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Squirrels can drive a backyard bird watcher a bit crazy. How can you keep squirrels from eating all the seed in your bird feeders? You might wonder if the solution is a seed squirrels won’t eat. Well, there is one seed, but it attracts a very limited variety of birds. I do have a better suggestion though.
First, A Seed Squirrels Don’t Eat?
In my yard, squirrels seem completely indifferent to nyjer seed. This is the one seed that squirrels don’t eat here. I don’t have to baffle the nyjer feeders. And even if I sprinkle some on the ground for sparrows, the squirrels don’t eat this seed.
Now, all creatures are different. So it is possible that squirrels in your yard might eat it. But I’ve never heard of a squirrel eating nyjer seed.
Why Not Fill All Feeders With Nyjer?
I have four feeders filled with nyjer. American Goldfinches love it. Other finches like House Finches and Purple Finches eat nyjer too. Pine Siskins will eat it and if you sprinkle it on the ground, some sparrows will eat it. (These include Dark-Eyed Juncos, White-Throated Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows.)
The trouble with nyjer is that lots of other backyard birds don’t eat it. If you are okay with feeding a limited group of birds, this might be your solution. But if you want see a wider variety at your feeders, it’s not going to do it for you. (See my post on How to Choose Birdseed For Backyard Birds for an idea of which birds eat what.)
What About Safflower Seed?
You may have been told that squirrels won’t eat safflower seed. It’s true that safflower is not most squirrels’ favorite food. But if that is what is available, squirrels will eat safflower.
The squirrels in my yard have been eating it very willingly for years. Generations of squirrels have grown up eating safflower seed, so they don’t even hesitate. They prefer sunflower or peanuts but if safflower is in reach, they’ll take it.
Again, all creatures are different. The squirrels in your yard may shun safflower seed. But I suspect that if you give them enough time and they can’t get anything else, they will eventually eat it. So it might be a temporary solution at best.
Do Squirrels Eat Other Bird Foods?
Yes. Squirrels will eat suet for example. They don’t like hot pepper flavored suet, but if there is nothing else to eat, they’ll eat that too.
Squirrels will also eat dried mealworms. I’m not sure about live ones since I’ve never offered them. But if I put dried mealworms out on the ground or in a ground feeder, a squirrel will come and snap them up.
I’ve never seen squirrels interested in the sugar-water mixture I put out for hummingbirds. But most birds don’t drink that either.
An Alternative Squirrel Solution
So what is the solution? Trying to offer birds something squirrels don’t eat is just setting yourself up for frustration. The trick is instead to keep squirrels away from seed and other bird food.
Hang your feeder from a pole (or mount it on a pole) and baffle it correctly. Position it so squirrels can’t jump over to it or reach out to the feeder.
Or if you hang your feeder from a tree branch, baffle it correctly and position it so a squirrels can’t jump to or reach to the feeder. And/or get yourself a Squirrel Buster Plus or Squirrel Buster Classic feeder and position them correctly. If you need to choose a hanging baffle, see my post on Best Hanging Squirrel Baffle. Also see Keep Squirrels Out of Feeders.
If you set up feeders, poles and baffles correctly, you can keep squirrels out. When mulling the expense of poles, baffles and/or better squirrel proof feeders, consider savings on seed. You’ll be glad that you made the investment.
What do squirrels eat in your yard?
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