I must admit they do amuse us with their silly antics and crazy contortions while they are attempting to completely empty the birdseed from our various bird feeders; but enough is enough! It gets expensive when they can empty the feeders in just a few hours!
I heard this on Andre's radio show one Saturday. A gentleman called in describing a beautiful pansy bed he had that was being decimated by squirrels. He had heard that peppermint oil would discourage them, but having no peppermint oil, he decided to try using some old candy canes he had leftover from Christmas. He stuck them in the ground and lo and behold, the squirrels stopped digging in his bed and eating all his pansy flowers!
Well, I had been meaning to try this trick somehow with my bird feeders but never seemed to have any candy canes around when I thought about it. It wasn't until I was at my parent's home in Vermont this Christmas watching three or four squirrels gobble up all their sunflower seeds that I happened to ask Mom if she had any candy canes - which she did being that it was Christmas and all.
I unwrapped two candy canes and hung them off the wire cage that surrounds their feeder. I also put a few broken pieces on the tray at the base of the feeder and on the deck railing. Then we went inside to watch - it wasn't long before those silly squirrels came back. They were completely flummoxed! They sniffed around, jumped broadly over the pieces on the railing, and ran away. Soon, they were back again, but still gave a wide berth to the broken pieces on the railing, looked up at the feeder longingly, and ran away again! Eventually, one of them chased another along the railing and knocked those pieces off; but the pieces hanging on the feeder remained and definitely kept them from eating anymore seed.
At one point, one of the squirrels got brave and jumped on the feeder but immediately jumped off again without eating any of the seeds! Eureka!
And the birds don't mind the candy canes at all!!!! They just come and eat like they normally do; very happy, I'm sure, that there aren't any big furry bullies around to pester them and eat all their food!
I do feel sorry for the hungry squirrels, though - especially with all this snow! After studying fox and gray squirrel behavior in North Carolina for 3 years, I've developed a soft spot for them - maybe I'll leave one feeder just for them!