Date: 2/5/18 12:48 pm
From: Jeffrey Short <bashman...>
Subject: Re: Hot Pepper on Bird Food
I have a THEORY that the oil may cause the seeds to look differently to the
birds. "...Passerine birds can detect colour differences that humans do not
register. This finer discrimination, together with the ability to see
ultraviolet light..." may suggest that the treated seeds may look
un-nutritional or resemble something unattractive.

Also, do you make the hot oil or buy it? Fresh oil may not be rancid or
have other chemicals to extract the "hot". I can provide some bhut jolokia
(aka "ghost") peppers if you want to give the squirrels a treat!

How about putting out 100 seeds each in two piles at the same time and count
them periodically to see if there is a difference between treated and
un-treated? Repeat as necessary.

Jeff Short
-----Original Message-----
From: The Birds of Arkansas Discussion List
[mailto:<ARBIRD-L...>] On Behalf Of Gmail
Sent: Monday, February 05, 2018 7:27 AM
To: <ARBIRD-L...>
Subject: Re: Hot Pepper on Bird Food


It is unlikely that your observation was due to the hot pepper oil. Birds
vary considerably over time at our feeders, so unless you provided an
experimental control with replicated trials, what you saw was more likely
due to small sample size (one day of observation) rather than due to a real

Birds are the primary seed dispersers of hot pepper seeds in the tropics,
meaning they eat the seeds readily. In fact, perusing the literature on the
subject one can find several articles where hot pepper introduced to the
diets of chickens actually assisted weight gain in young chicks, so it seems
there may be beneficial aspects to ingesting it.

Now that does not mean that more is better when mixed into bird seed, but it
is unlikely to be harmful in moderation given that for some species it is
part of their usual diet.

What I would recommend is following the instructions on the label and then
adding less and less to future seed batches until you find the point where
your squirrels are dining again on your seed. At this point increase the
dosage again to deter them. This will be the minimum dosage that works for
your yard. By doing this, you will save yourself some worry (if you still
have any) and you will also save yourself some money, too.


> On Feb 4, 2018, at 22:00, Carolyn Minson <csminson...> wrote:
> Do any of you know about research as to whether hot pepper, either dry or
oil, used on bird food to keep squirrels away is harmful to birds? When I
tried the oil today on sunflower hearts, it definitely kept the squirrels
from eating it, but the birds did not seem to eat as much as usual.
> Carolyn Minson
> Hot Springs Village
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