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PortWatch

April 30, 2014

Squirrel strategies

Tips, serious and not, for protecting birdfeeders

They’re vermin to some. Cunning adversaries to others. Squirrels have long been a source of fascination and frustration for gardeners and bird enthusiasts engaged in a near-constant battle to keep them away from the nuts and seeds put out for birds.

Greased poles. Loud music. Motion-activated sprinklers.

Bill Adler Jr. has heard all the strategies. And tried many of them.

The 57-year-old humor writer has been collecting tips to keep squirrels from avian meals for three decades, and recently updated his 1988 book, “Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed From Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels,” for a third edition.

The most important thing to know? While technology has changed, squirrels still have little else to do all day but strategize.

And they’re good at it.

“There’s no one technique that works for everyone,” Adler says.

Try a few different strategies, and be willing to change.

Most of all, Adler says, don’t sweat it too much.

“I have to admit, I care a little less (these days). I care in a different way,” he says of his squirrel strategy.

Squirrels still eat more from his birdfeeders than the birds do, but “I don’t mind that I personally don’t always win.

“I enjoy outwitting them, I do. But these days I win the battles and not the war.”

Here are some tips (some serious, some not) from Adler and others to bring a little harmony to your backyard:

The natural

Resigned to the fact that squirrels are going to call his Washington, D.C., yard home, Adler puts out some unsalted mixed nuts along his steps.

“If you feed them, they will tend to leave the birdfeeder alone,” he says.

Squirrels also love corn, so if you don’t want them invading your feeder, keep your birdseed corn-free.

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