About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ways to keep raccoons from your yard

Hi, Just wondered if you have any ideas about getting rid of displaced wildlife in a suburban yard.  We have recently been getting visits (many times a day) of skunks and raccoons to the area of our bird feeders.  They eat what falls to the ground or climb the trees to get the ones we have there.  We are nowhere near a wooded area.  We have tried scaring them away many times, but they keep coming back. Any ideas? Thanks!
 
The Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is known for its distinctive black mask and night time raids on bird feeders. While raccoons don’t hibernate, those that live in cold climates like Michigan, can hole up in their burrow or under decks for weeks at a time. During their long periods of sleep, raccoons do not eat. Without food, they can lose up to one-half of their total weight! To prepare for these difficult times, raccoons have to bulk up in late summer and fall to survive cold winters.

When they are awake they are always savaging. The territory of a raccoon can be as large as ten miles. This means he'll usually stay in your yard for a little while and then move on looking for different food, water, and shelter. Of course another one may replace the one that just left your yard or you may be free of raccoons for weeks.

To keep raccoons from your yard:
1. Bring feeders in at night- most raccoons and skunks forage at night and if the feeders are put away they will move on faster.
2. Use squirrel proof feeders- The Squirrel Buster Plus feeder deters squirrels, raccoons and large black birds. You can adjust the tension on the spring mechanism to have the feeder ports shut when unwanted guest attempt to feed.
3. Food Choice- Use a birdseed blend that has seeds that the birds in our area like to eat. Some cheaper blends are filled with milo and oats that are just kicked to the ground and left for the rodents to clean up. All of the Wild Birds Unlimited blends are formulated specifically to attract the widest variety of birds in mid-Michigan.
Other Good Food Choices
Pure Beef Suet with no seeds or Hot Pepper suet deters most animals but still attracts a wide variety of woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and wrens.
Safflower seed: You can start by offering safflower gradually, mixing it with the seed you currently use. Over time increase the amount of safflower until you are feeding straight safflower. The seed looks and tastes different from other bird seed, so it may take your birds some time to adjust. Safflower is a small, white seed that is high in protein and fat. Many favorite backyard birds - including cardinals, chickadees, finches, doves, woodpeckers, titmice and nuthatches- savor safflower. Blackbirds, starlings, raccoons and most squirrels typically refuse to eat safflower seed. Safflower seed cakes and seed cylinders are also available at Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing, MI. 
Nyjer Seed – Nyjer, niger, and thistle are all common names used to identify a tiny black birdseed cultivated in Asia and Africa that is high in calories and oil content, and loved by American Goldfinches and avoided by most raccoons and squirrels.
4. Baffle Feeding station- The long, cylindrical design of our Raccoon Baffle specializes in deterring raccoons as well as chipmunks and squirrels from reaching your feeders. This baffle can be mounted to fit our Advanced Pole System® (APS). If you don't have an APS setup why not? The Basic APS Boxed Setup is an excellent way to get your bird feeding hobby organized. But we also have special wrap around baffles that can go around skinny poles too.