Every bird feeder out there wants to know how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders sooner or later. Whether you like these critters or not, you will have to deal with them. They can steal the bird food and you might have to lose everything that you have worked for until now to create your little bird paradise.
Therefore, you need to come up with ideas nice and fast! This post will help you to keep squirrels out of bird feeders effectively by following some super simple tips and tricks.
1. Install a squirrel proof bird feeder
This is the first step that you need to undertake to keep the squirrels away from the bird food. However, you need to install the right kind of bird feeder to keep it protected from squirrel’s attack. Here are some of the best types of squirrel proof bird feeders.
Weight activated bird feeders come with a weight-sensitive mechanism that instantly closes the seed port as soon as a squirrel stands on it. And as the squirrel leaves the port opens up again. These are excellent for hanging in the trees.
The pole-mounted bird feeders are great because they don’t hang from a tree. Instead, it hands on a pole where squirrels find it really tough to reach the bird food. They are very simple in design, but you will need a pole to hang them.
Caged feeders are also useful where the feeder is surrounded by a chew-resistant cage made of steel. They are not very light in weight but are highly effective in preventing the squirrels from reaching the bird food.
2. The feeder location is the secret key
After choosing the right kind of squirrel resistant bird feeder, you need to choose the right location for it. If you place it right, squirrels won’t even think about reaching it. The 5-7-9 Rule is something that you need to keep in mind. Here’s what this rule reveals:
- Squirrels cannot jump more than 5 feet above in the air.
- They cannot jump more than 7 feet across from one point to another.
- They are also very reluctant to jump onto a feeder from above more than 9 feet.
You need to place the bird feeder while keeping these numbers in mind and you can take care of a large number of squirrels without trying anything else. You also need to know that squirrels are able to make a 10 feet leap horizontally. So, to prevent them from making this jump, place your feeder more than 10 feet away from any trees or walls in the surrounding areas.
If you don’t have a place to hang your feeder in such a position, then string a line between two points (either trees or walls) and make it as high as possible. Squirrels will find it very difficult to walk on a bouncy string and they will have a hard time making a jump towards the feeder.
3. Offer foods that squirrels don’t like
When it comes to birdseed, there are not many types that squirrels don’t like. But there are some and you can use them effectively.
Safflower seeds are also not a squirrel’s favorite. But numerous finches, cardinals, chickadees, and titmice love to eat them. PS! Grackles and starlings also don’t like these seeds.
White Proso Millet is a bit too small for the squirrels, so they don’t have any cravings for this seed either. However, doves, sparrows, and juncos like them.
You can use hot peppers as well in the birdfeed. Peppers have capsaicin in them, which makes them spicy and uncomfortable in your mouth (of course, if you don’t like spicy food!).
But here is a thing, capsaicin only affects animals such as squirrels. Birds can eat it all day without getting spiced up. So you can use it in your bird feeder.
4. Use a separate squirrel feeder (decoy)
Squirrels are just animals who are trying to get to a food source. It is something that is embedded in their nature like all other animals, including humans. It is not if they are some pests trying to invade your produce.
You can deter them from accessing the feed and scaring the bird away by feeding them with a separate squirrel feeder that is just meant for them.
Make their access to the bird feeder difficult for them but ease their access to their own feeder. Add some inexpensive food that they love, including sunflower seeds or corn.
If you can’t beat them, join them, so try to feed them away from the bird feeders they won’t think about making all the effort and reach to a food that doesn’t belong to them.
5. Spice it up
You can use hot peppers in the birdfeed to spice things up for the squirrels, as we mentioned above. Apart from that, you can also use peppers as a repellent product. Pepper is a natural squirrel deterrent.
You can use a squirrel retardant spray like Critter Ridder® directly on your feeders. This will keep the squirrels away from the feed for good. This spray will affect only the squirrels, but birds will not even notice it.
Peppers are natural squirrel retardants and the critters don’t like to taste or smell them at all. You can use this to perfection and prevent your next squirrel invasion. Additionally, you can also use birdseed that is treated with peppers.
Peppers have been long used in the birdfeed as squirrel-retardant because there are no reports of health concerns for the birds to this date. Some pepper treated foods include the likes of the Wild Delight Sizzle N’ Heat Suet Bird Food.
6. Install a squirrel-proof feeder pole
If your space doesn’t have a pole for your bird feeder in it, then it is better for you to buy one. Make sure that you consider a bird feeder pole that is specifically designed to deter squirrels.
