Ward Off Garden-Hungry Birds With A Few Items From Your Kitchen

Birds swooping in for a snack can be the bane of a gardener's existence. Even when you try to make your backyard bird feeder irresistible to lure them away from your beloved plant babies, hungry birds often gravitate to a garden filled with fruits and vegetables. Battling them to protect the fruits of your labor can indeed be a tiring chore. But what if you could mix up a spray in your kitchen that could help keep them at bay? Well, you can. All you need to concoct this type of repellent is dried chili peppers, water, and vinegar.

There are actually several different widely recommended recipes for bird repellents using chili peppers. One requires crushing about two dozen dried chili peppers and adding them to ½ gallon of water along with ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar before placing the mixture in a spray bottle and leaving it in the sun so the ingredients can meld together. Another swaps out apple cider vinegar for distilled white vinegar and suggests taking the mixture and heating it in a slow cooker for a few hours to brew before adding it to a spray bottle.

If you don't have any dried chili peppers, an alternative is adding 6 drops of dishwashing liquid and 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper to a gallon of water. Regardless of the recipe you choose, you can easily find the ingredients right in your kitchen, although there are some cautions and caveats to keep in mind before starting.

Cautions and caveats about using chili pepper spray in your garden

One of the main things to keep in mind when using these types of homemade mixtures is that they can be harmful to plants if sprayed directly on them. This includes sprays containing vinegar and those incorporating dish soap in the recipe. In fact, many gardeners use vinegar to kill weeds, so that offers a glimpse at how toxic it can be to tender vegetation. Dish soap can impact the roots of plants and deter growth if it seeps into the soil. So, if you do try pepper sprays as a bird repellent, be sure to apply them on the outside of planter boxes or nearby fencing instead of right onto your plants or directly to adjacent soil.

Studies have also shown that chili peppers alone may not work well to deter birds. There's evidence that birds lack the ability to detect capsaicin, the component in chili peppers that makes them repulsive to animals like squirrels, rats, and raccoons. So, while homemade repellent sprays that include vinegar may work due to the pungent odor, those relying on chili peppers as the only ingredient may not.