How To Enjoy Your Backyard Squirrels

Squirrels are cute, furry and fairly friendly little rodents that can be a lot of fun to watch in your backyard. There are actually over 350 different kinds of them, but the one’s you have in your backyard will be the ones you’re pretty much stuck with, and they’re all similar in their diets and mannerisms. Some do live underground while others live in trees, but you’ll have the same friendly little creatures either way. Let’s take a look at how best to feed them, the types of habitats they like, and what to do if they invade your attic.

Squirrels Come In Many Sizes And Shapes

They range in size from about 3 inches up to about 15 inches, and can weigh almost 11 lbs., but mostly you’ll find they’re around 6 inches in the body with a longer tail. They have very soft fur, similar to a cat, it’s very silky, and thick. They can come in gray, black, gold or brown, and sometime stripes as well. Their large eyes help make them cute, and kids really adore them. Most squirrels live in the trees, but there are plenty that also live in the ground, like the golden mantle ground squirrel, and one species or another can be found in nearly every country on earth except the north and south poles.

These Cute Rodents Like Seeds And Nuts

They’re really partial to nuts, but can be found eating plenty of seeds, and are responsible for helping trees actually plant many of their seeds in the forests.  Squirrels climb the trees, remove the seeds, packing the insides of their cheeks until they bulge. Then, run down onto the forest floor where they bury the seeds for a later meal. They do this all day long, forgetting where they’ve put most of the seeds, which end up growing into trees at a later date, thus helping the trees spread their seeds farther than the wind could carry them.  If you want to add another element to fun with squirrels you could try getting a squirrel feeder like the twirl a squirrel feeder or picnic bench style.  There are many interesting and entertaining ways to feed squirrels.

Baby Squirrels Are Called Kittens

Just like a baby cat, they’re called kittens, and they’re born completely blind for about the first 7 weeks of life. They’re very vulnerable to predators when small, they have no hair or teeth and their eyes are closed. At this time they’re totally dependent on the mother for milk, just like most mammals on earth.

If you find a baby “Kitten” that has fallen from the nest, it is possible to care for it and it may live, if done right. You’ll need a small box with some warm towels, it needs to be kept warm at all times, especially when feeding. A small shoe box is just the right size when packed with towels. Some people recommend you warm bags of rice in the microwave until they’re warmed through, then place them in the box with the baby, making an indentation in the middle where the baby can stay surrounded by warmth.

The little kittens can survive nicely on human baby formula, made to the same specifications then fed through an eyedropper. After each feeding the baby will need to be rubbed lightly on the abdomen in order to be stimulated to urinate and have a bowel movement. After that, it’s time to sleep until the next feeding. After about 5 weeks your kitten will open its eyes and start walking, so you’ll need a small cage to keep it in. It will be able to eat nuts at about 8 weeks or so.

If Your Attic Gets Invaded By Squirrels, There Is A Humane Way To Handle It

First, go to the pet store, or feed store, and get some repellent, it smells like fox, a natural predator. Moth balls have also been used in the same manner as well, then when all the little critters are out of your attic, it’s time to block all the entrances. It may take a couple of tries, but the repellent works quite well. Once they’ve for sure left, then take some hot sauce and squirt it around all the places where they’ve entered, you should have no more problems.

Having delightful little playful squirrels in your backyard is a real treat, and kids love them. If you feed them often enough you’ll have a nice little family that will become fairly tame and even allow some children to pet them, but always be cautious as they’re quite fragile and can’t take much abuse.

In our last post we did an article about another backyard favorite.  The purple martin.  You can read that post here.

Attract Purple Martins By Providing The Best Houses

One of the reasons people like to have Purple Martins flying around their backyards is the graceful way they swoop through the air while catching bugs. Since they spend a large part of their time actually flying, and less sitting on perches, you can have dozens of them flying in your yard all hours of the day and evening. Martins are actually in the swallow family, being the largest of them, and are one of the most sought after birds for nesting in the US.

There are some things that you can do to attract a colony of your own to your backyard, and they’ll then return each year as long as they feel safe.

When Is The Best Time To Put Up Your Purple Martin House?

These birds are migratory and fly several thousand miles to and from their winter and summer habitats. So in that case they’ll be passing by at a different time in nearly every location, which makes it hard to know when to have their house ready. One easy way to get info on purple martins, their migration patterns and the various housing options is to contact our friends over at the wild bird store online. They are one of the top online retailers of purple martin houses and generally have martin houses for sale from all major vendors.

One interesting fact about Martins is that they have scouts that are out in front of the main flock looking for adequate shelter, and by having your houses out, you can attract the scouts who will then alert the main flock when it arrives. You’ll also want to make daily inspections of your houses to make sure starlings haven’t occupied them, it helps if you pay careful attention to the size of the entrance holes, as starlings are a slightly larger bird. You shouldn’t place the houses too close to your residence as that can be a deterrent. Try to place the house 50 feet away from all trees and buildings if possible and avoid anything overhanging that predators can use to get near the house.

