Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

Vertebrate Visitor

I enjoy watching the wildlife in our suburban garden, so when a squirrel appeared at our bird feeder, I was very excited. We have lived in our house for more than fifteen years and this is only the second time we have seen squirrels in our garden. The first sighting was not long after we moved in, so I think the current visits may be due to our recent addition of the bird feeder.

The bird feeder is an easy reach from the fence for this hungry tree squirrel. (Photo by Sharon Leos)

I checked the UC Integrated Pest Management website and found the squirrel in my photo is probably an eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), a type of tree squirrel. Tree squirrels are active during the day all year-round (they do not hibernate) and enjoy eating a variety of items, several of which are found in the garden. So far, the squirrels in our yard have only eaten bird seeds, so I don’t mind them visiting - emphasis on visiting. I do not want a squirrel population explosion, like we seemed to have had with rats this summer, but that is a story for another day.

Keeping squirrels out of a garden or away from bird feeders can be challenging because they are very smart creatures. I will move to the birdfeeder farther from the fence, hopefully out of squirrels’ reach. The squirrels in our backyard do not like the presence of dogs, so our dogs will be outdoors more in the coming days where I know they will enjoy more time under the Solano sun.

For more information on managing tree squirrels in the garden visit the UC IPM website:

Posted on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 8:02 AM
Tags: birdfeeder (1), eastern fox squirrel (1), garden (69), IPM (40), Sciurus niger (1), squirrel (2), vertebrate (1)


What a darling photo. I too was thrilled when ground squirrels found my bird feeder. They would jump from the deck railing to the hanging feeder. I had quite a bird feeder which served many mourning doves, California quail, scrub jays, and all sorts of smaller passerines. Things got out of hand when the quail (they scratch like chickens) started spreading bird seed un the deck below the feeder. One thing led to another and we soon had a colony of rats which liked to eat holes in our window screens as well as eat the tomatoes and bird seed. I'm sad to say that the only solution we could find was to remove the bird feeder which had been a source of joy for us for several years. Pest control has placed four rodent boxes at various places in the vicinity of where the feeder had been. The battle has now moved to the garage and the only critters that have suffered in this battle are the lovely birds. I hope your squirrels and birds don't bring rats. Your dogs may keep things under control. Good luck.

Posted by Emily Rued on September 10, 2011 at 6:33 AM

From my research and observation, it seems the rat population far out numbers the squirrel population. We certainly had rats in our garden before we placed the bird feeders or saw the squirrels that visited the bird feeders, so I can not directly attribute the rat presence to the squirrels and birds. But, rats do enjoy bird seed, so we take the bird feeders down at night to reduce the attraction!  
For more information on managing rats in the garden ask a Master Gardener for Pest Note #74106 or visit the UC IPM website:

Posted by Sharon Leos on October 3, 2011 at 11:00 PM

We had a squirrel who pestered our dogs to death and got them into trouble for barking! It also devoured just about every almond on our tree which seemed to have a great crop this year. (Sigh). Gary Bogue said to try putting a yellow happy face balloon in your is supposed to frighten the squirrels...maybe next year!

Posted by Donna J. Seslar on October 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM

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