Does it seem like your birdwatching hobby has become more of a squirrel-watching activity? I’ve been reading some of the hilarious and animated comments on the web from concerned bird watchers and thought I’d better put a few tips out there to help solve this problem.
In this article, I’m going to teach you 11 tips on how to keep squirrels away from bird feeders by:
- Making sure they cant get to your feeder
- Making sure they can’t get anything out of your feeder
- Making sure they don’t want what’s in your feeder even if they get past the other two defenses
I’ll introduce you to a few other hints and tips along the way as well. So let’s get learning about how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders.
- Top 12 Best Squirrel Feeders – Review of 2022
- Top 15 Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
- 10 Best Squirrel Baffles: 2022 In-depth Bird Expert Review
Ways How To Keep Squirrels Out Of Bird Feeders
1. Know Your Enemy
Before you can start formulating your strategy, you need to know a few things about the athletic abilities of squirrels. Learning more about this cunning creature will definitely help you keep them out of your bird feeders.
As cute as these furry creatures are, they have an amazing ability to empty your feeders in no time at all, sending your favorite birds elsewhere, with empty bellies.
I’ve done some research into the matter and the results are pretty surprising. Let’s look at the vital statistics:
- Squirrels can jump 4ft high from the ground.
- They can jump about 9ft across with a running start.
- Squirrels love to eat nuts but they also enjoy birdseed as well as fruits and vegetables.
Keep these facts in mind because they will come in handy for a few more tips on how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders.
2. Select The Right Seeds
Squirrels aren’t particularly fussy about what they’ll eat. Luckily for them, most of the foods we put in our feeders to attract birds are very attractive to squirrels.
These seeds will still attract a great variety of birds, including goldfinches, buntings, doves, chickadees, cardinals, titmice, siskins, tanagers, sparrows, and more.
3. Baffle Them
Baffles are cone-shaped devices that squirrels struggle to climb over. If you already have your feeder set on a pole and squirrels are climbing right on up there and munching away, it’s time to start thinking about adding a baffle or two.
Before installing a baffle, refer to point one. If a squirrel can jump at least 4ft up, your baffle had better be higher than that, or the sneaky scoundrel will jump right over it, and proceed to feast.
While baffles usually work great for keeping squirrels out of bird feeders, there are some squirrels that are just more gifted than others and they will find a way around the problem. Double up on your baffles and use both pole-mounted and hanging options to get the best results.
4. Use A Squirrel proof Bird Feeder
You can take some comfort in knowing that yours isn’t the only bird feeder that attracts squirrels like a magnet. In fact, so many people have this problem that special ‘squirrel-proof’ bird feeders have been designed.
I put ‘Squirrel-proof’ in quotation marks because some clever squirrels will always out-smart even the smartest designs. That being said, these feeders definitely do help, especially if used in combination with some of my other tips on how to keep squirrels away from bird feeders.
Squirrel-proof bird feeders work by letting birds access the food but keeping the squirrels hungry. There are a few types of these feeders available but two of the most effective designs are:
- Weight-activated feeders that close access to the food when heavy animals like squirrels climb onto them for a snack. This design by Roamwild is among the most popular feeders available on the market.
- Cage-protected feeders are designed so that squirrels can’t fit through the bars, but small birds can. This feeder by More Birds comes highly recommended, although squirrels may still be able to reach some of the suet through the bars.
5. Feed The Squirrels
For many of us, it’s not only birds that we enjoy watching, but all sorts of wildlife. The frustrating bit is when those other creatures are keeping our favorite birds away. So here’s an idea that might just work for you.
Feed the squirrels as well. Now I know squirrels can do more harm than just eating the birds’ food. Some folks have endless troubles with squirrels living on their roofs or chewing on their garden furniture etc. and if that’s you, then absolutely don’t encourage these animals.
If there are just one or two of these furry acrobats in your yard, you might just be able to keep everyone happy by giving them an easy to get to source of their favorite foods so they won’t be tempted to figure out how to get past your other squirrel proofing techniques.
6. Use A Squirrel Proof Feeder Pole
If you don’t already have your bird feeder set up and want to get started in the right way, get yourself a ready-made pole system that is designed to keep squirrels out. Just remember to choose a design with a baffle that is at least 4ft above the ground to keep those squirrels from jumping right over them.
7. Put Your Feeders Where Squirrels Can’t Reach Them
This is where knowing all about the squirrel’s athletic abilities will come in handy. Squirrels can quite easily jump 4ft vertically and 9ft horizontally. That means your feeder needs to be at least 5ft off the ground and 10ft away from the nearest tree or other structure your opponent may leap from.
Apparently, squirrels don’t like climbing down to feeders hung 9ft or more from a structure or tree branch above. If you’re going to suspend your feeder from a point high above, remember to keep it high enough off the floor that the squirrel can’t leap up to it, and low enough that you can comfortably reach it for topping up the food and cleaning the feeder.
8. Use A Cage
Setting up a cage over your bird feeder is an effective way of making your bird feeders squirrel proof, as long as they can’t fit through the bars. Bear in mind of course that larger birds won’t be able to get through the cage either.
One of the disadvantages of using cages is that birds may become startled and injure themselves while trying to get out of the cage if you approach the feeder. Small squirrels may also be able to squeeze in if the bars are wide enough apart.
9. How To Keep Squirrels Out Of Bird Feeders With A Slinky
Now, what on earth do slinkys have to do with squirrels and feeders? I’m getting conflicting reports about just how effective this technique is for keeping these furry thieves away but one thing is for sure, it’s worth a shot, even if only for the entertainment value.
The idea here is that the slinky is hung from the top of the pole, just below the feeder and the squirrel, after climbing up the pole is forced to grab onto the slinky to reach the feeder.
When the squirrel grabs onto the slinky, it stretches out and returns the squirrel back down to earth.
10. Set Up Your Feeder On A Horizontal Wire, With A Twist!
This is a fun but effective way of keeping squirrels off your bird feeder by hanging your feeder from a horizontal wire, rather than a bird feeder pole. The challenge is to keep the system looking neat, but then, our first priority is to feed our beloved birds.
Have you ever tried standing on a barrel that’s floating on water? Splash. Well, imagine a tube over the wire and the squirrel trying to run over that tube.
Things like empty fishing line or thread spools or cut open soda bottles could work for this. Don’t worry, the squirrel won’t be hurt when he gets tipped off the wire and onto the lawn below. Thanks for coming!
Please don’t set your feeder up between two really high points or over anything dangerous, the last thing we want is for a squirrel to get hurt.
11. Warm Their Bellies
Most squirrels don’t like their food spicy, and so you could say that hot food is a good squirrel deterrent. The chemical found in chillis and peppers, known as capsaicin, has the same effect on them as it does on us.
Fortunately, birds are not affected and just don’t feel the heat. Apparently, some squirrels will tough it out and eat the hot stuff anyway, in which case I’d suggest abandoning this method, just in case they overindulge or even burn their eyes or noses.
Unfortunately for us, squirrels are the ultimate bird feeder raiders. I wish there was a single, 100% effective solution that would work on every squirrel at every feeder but unfortunately, the squirrels are just that smart. The 11 tips I’ve given you in this article will definitely go a long way towards keeping your bird feeders squirrel-free.