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10 Ways to Squirrel Proof a Bird Feeder

The best types of birdseed are just as attractive to squirrels as they are to birds, including black oil sunflower seeds, suet, and nuts. Squirrels may initially seem like a great addition to backyard wildlife, in fact, some hobbyists don’t mind the occasional visit. However, other birders experience severe difficulties with the voracious appetites of squirrels, as well as their domineering attitudes and frequent feedings. Unlike squirrels, birds generally share feeders with other visitors, while squirrels scare and chase birds away until the feeder is empty – quickly consuming seeds without allowing birds to grab a bite.

While it can feel impossible to prevent squirrels from enjoying your birdseed, with all of their clever tricks, it’s not a lost cause. There are a few things you can do to make it more difficult for squirrels to empty feeders, and force them to go in search of food elsewhere. There are various methods in which a bird feeder can be made less accessible to squirrels, without lowering its appeal to birds. To best deter your local squirrels, test out a few different squirrel-proofing methods to see which work best for you.

1. Squirrel Baffles

Squirrel baffles are placed above and below bird feeders, made out of smooth plastic or metal. They should be at least 15-18 inches in width or length, in order to prevent squirrels from reaching or climbing around them. Some squirrel baffle designs are created to twirl or tilt under the weight of a squirrel as it attempts to climb onto them, throwing off their balance and preventing access to the feeder.

2. Seeds

Nyjer and safflower seeds are two types of birdseed that squirrels are less likely to continuously snack on. Both types of seed provide a slightly bitter taste and, while squirrels will generally sample whatever is in your bird feeder, they keep the birds happy while leaving the squirrels hunting elsewhere.

3. Traps

When squirrels become a big problem with your bird feeders, don’t waste time in contacting your local authorities in regard to obtaining and setting humane wildlife traps. Because regulations tend to differ based on location, you must research them to ensure you follow them to the letter.

4. Location

Since it’s well known that squirrels are capable of jumping more than 10 feet, it’s wise to strategically place feeders away from roofs, porches, trees, and wires, along with other points, in order to prevent them from accessing your feeders. Mounts, as well as hanging feeders, utilize a pole of at least 6 feet in height but require regular pruning of nearby bushes or branches.

5. Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders

Squirrel-proof feeders may be your best hope when it comes to beating these hungry rodents. Make sure to look for feeders that combine multiple features in preventing squirrels from chewing, or breaking in and stealing seed. Most of these bird feeders additionally deter chipmunks and, when combined with a baffle, they allow you to transform your feeder into Fort Knox.

Check the best squirrel proof bird feeder here.

6. Cages

Because squirrels are too large to squeeze through small wire openings, placing a wire cage around bird feeders gives another form of protection. These also help to prevent large birds who bully smaller birds, including pigeons, grackles and starlings. Mesh can also be added to feeders, such as chicken wire, to keep undesirables out.

7. Poles

Consider using additional layers of plastic tubing to surround poles, further deterring squirrels with covers. You can also grease feeder poles with products such as petroleum jelly, which helps by making it impossible for squirrels to grasp onto your poles, and prevent climbing.

8. Clean it

Detritus tends to colonize on the ground where seeds have fallen, further attracting squirrels to your feeders. Keeping the area clean will keep them from deciding to invade feeders directly, once the seeds on the ground are no longer available or fresh.

9. Slinky

If you want to get a little more enjoyment out of preventing squirrels, try using a Slinky in place of a baffle. You can thread a post through the Slinky, and drape it down the post – attaching one end under the feeder. Any rodents that attempt to climb the pole will get pushed right back down to the ground.

10. Distance

Typically, squirrels are unable to jump more than 5 feet vertically from the ground, or more than 7 feet horizontally from branch to feeder. Because they are reluctant to fall more than 9 feet above a feeder, you just have to keep the rule of 5-7-9 in mind when placing your bird feeder. This easy trick will help deter a majority of squirrels, by placing your station strategically away from launching points.

What Scents do Squirrels find Off-Putting?

Squirrels can be naturally deterred through the use of strong scents, including both live and concentrated peppermint oil. You can add a few drops to cotton balls, which are then placed in your garden, around feeders. Another product that assists in deterring squirrels is mothballs. Although they are deadly to moths, they are simply bothersome to squirrels.

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Rather than eliminating squirrels, many hobbyists opt to coexist with those who eat from feeders placed away from bird feeders. Squirrels are attracted to treats including corn, nuts, and berries, especially when they are in easily accessible stations. In turn, this allows birds to eat without any potentially aggressive competition and also lets enthusiasts observe the antics and intelligence of squirrels without throwing expensive seed down the drain.

In conclusion, it’s important to acknowledge how much of a part of backyard wildlife squirrels are, in addition to finches, cardinals, and jays. While squirrel proofing bird feeders is easily possible, in order to prevent rodents from feeding frequently, the occasional visit from a squirrel to any bird feeder is to be expected.

James T. Hume
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