Garden Squirrels…Friend or Foe?

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When I first noticed the squirrels running across our back fence it was love at first sight. So cute, so entertaining…..so cute….so demanding…so cute….so, well, destructive! While I have heard of squirrels chewing through roof vents and wiring we haven’t had that problem. Ours just chew the heck out of the bird feeders when food doesn’t appear on their feeding trays first thing in the morning!

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They were so entertaining, that a few years ago I began to buy black oil sunflower seed in 20-50 pound bags and added feeders all around the yard. Everything was fine for about five years….but recently I read that, when well fed, squirrels tend to multiply in greater numbers with more litters per year. Funny, we do seem to have more than before, and they do seem to grow bigger. All was still well until…..

IMG_7937 web  (2)Hmmm…they’re beginning to get a little aggressive in their search for food.  I didn’t fill the feeders one morning before work and after work this is what I found! We switched to a galvanized can to store the seed after that!

In the beginning they stuck to the trays or special squirrel feeders I put out…but now they go after every bird feeder in the yard. They just ruined my $50.00 “squirrel proof” feeder! But, they are entertaining.  I mean how long would you chew on steel to get one little sunflower seed!

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They show up on time morning, noon and night to check out their feeding box and always put on a show…

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Sometimes they show up in the most unusual places…

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Gray squirrels build nests made of sticks high up in the trees.  We have at least three in the oaks surrounding our house.  One in the  oak just a few feet outside our front door….I always wanted my own oak tree but letting that particular acorn grow may cost me my house one day..a story for another blog…:) Watching the babies leap from branch to branch, none too gracefully sometimes, is a great way to start the day.  I settle in to read a  devotion and enjoy  a cup of coffee every morning and share the beginning of the day with them…

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Food and Water

While the squirrels will raid any food left out for birds, they seem to prefer black oil sunflower seed.  It’s less expensive to buy a 50 lb. bag at a feed store than 10 or 20 pound bags at retail stores. The seeds seldom sprout causing a mess like bird seed and if they do, you get a beautiful flower so it’s all good! It’s essential to have fresh water available for birds and squirrels along with shrubbery for them to hide from predators.

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Nature TV

Children are fascinated by the squirrels and we never have trouble at meal time when they are watching “nature TV”..

IMG_8718 web.Now if I can just figure out who is eating my lobelia plants and pulling up my cucumber transplants…it has to be the squirrels or could it be Chloe, (who seems to be saying, who me?…couldn’t be…

IMG_9170.For more information on Western Ground Squirrels here is a good article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_gray_squirrel

Do you have squirrels in your garden? Are they friend or foe?

 

 

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