe it is a game of playing "chicken" for him! Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious!

The birds and squirrels are out there every morning on time! And if I don't go out on time to feed them, they all make a ruckus. (Especially the bluejays and the squirrels!) They are hungry and they are quick to remind me! I can never sleep in because of the noise! LOL! I also feed them a handful of unsalted boiled shelled peanuts which all the wildlife love. (I use boiled because if they bury them, I don't want peanut plants growing all over my yard and garden beds!) They don't bother the birds and the birds don't bother them. I have seen them all eating together on the ground. The only real threat are the Red-shouldered hawks. The hawks do not discriminate .... they will go after any of the squirrels or birds. Luckily, when a hawk is close by, the bluejays and the squirrels start sounding the alarm to warn all the wildlife in the area! I always know when the hawk is nearby.

For the most part, we all live in peace and acceptance with very few problems. I have not had any real squirrel damage in my yard or garden beds. I even have what appears to be a bluejay nest and 2 squirrel nests in the large Oak tree in my backyard not too far from the feeding station. Apparently my yard has become a wildlife habitat for more than the intended butterflies and hummingbirds! And to tell you the truth .... I'm cool with that! Thumbs up

BUT ..... If you mention "raccoons" .... you will NOT get a smile from me! That is another story and I've learned how to discourage them from coming into my yard. Those bandits can do an amazing amount of damage to my water garden containers and to my garden beds. I'll take squirrels any day of the year over raccoons! Sticking tongue out

What motivated me to accept the squirrels is that I know they were here first but with all the development going on, humans are running them off with nowhere to go! So they now have a place in my yard. Smiling
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
[Last edited by beckygardener - Jul 17, 2014 1:56 PM (+)]
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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jul 16, 2014 8:42 PM CST
http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/scrap_th... Says the following in the article-

A 2004 study of grey squirrels who were live-trapped and relocated from suburban areas to a large forest showed that a staggering 97 percent of the squirrels either soon died or disappeared from their release area.
Relocating is a bad idea for many animals because they are unable to adapt to the new area quickly enough to survive. Most of them are killed by predators or starve/dehydrate. The den is gone, their food supply is gone, they don't know where to find water, ect. It would be like taking a person from one city to another and simply dumping them out with nothing. Everything known to them is suddenly gone.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jul 16, 2014 9:08 PM CST
Frillylily - Hmmmm .... That was a very interesting article. I had no idea that relocating them would likely be a death sentence. Thanks for posting that link. I learned something new today about wildlife.

I have never tried to relocate an animal. The only sure way to discourage them from coming into your yard is to remove what they are coming in for. If it is food, remove the food. In the case of bothersome raccoons, I have to cover my water containers at night and take down the hanging bird feeders. It works! And if it is squirrels, take down the bird feeders (or feed them, too)!

If there is something trying to build a nest somewhere in my yard and I don't want that issue, I typically knock the nest apart with a broom before it is completed. But make sure there are no babies in it first.

Mainly, I just accept them and go about my business. I do think the wildlife adds more interest to my garden.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Heucheras Echinacea
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NJBob
Jul 16, 2014 9:29 PM CST
Try mixing red pepper flakes in your seed and get the suet with hot pepper in it. It keeps the squirrels out and does not hurt the birds at all.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jul 17, 2014 6:10 AM CST
Ken - THANK YOU for this article! Your reaction to animal pests is a very common reaction by most homeowners. You were trying to help by not killing the squirrels but instead removing them from your yard. I have gotten an education because of this article. I did not know about the information that was posted in the link that Frillylily posted. Thanks to Frillylily, too, for posting the link!

It now makes sense to me about an incident at the school I work at. A raccoon got caught during the late afternoon inside the gated area and couldn't escape because the metal gate had been locked which totally encloses the courtyard of the school up to the ceilings of the buildings. The custodians probably had the gate open as they working and the raccoon smelled the food in the outdoor trash cans. Well, Animal Control was called and the poor little raccoon was caught in a live trap. Most everyone in the school was concerned about this raccoon. I happened to be out in the courtyard when the raccoon was removed and I asked the Animal Control officer if it was going to be relocated and released. He said that was not likely. That it would be destroyed. I was very upset and so were most of the people and students that heard. Now I understand why they had to destroy it. It was heartbreaking to all of us because we just didn't know. I will be sure to educate as many as I can now that I know!

