Bird feeders attract a wide variety of bird species, from Blue Jays to American Robins, but they also entice a range of other critters looking for a quick meal. One of the most alarming and persistent visitors to bird feeders is the black bear, who is usually seeking food after a long winter hibernation. While there are easy solutions for preventing squirrels and cats from getting to bird feeders, bears are much more challenging. If you live in an area populated with black bears, here are some tips to reduce the chances of bears knocking down your feeder.
Take down your feeder when spring arrives
If you live an area populated with bears, the state usually recommends completely taking down your bird feeder between the months of April and October. April is when bears are going to be leaving their dens hungry and searching for the easiest source of food. Since bears have an excellent sense of smell, they are usually drawn to bird feeders and have been known to knock them down. No type of feeder is safe from bears either. Bears love bird seed used in hopper feeders, suet from suet feeders and nectar from hummingbird feeders.
Affix your feeder to a tall metal pole
If you're adamant on keeping your feeder up through spring and summer, a flimsy pole will not stop a bear from getting your feeder. Instead, attach your bird feeder to the top of a tall, thick metal pole. Bears will shake a pole to get the feeder to fly off or will simply climb it if it's too short. To prevent this from happening, the pole should be about 10 feet tall and go several feet into the ground for added stability. It should also be at least 3 inches in diameter.
Hang your feeder from trees
Another alternative to keeping your feeder indoors is to hang it from the trees. Make sure it's at least 10 feet off the ground, so bears can't reach it by standing up. In order to make it inaccessible, it should be suspended in between two trees and could possibly be controlled through a pulley system. Bears will easily climb trunks and limbs for food, so make sure it's a good distance away from them. Attach the feeder securely to the rope, because there are many stories of bears shaking the ropes vigorously to make it fall down.
Put a lot of cayenne pepper in the bird seed
One of the remedies for stopping squirrels from eating your bird seed is to put cayenne pepper in it. Birds don't have taste buds and there are no negative effects on health, but mammals have taste buds, so crushed peppers make the bird seed spicy and undesirable to bears. A hefty amount should be mixed into the food for best results. Although the bears have to eat the seed for it to be effective, they also have excellent memories, so they will remember next year that the seed was too hot.
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