It’s better not to let squirrels dine at your bird feeder
DEAR JOAN » After reading the latest solution to keeping squirrels out of the bird feeder — WD-40— I have a better idea. Just let them eat it. Unless you tell me it’s harmful, it’s no big deal. — Nancy Draughon, Mobile, Alabama
DEAR NANCY » This is a subject that is not quite as simple as it sounds. Generally speaking, birdseed is not harmful to squirrels, but there are some folks who want to feed the birds, not the squirrels, and seeing the squirrels swinging from feeders, spilling seed and chasing away the birds is too much for them.
These folks are so protective of their bird feeders that an industry in antisquirrel bird seed (it has capcaisin mixed in with it) and squirrel-proof feeders and devices is thriving.
As much as I love watching the squirrels scampering around and thoroughly confounding my little Chihuahua, there are valid reasons people don’t want them around. Squirrels can do some damage to your property. They can chew on irrigation lines, gnaw on decks and open holes into your attic. They also tend to bury their surplus food, which can disturb your plants when the food goes in and when it comes out, if the squirrel remembers where it hid it.
One year, we put out some dried corn for the squirrel visiting in our yard, and the next spring I had corn popping up in all of my planters and pots.
As long as you welcome the squirrels and their nuttiness, and as long as you aren’t trying to feed them by hand, then no, there’s no harm in letting the squirrels share the bird feeders.
However, not all bird food is the best for squirrels. Their optimum diet is a mixture of nuts, fruits and vegetables. Squirrels love black oil sunflower seeds, so if you don’t want them in your yard, avoid blends with sunflower seeds.
Squirrels also love nuts in the shell, which are important to them in two ways. One, the fatty nut inside is good for the squirrel, and two, gnawing on the shell to get it open helps keep the squirrel’s teeth from growing too long, and should also reduce their need to find alternate chewing surfaces, such as your house.
Foods you shouldn’t put out for squirrels are corn and peanuts. Shocking, right? Corn can develop a harmful fungus, especially if it is rained on. And pea- nuts are not nuts — they’re legumes, and too many legumes is not good for the squirrel.
What’s in a name?
I always enjoy seeing the list of popular pet names. Here’s a list from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Is your pet’s name on it? My male dog’s name — Bailey — made it on the female list. MALEDOGS» Cooper; Charlie; Max; Oliver; Milo; Teddy; Buddy; Leo; Rocky; Tucker FEMALEDOGS» Bella; Luna; Lucy; Daisy; Lola; Stella; Penny; Bailey; Sadie; Sophie MALECATS» Oliver; Milo; Leo; Charlie; Max; Loki; Simba; Jack; Finn; Oscar FEMALECATS» Luna; Bella; Lucy; Lily; Nala; Mia; Chloe; Daisy; Gracie; Stella TOP10UNIQUENAMES» Izzy Baby Bella Floofcaboose von Carpetmoose; Reginald Periwinkle Esquire III, Esquire; The Great Catsby; Zena Princess Warrior of the Sagebrush; Ziggy the Zag; Annie Guacamole; Jawslin; Agent Cooper Pooper Scooper; Google; Punky Hopter