It's just too bad the people at the school didn't just leave the raccoon alone until it left on it's own once the gates were opened. It broke everyone's heart to know the animal had to be destroyed. Crying
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jul 17, 2014 7:36 AM CST
We have lots of squirrels around here, I bet every live oak and elm tree (as well as many other types) have a few squirrel nests in the branches! One year I counted 23 squirrels in the backyard all at the same time; some in the feeders and others scavenging on the ground beneath, and there were many squirrels at feeders in my neighbors yard as well. I know many folks who really detest squirrel's and I've heard some people say that they shoot them! Grumbling

Over the years I've come to like the squirrels and I get a kick out of watching their antics. When it comes to wildlife I've learned to live and let live. I figure all critters have their place on this earth and although for a long time I had a love/hate relationship with squirrels and I'd get very aggravated when they'd empty the bird feeders so quickly, eat the blooms from my orchids and bury peanuts in the garden (which would produce little peanut plants popping up everywhere) I still can't imagine hurting them. I figure they are as much a part of nature as any other critter and I know that there wouldn't be as many squirrels around my property if I didn't put seed, nuts and fruit out for the birds. I can't expect squirrels to pass up a free smorgasbord after all. Smiling I don't hang many orchids in the trees anymore, and now after reading Becky's tip I will only put boiled peanuts in the feeders ... but the squirrels will remain.

Becky: Thanks for the boiled peanut tip! Thumbs up
Frillylily: Thank you so much for the link to that very informative article! Thumbs up


Thumb of 2014-07-17/plantladylin/294b80

~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jul 17, 2014 12:02 PM CST
Lin - Just make sure the boiled peanuts are UNsalted. You don't want to give the squirrels hypertension if they are salted, boiled peanuts! LOL!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jul 17, 2014 12:58 PM CST
Becky - Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jul 17, 2014 2:09 PM CST
I do not have a lot of experience with euthanizing animals only a few that the vet did, pets. I will say I was really surprised at how fast it was and expected at least some suffering but honestly, it just wasn't there. It was very quick. I was rather relieved. I would much rather see animals euthanized than caged up permanently or dumped out some where to starve. A lot of people around here dump cats and dogs. It is better to put them down than dump them. They are hungry, thirsty, cold, full of fleas and worms and then they either get hit by a car or ate by a predator. Not a good way to live Sad
I think people have good intentions to relocate an animal as a resolve to 'fix' both sides and not kill it. But it is not in the animal's best interest.

I have a lot of squirrels here, and I plant to rake the yard up diligently in the fall as soon as the nuts come off. That will help I hope to detour them from hanging out here. The yard was abandoned for several years and I am sure the squirrels loved that. But by keeping it up now and raking, I hope to slow them down.

There are other links too, just Google -relocating wild animals or something similar.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jul 17, 2014 8:17 PM CST
I want to add a comment ....

I enjoy the squirrels. My whole reason for gardening is for the wildlife. Particularly the hummingbirds and butterflies. I've tried growing veggies for me and my family, but the heat and bugs are a battle for such plants, unless it is during the warmest times of winter when the insect population is down. But I really prefer gardening to attract the critters more than any other reason.

I video-taped my bird/squirrel feeding station this morning by setting up my old video camera on a tripod. I can't see the ground area as easily anymore because of all the plants partially blocking my view from the windows inside my house. The mosquitoes are so bad currently that I can hardly even go outside without getting swarmed. Normally, I would just sit out there quietly and observe, but we've had a lot of rain so the mosquito population has exploded ... it's pretty miserable to be outside if you are a warm-blooded mammal.

I wanted to see the squirrels. I had 5 or 6 come to the large saucers on the ground that I fill with sunflower seeds, corn, and a few peanuts. I also fill up the hanging bird feeders with sunflowers and peanuts. Do you know that all the squirrels were well-behaved, but the birds were not. The birds have a hanging platform feeder that I actually add more peanuts and sunflower seeds in than I do the saucers on the ground. Did the birds go to the hanging feeder? NO! They instead were eating the few peanuts that I left in the saucers for the squirrels. And after they ate most of the squirrel's peanuts (the squirrels did manage to get some peanuts), then they went to the hanging platform "bird" feeder to eat their own peanuts. The squirrels never even tried to chase the birds off, but instead ate peacefully next to them. I was so mad at the birds! It was bluejays and grackles. I had no idea they were doing that until I caught it on video. So ... just goes to show that squirrels don't intentionally go to feeders to steal from the birds. They go to the feeders because they are hungry and it's an easy food source.

And the little bit of digging they sometimes do in my yard/garden beds is not even worth noting compared to the HUGE holes that the armadillos dig and moles tunneling all over my yard. But hey! That's nature for you! Gotta love it! Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
[Last edited by beckygardener - Jul 17, 2014 8:28 PM (+)]
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Name: Linnea
Southern Maine, border 5b/6a (Zone 5b)
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Linneaj
Jul 18, 2014 6:50 AM CST
We have a huge Hickory tree. I love watching the squirrels get the husks off the nuts. It would take us all day with power tools to get those green husks off, but the squirrels can do it in seconds!

This July the neighbor cut down a lot of junk Norway Maples that had nests in them. The squirrels are extremely disgruntled. I am going to leave them a pile of sunflower seeds up high somewhere so the cat can't pounce easily.

My aunt told me to keep fat squirrels so we can eat them if we are ever hungry. They are emergency food.
Don't make fear based decisions.

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