can birds eat bell pepper seeds

As with most people, we have been fighting an endless battle with the neighborhood squirrels. We can’t keep them out of our birdfeeder. My cousin suggested I try birdseed that has been laced with hot pepper. She says the birds don’t mind, but the squirrels stay away. Have you ever tried it and if so, does it work? Is it safe for birds?

It’s amazing how things come and go, and then come back again. When we run out of new ideas, we just drag out the old stuff. Star Wars, for example, never stops coming back, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone makes another TV show about a talking horse. But I never thought the hot birdseed topic would come back around; yet, here it is again. What’s next? The return of “Keep on Truckin’” T-shirts? If so, I’m ready.

It was back in 1993 when I first started receiving questions about a product called Squirrel Away. Squirrel Away was a powder made from Capsicum peppers. Capsicum peppers contain capsaicin, which is the ingredient that makes hot peppers taste hot. A little capsaicin gives food a nice spicy flavor, but too much can cause steam to come out of your mouth (or so it seems). The makers of Squirrel Away figured that if this hot stuff were mixed in with birdseed, the squirrels would take one bite and “go away,” hence the name. The next question is: Wouldn’t the stuff also deter the birds? No, it won’t. Birds don’t have the same taste receptors in their mouths that mammals have and thus can’t detect the heat. Birds can eat all the hot peppers they want and never feel a thing. In other words, you should not get into a hot sauce-eating contest with a cardinal or a titmouse because you will get smoked (literally).

We never carried Squirrel Away, but we did hear quite a bit of feedback about it, and the majority of the feedback was negative. Like most anti-squirrel products of the time, it just didn’t work very well. In addition, consumers had to mix the product into each and every bag of seed. This was not only laborious, but the people doing the mixing occasionally got the hot powder in their eyes (and don’t think the squirrels didn’t find that ironic…or funny).

Is hot powder safe for birds? When this product first came on the market birding organizations were very concerned. Even though the birds couldn’t feel the burn (sorry, Bernie), there was a chance they were being affected internally or in some other undetectable way. Today, some organizations think it’s totally safe for birds, while others still aren’t sure. Regardless, I don’t see Squirrel Away advertised anymore and apparently the company has gone out of business. In other words, the squirrels win again.

One of the difficulties with Squirrel Away was the chore of mixing it into the seed. It was a pain in the neck (and the eyes). With that problem in mind, another company eventually came out with a different hot birdseed product. But instead of selling a mixable powder, they sold seed with the hot stuff factory-installed. This was a major improvement. Folks reported that the pre-coated seed worked (mostly) at keeping the squirrels away from their feeders. Good news, right? Well, not really. The factory-installed hot seed comes with a price, a high price. How high? One online dealer sells fifty pounds of hot seeds for (get ready) $228.85. Yes, you read that right. They charge $288.85 for a bag of birdseed. Can you imagine? I didn’t pay that much for my first car (or my second or third car). In addition to the high cost, some organizations, including the Humane Society and Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, still have concerns about offering birds spiced-up food and recommend that we don’t use it. Even the company that makes the hot seed suggests we handle it with rubber gloves and keep it away from children. That should tell you something.

For years, the number one concern from customers was squirrels, but over the past ten years that hasn’t been the case. The recent batch of squirrel-proof feeders has been so effective that I don’t hear squirrel complaints nearly as much as I used to. Today’s top complaints are mostly directed at grackles (“those darn blackbirds”), raccoons and the ever-cute chipmunks. My advice, Jim, is to invest in a good squirrel-proof feeder, then take the money you saved by not buying expensive hot birdseed and buy something for yourself, such as a slightly used ”Keep on Truckin’” T-shirt. I’ll give you a good deal.

It is June and birds are now gathering those tiny green worms we are seeing everywhere, and are feeding them to their nestlings. As a result, your feeders, my feeders and everyone’s feeders are getting fewer birds. This will last for a couple of weeks until the worms are gone and this year’s crop of baby birds starts flying. Then our feeders will become busier than ever. So, please, please refuse the urge to call me and ask, “Where are all the birds?” No one feels your pain more than I do. Each June my seed sales plummet and hearing people complain about “no birds” is like rubbing hot pepper into the wound. So, just relax. The birds will be back at your feeder before you know it. In the meantime, keep on truckin’.

June is here, and the little green worms that seem to be everywhere are being gathered by birds and fed to their nestlings. Consequently, fewer birds are dropping by at your feeder, mine, and everyone else’s feeders. This will continue for a few weeks until the worms disappear and the new batch of baby birds from this year take to the air. Then our feeders will become busier than ever. I am the one who feels your pain the most, so please, please resist the urge to call and ask, “Where are all the birds?” Every June, my seed sales fall off dramatically, and it hurts to hear people lament that there are “no birds.” So, just relax. Before you know it, the birds will be returning to your feeder. In the meantime, keep on truckin’.

Although we never carried Squirrel Away, we did receive a lot of feedback, most of which was unfavorable. It just wasn’t very effective, like the majority of anti-squirrel products at the time. Furthermore, customers needed to combine the product with every single bag of seeds. Not only was this time-consuming, but the individuals mixing occasionally got hot powder in their eyes—don’t think the squirrels didn’t find that funny or ironic).

