Kay Charter, Executive Director of Saving thru Habitat and author of For the Love of Birds emailed us yesterday regarding our efforts to fend off the ravenous raccoons in our back yard.
Our squirrel/raccoon proofing of the bird feeders has consisted of filling them with seed or suet loaded with hot pepper.
Kay pointed out that although there are no studies that show that eating pepper infused birdseed or suet is necessarily bad for birds, there are also no studies on the effects of birds eating pepper infused seed.
Hmm... we did do some research before tossing out the hot stuff and found that sure, birds will eat it, they don't have any taste buds. Mammals will not eat it, they can taste it. Or, at least they learn that hot pepper is not so tasty after they try a few bites and run panting to the bird bath.
Kay's point was that although the birds are digging the seed, it doesn't necessarily mean that introducing a hot pepper into their diet is a good thing. Birds in our neighborhood aren't scavenging off pepper bushes. Pepper is not part of their normal diet.
Kay, DANG! We had the certain solution and now you got us thinking about the proper method of minimizing raccoon/squirrel damage.
Bring the feeders in at night.
Oh, I can just hear Cute Husband. "Thanks, Kay. More chores"