Are squirrels hogging all of that seed you so considerately put out for the neighborhood birds? Are you tired of watching them steal—so brazenly!—what is not rightfully theirs while the local blue jays and red-winged blackbirds watch from a safe distance? Rude. To alleviate this problem, all you have to do is spice that bird food up a bit.
Reddit user u/kaganey explains:
Anyone who has a bird feeder has had to deal with the squirrels stealing the seeds. However, squirrels hate chile [peppers]. Birds, on the other hand, can’t sense it at all and regularly eat chiles and pepper seeds in the wild. If you mix powdered cayenne with your birdseed, the birds won’t know the difference while the squirrels will avoid it like the plague.
Upon further investigation, it seems as though this does actually work—on most squirrels (there are a few freaks out there who prefer it spicy). You don’t need a lot—I read a suggestion for a tablespoon or so for each 10-pound bag of seed.
It can wash off in the rain, though, so if there’s a storm and you notice afteward that the squirrels are suddenly back at their old antics, you may need a little reapplication—just don’t try to add cayenne to the stuff that’s already outside if it’s windy, because ouch.
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Or you could stick the feeder up on a pole (squirrels will probably still climb it) and then, as our very own Senior Health Editor Beth Skwarecki suggests, spray it with PAM. If nothing else, the results are hilarious. See, as an illustrative example, this YouTube video:
You’ll need to reapply that after it rains, too.
Or maybe you like the squirrels, I don’t know. In that case, just let them keep eating the food; that’s up to you.