Discouraging Unusual Intruders

Raccoon photo by Skip Russell

Squirrels trying to access bird feeders are a common sight at backyard bird feeders. Occasionally other intruders, like raccoons, cats, or even rats, take an interest in the birdseed. Here are some tips to discourage unwelcomed visitors to your backyard feeding stations . . .

Raccoons
Raccoons can be cute but if encouraged, they can become a real nuisance and even a danger to pets. To reduce their visits:

* Prevent access to feeders – use a baffle on pole feeders and trees to prohibit access.
* Avoid attracting them – don’t intentionally feed raccoons, feed pets inside, secure your garbage can and compost bin lids, pick up fallen birdseed regularly, and pick up fruit that falls
from you fruit trees.
* Frighten them away – try the ScareCrow, a battery-operated, motion-activated sprinkler that sends a burst of water at offending wildlife.
* Try a Yard Guard – The Yard Guard is an electronic motion-activated devise that can be programmed to emit a high-pitched sound unpleasant for a variety of animals including raccoons, yet not audible to humans.

Rats and Mice
An unfortunate reality in many urban and suburban areas, rats and mice can be unwelcome guests at our feeders. Here are some tips for keeping them away:

* Baffle ‘Em too – like squirrels rats are good climbers and jumpers, so follow the Baffle ‘Em advice in the squirrel section.
* Minimize feeder spillage – use a tray or seed catcher to catch seed that birds toss from feeders.
* Rake or sweep – don’t allow excessive accumulation of bird seed below your feeders.
* Spice Things Up – feed birds seed treated with hot chili oil. Squirrels are not the only rodent repelled by spicy hot food.
* Store seed in metal containers – rats and mice can and will chew through plastic containers.
* Bring feeders in at night – many rats are nocturnal and feed more actively at night.

Cats
Cats make wonderful pets but they are also suburb hunters and pose a real danger to backyard birds. If cats are intruding in your backyard wildlife sanctuary:

* Block their approach – place thorny rose or berry clippings in their path or in areas you see them stalking birds.
* Eliminate cat hiding spots – keep bird feeding and bathing areas clear of plants and other objects that might provide hiding spots for bird-stalking cats.
*Try a Yard Guard  – The Yard Guard is an electronic motion-activated devise that can be programmed to emit a high-pitched sound unpleasant for a variety of animals including cats, yet not audible to humans.