Hot pepper powder, or the capsaicin compound derived from hot peppers, is often added to loose bird seed, bird seed bells and suet cakes to discourage hungry squirrels from gobbling up food intended to welcome song birds to the yard or garden.
Packaged hot-pepper bird seed or packets of hot-pepper additive are available for purchase at most garden centers or nurseries, but adding cayenne pepper to homemade bird seed mixtures is a relatively easy and far less expensive way to achieve the same results.
Capsaicin is harmless to birds but is a "heated" reminder to squirrels and other rodents to stay away from expensive bird seed. It should help your bird seed last longer because it will just feed the birds -- not those pesky squirrels.
Loose Hot-Pepper Bird Seed Mix
Empty the 1-pound bag of wild bird seed into a large bowl or clean bucket. Inexpensive wild bird seed mixtures contain large amounts of millet seed and red and white milo grains, but they can make a good base for homemade bird seed recipes.
Measure a cup of black-oil sunflower seeds and add to the bird seed mix in the bowl. High-energy black-oil sunflower seeds are often the first to be selected and eaten by discriminating birds. These thin-shelled seeds attract a wide variety of song birds and smaller birds like chickadees and sparrows.
Add a measured one cup of cracked corn to the mixture. Many different kinds of birds enjoy the taste of cracked corn, but so do squirrels and other small mammals, which makes adding hot-pepper to the mix even more critical. Cracked corn also attracts game birds, such as pheasants and grouse, to the area.
Measure the 3 tablespoons of cayenne powder. Add it to the bird seed mix in the bowl or bucket. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the cayenne pepper, seeds and cracked corn are well-mixed. It's important to make sure that the cayenne pepper is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Transfer the hot-pepper bird seed mixture to a large storage container with a lid. Store in a cool, dry place. Before using the hot-pepper seed each time, give the closed container a shake to redistribute the cayenne pepper throughout the seed mixture.