Having larger compartments in the martin houses has been shown to increase the number of eggs laid, which in turn can make for a much larger colony as years go by and they all return for nesting. Aim for nesting compartments about 7 inches by 12 inches in size to help protect the nest.

tree cavity nest
tree cavity nest

The Birdhouse Poles You Use Can Have an Effect Too

Martins are picky about their houses and the height of the house certainly plays a role in that. You’ll want it to be higher than most of the other objects nearby or as stated above, at least a good distance (minimum 20 feet) from nearby trees, limbs, wires or other structures. It has to do with their instinct of avoiding predators from both the ground and above. On the ground there are cats, opossums, raccoons and snakes that like to climb trees and eat their eggs. From the sky there are predatory birds like owls or hawks that will perch in the opening of the Martin house and eat the eggs from there. Minimum height should be about 12 feet or higher.

Taking Care Of Your Colony Is Important To Keep Them Safe And Returning

Once you have a colony of Purple Martins nesting in your bird houses it’s important to be able to bring the houses down from time to time and clean them out. They can get infested with mites, insects and other vermin that can affect the health of your birds. Some of the best poles are telescopic so they can be lowered and raised easily to do the cleanouts. Once the compartments are empty they should be rinsed with clean water before they’re raised to the top of the pole again. There are also winch and cable setups that can lower and raise the birdhouse, you’ll just have to see which one works best for you and your yard.

Getting Purple Martins to nest the first time is the most difficult because the adults tend to nest in the same area they did the year before. What you’re really intent on attracting is the new adults in their first year of breeding, then they’ll return year after year as long as you are a good landlord, bringing their young adults along with them.

Finding The Best Bird Feeders

The ideal bird feeders are going to be durable enough to withstand extreme temperatures including both cold and warm. It is also going to be durable enough to withstand squirrels. Another aspect that you want to be sure of is that it is sealed properly to keep the seeds dry during poor weather conditions. As you can see, there are many factors that should go into your purchasing decision. Finding the best one is not always easy because of the various choices available. In this article, we will be going over some of the main things that you should consider when you are trying to find the best bird feeders.

songbirds enjoying peanuts
songbirds enjoying peanuts
  1. Style

The first thing that you want to look for is the type or style of feeder. You want to make sure that you find the right type for your purposes. There are various kinds of feeders that you could consider purchasing; many of which will attract different types of birds. There are tray or platform feeders. These feeders typically attract the widest variety of birds including sparrows, starlings, and blue jays. These particular feeders do not offer too much protection against snow and rain and depending on the base, they may not provide the best drainage. Because of this, the seeds might actually become wet enough to sprout and the wet seeds also might attract much more bacterial growth than if they were dry. Also, a lot of bird droppings can ruin the actual seed in the feeders which can cause problems. The best feeders of this category actually have screens which promote total drainage. Other types of feeders that you could consider are window feeders, hopper feeders, tube feeders, and more.

  1. Material

The next thing that you are going to want to do is make sure that you find the feeder with the right kind of material make up. The material of the actual feeder is something to consider because your job is to find the most durable material possible. That way, you know that the product you choose is going to work well for your purposes. There are various materials that you can look for that would be sufficient. A lot of bird feeders might be made of wood. Some of them are made of plastic and others metal. Find the materials that are going to work the best in the type of conditions that you are planning on placing it in. This way, you know that you will end up getting the most out of your chosen product.

  1. Ease Of Cleaning

Another thing that you are going to want to consider is how easy the feeder is going to be to clean. You want to make sure that you find a feeder that is going to be fairly easy to clean unless you want to spend a ton of time each time that you are forced to clean it. This will end up making your life a lot easier. There are certain types of feeders that are easier to clean than others. If this matters to you, try to choose the one that is easiest for you to clean.

  1. Price

The last thing that you are going to want to consider when you are attempting to find the best feeder is the price. You want to get the most bang for your buck. Therefore, you should always factor this into your decision. Finding the best feeder for the best price should be your ultimate goal.

As you can see, there is plenty that should be factored into your decision. Finding the best feeder doesn’t have to be too difficult. Simply look for the feeder that is going to best suit your needs and overall budget. You should be able to find multiple options when you are trying to search for the best options on the market. Be sure to weigh your choices and really look at the factors that we have discussed above. You want to find the feeder that is the most durable, easiest to clean, best for the birds, and the feeder that is going to give you the best bang for your buck.  By doing this, you should be able to find the top feeder available.

We recently did an article on how to attract purple martins to your yard.  They won’t go to your bird feeders as they’re insect eaters but they sure are a delight to have around.  Check out that post here.

Welcome to our Site!

Hi and welcome to Iron Dog Feeders.  We’re currently undergoing a major site overhaul and in doing so we’ve got a lot of work to do.  Our goal is to provide you our customers with a tremendous selection of wild bird feeders, bird houses and baths in order to assist you in creating a wonderful backyard habitat for your bird friends.  We’ll carry the best brands and their newest products on offer to impress your birds and neighbors.  As the site is being totally renovated it’s going to take us some time to get everything working properly and figuring out all the logistics of warehousing inventory and getting product shipped out timely and accurately.   Please be patient as we’re working super hard to get things done quickly.  In the mean time if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to write us at