When hot powder was first introduced to the market, birding organizations expressed serious concerns about its safety for birds. Bernie, I’m sorry, but even though the birds couldn’t feel the burn, there was a chance they were being impacted internally or in some other way that wasn’t visible. While some organizations believe it to be completely safe for birds today, others are still unsure. In any case, Squirrel Away isn’t advertised anymore, and it looks like the business has closed. In other words, the squirrels win again.

Like most people, we’ve been engaged in a never-ending conflict with the squirrels around our neighborhood. We can’t keep them out of our birdfeeder. My cousin recommended that I try some hot pepper-laced birdseed. The birds don’t mind, but the squirrels avoid them, according to her. Have you tried it before? Is it safe for birds? If so, how does it work?

I first started getting inquiries about a product called Squirrel Away back in 1993. Squirrel Away was a powder made from Capsicum peppers. The compound that gives hot peppers their fiery flavor is called capsaicin, which is found in capsicum peppers. A small amount of capsaicin adds a nice spicy flavor to food, but too much of it (or so it seems) can make steam come out of your mouth. Squirrel Away got its name because its creators reasoned that if they combined this spicy substance with birdseed, the squirrels would take one taste and “go away.” The following query is: Wouldn’t the material also discourage birds? The answer is no. Because they lack the same taste receptors that mammals have in their mouths, birds are unable to sense heat. Birds don’t feel anything when they consume as many spicy peppers as they like. Stated differently, you will get smoked (figuratively) if you enter a hot sauce-eating competition with a cardinal or a titmouse.

When plant seeds are released onto the ground and await germination, they can be devoured by animals or attacked by pathogens like fungi. There is more benefit for pepper plants than just birds spreading seeds. As it turns out, chili pepper seeds that make it through a bird’s digestive system germinate at a rate that is 370% higher than seeds that do not make it through the bird’s system! Part of the reason for this is that these seeds are also significantly more resistant to fungal infections due to the protections the bird’s digestive system provides. Therefore, the plant benefits greatly when birds are purposefully drawn to the area to consume the seeds.

Birds will continue to be drawn to your suet because they do not feel hot when they taste pepper. We now carry seed that has been coated with a very high capsaicin pepper extract at WBU stores. (Although some businesses use pepper “flavoring,” this is useless because mammals are deterred by more than just the bitter taste. Even if you don’t think you’ll touch the extract, we still advise wearing gloves to protect your skin because it’s extremely hot. (Remember that while birds lack pain receptors, mammals—like us humans—do. This seed is more expensive because it needs to be prepared in a separate facility and all employees have to wear protective gear, but it will keep other mammals like bears, raccoons, squirrels, and rats from eating your bird seed. After tasting it, these mammals won’t return for more. After a while, you can start combining untreated seed with treated to cut costs. If the mammals don’t come back, you might be able to stop treating the treated seed until you see signs of them doing so.

Plants in the genus Capsicum produce a substance known as capsaicin, which is what causes the hot reaction. The tissues around the seeds, or the inside of each pepper, contain the highest concentration of capsaicin. It triggers taste receptors found in birds and mammals. However, it also activates a specific type of pain receptor that is present in mammals but absent in birds, which explains why eating peppers does not cause any negative effects in birds. Because these pain receptors are distributed throughout the body in mammals, not just the mouth, it is advised to wear gloves when handling and peeling jalapeño peppers, for example. Contrary to popular belief, capsaicin can lessen some kinds of pain. We apply creams or liniments that cause our skin to become hot or cold to relieve muscle soreness.

However, the plant can only benefit if the seeds are at the proper stage for germination and dispersal. The plant will not benefit if the bird consumes the pepper before the seeds have ripened. When its seeds are ready to be consumed, the plant must let the birds know. When the fruit (the chili pepper) ages, it turns red, which attracts birds. However, the seeds are still not quite ready to eat even after the red starts to form. When the seeds are fully developed, another signal needs to be sent. Here is where birds have another advantage over mammals. Birds see ultraviolet light in addition to red, blue, and green. Mammals, including humans, cannot see this type of light. When the pepper seeds reach full maturity, their outer layer now also reflects UV light. To birds, red appears differently when combined with ultraviolet light, but mammals only perceive red. The birds can now safely consume the pepper thanks to this color combination. However, because mammals cannot see ultraviolet light, the pepper is still a bright red color, alerting them not to eat it.

Although they don’t have the same hot response as humans, some birds appear to be highly attracted to the taste. This is to the pepper plant’s advantage. The scarlet color of the chili pepper warns mammals, “Don’t eat me; you won’t like it.” ” But the red color is attractive to birds. According to the plant, if a squirrel or other mammal were to eat the pepper that contains the seeds, it would pulverize the seeds between its molars. Although the squirrel may benefit from this, the plant’s seeds are destroyed. However, birds will consume the seeds whole and scatter them through their droppings. However, the situation is even more complex than this.