These poles have a super smooth surface that squirrels cannot grip comfortably when climbing. Furthermore, these poles also feature a spring-loaded baffler or a pole baffler to keep the squirrels away.
You can comfortably get rid of most of the squirrel related problems with such a pole. They have to eat from the ground because they cannot reach the feeder. You can buy a pole designed to deter squirrels.
These poles have spring-loaded construction to make it hard for the squirrels to climb. These poles also come with baffles that make it even troubling for the squirrels to reach the birdfeed.
7. Install a squirrel baffle
Installing a squirrel baffle is another option for you to deter squirrels from eating the birdseed. This baffle is a device made of plastic and it has a dome shape or pole-shape based on the type, you need to attach it right under the feeder.
With the curved barrier, squirrels will find it very difficult to reach the birdseed. You can add these smooth squirrel baffles, either made of metal or plastic below and above your feeder. Make sure that these baffles are 15 to 18 inches long and wide to prevent the critters from reaching around them.
These baffles are made to tilt or twirl when a squirrel climbs it and will remain off-balance with no access to the feeder. Besides going for a new squirrel resistant pole, you can also attach a baffle to your existing pole. You can purchase a baffle separately for this purpose.
There are two kinds of it. One is a torpedo baffle, and the other one is the wrap-around baffle. You can attach both these baffles below the feeder. But keep it high enough (more than 5 feet) so that they cannot jump over it and reach the feeder.
8. Grease the feeder pole
Greasing the pole is another good choice and it just means that you can make the surface slippery for the squirrels so that they cannot climb. You can add plastic layered tubing around your pole for this.
But greasing the pole using some oil like mustard oil will also make it troublesome for them to grip the pole and climb because it is very slippery.
But keep in mind that don’t use any other chemicals to make the poles slippery. Don’t use petroleum jelly, glue, grease, or anything sticky.
Using such substances will make it very difficult for the squirrels to keep them off from their fur and they might lose their fur altogether. This can be very problematic for them in the winter. These substances can be hazardous for them if they ingest them while grooming themselves.
9. Keep the ground clean
Make sure that you keep the area surrounding your bird feeder clean and tidy. You need to remove any debris or any spilled seeds from the ground below. These can be the number one source to attract squirrels.
Cleaning it up will also make sure that the birds don’t feed on the rotten or contaminated seed as it will be unhealthy for them.
Squirrels like to go for seeds on the ground and these fallen seeds might be attracting the squirrels and once they enter the area, they will try their best to reach the feeders.
Hence, keep ground underneath your feeders clean because it will also deter raccoons or rats. You can attach a large-sized tray under your feeder on the pole for catching all the falling seeds.
10. Use a slinky
You can have a little bit of fun with feeder-approaching squirrels if you want by adding a slinky. If your feeder is on a pole, just place a metal slinky on it.
It will be very entertaining to see when a squirrel tries hard to climb the pole and the slinky makes all its efforts in vain. Make sure that you don’t place the slink close to the ground, or the squirrels will jump over it to reach the feeder.
It shouldn’t even be near the ground. Make the higher than 2 feet at least to be effective. Don’t allow the slinky to hang all the way to the ground. Don’t even let it get near the ground. Make them climb the pole and then get to the slinky.
This will make them jump off very quickly. If your feeder is close to a tree or a wall, then you must fence the launch point and make it hard for the squirrel to access it from such points. Otherwise, this will lead to a point where your slinky will become useless.
11. Get a dog
If you have a dog, then it will keep the squirrels away easily. Having one of those larger breeds will be more effective.
A lot of people have found this method very useful even for rabbits as well as deer.
Of course, as your dog comes in, the squirrels will be back, but as long as your furry friend is out there, there is no chance of an invasion.
12. Remove potential shelter
The last but not the least is to get rid of any potential shelter for the squirrels. You need to make sure that those squirrels are not able to make a convenient home right next to your feeder. Therefore, you need to get rid of any possible shelter places for good.
Prevent them from nesting in attics, old sheds, and under eaves. If a squirrel’s home is far from the feeder, it won’t come to your place and steal the birdseed.
Related: Best Gazebo Bird Feeders in 2022
Make sure that you take all the necessary steps to keep the squirrels away from your birdseed. There are a number of ways and tools that you can use to deter them. But bear in mind you don’t have to hurt the squirrels in the process. They are just animals trying to feed on the available food sources.
Don’t try to treat them like some pests. You can be a little more creative and make the squirrels a part of your entertainment with the ongoing bird show nearby. These critters are determined and curious animals and you can use their natural instincts for entertainment purposes without hurting them.