Putting food out for the birds also means you’re likely to attract squirrels. It’s very frustrating seeing all the bird food disappear, when the birds are still hungry. There are things you can do to try to squirrel proof your feeders. Here are a few suggestions from the type of feeder to get to what you can put in bird seed to keep squirrels away
Those Pesky Squirrels
It can be very entertaining watching squirrels try to get to bird food. They are very athletic and acrobatic and if you try to prevent them getting to food, they usually find a way to do just that.
- They are good climbers so a squirrel proof pole for your bird feeder is a must.
- They can jump well so placing the feeder close to a fence or tree might encourage them to try to use it.
- They love nuts and seeds, just like birds.
- They are very clever and can find a way round most obstacles.
Here are our top tips to keep squirrels away from bird feeders.
Our 5 Top Tips
1. Add foods squirrels don’t like
If you use normal bird food, then squirrels will just take it and they won’t worry about leaving any behind either. There are some foods you can add to your bird food which will deter squirrels, but which birds love.
- Niger seeds: Squirrels don’t generally like niger seeds as they have a slightly bitter taste and they don’t like the smaller size.
- Safflower seeds: These also taste bitter and will put squirrels off.
- Capsicum: You could be forgiven for thinking this wouldn’t be the best thing to put in bird food, but birds love it. Cayenne pepper added to bird food is a great deterrent to squirrels as mammals are affected by the hot flavor. Birds are not affected so they will still eat the food you’ve put out for them.
2. Squirrel proof your feeder
Squirrels not only eat the food, but can also destroy your bird feeder, so buy one which won’t be destroyed if they manage to get on to it. If you invest in the right type of bird feeder, it will already include some squirrel proofing. If it doesn’t then you can still make your bird feeder squirrel proof quite easily.
- One style of bird feeder has spring loaded doors. If something too heavy rests on it, the spring will go off and the door will close, blocking off the food. If a squirrel tries to use the feeder, it will trigger the door and it will close. Birds are much lighter and will not trigger the doors when they come to feed.
- Another squirrel proof bird feeder has a cage around the outside. The mesh of the cage is big enough to let smaller birds through, but not big enough to allow squirrels in to feed. If you opt for this type of feeder you will need to be patient as birds may not use it for a few days while they get used to it.
3. Squirrel proof feeder pole
If a squirrel can’t climb up the pole, it can’t get to the feeder. They can climb wood easily, but stainless steel and aluminum make it hard for them to grip, but that’s not all you can do.
Adding a baffle to the pole can stop a squirrel in its tracks too. A baffle is a plastic dome which is usually 15-18 inches wide. It hangs over the pole and the squirrels quite simply can’t climb past. You may also find you have to add a baffle at the top of the feeder too to stop them jumping on to the feeder from above. If they land on the baffle it tips and they cannot grip, so they simply slide off.
Where you site your feeder can also have an effect on whether squirrels can get to it or not.
Keep your feeder as far away from trees as you can. Squirrels are great jumpers and can jump 10 feet and over. If your feeder is right by trees, they will easily be able to jump on it to get the food. Similarly porches, fences, outside roofs – keep your feeder away from anywhere where a squirrel could jump from.
5. Use a separate feeder
One method used by some people is to set the squirrels up with their own feeder. The theory here is that they come to your garden looking for food, so give it to them.
If you squirrel proof a bird feeder it makes it very difficult, if not impossible for them to get to the food. If you set them up with their own feeder in another part of the garden, they can feed there and may not go near the bird feeder.
What not to do!
It can be very frustrating trying to stop squirrels from getting at your bird feeder, and this frustration can lead to you doing things out of annoyance.
- Do not use poison. Poison around the garden or in the food can harm or kill other garden users, so try to avoid it.
- You may already have a cat, but don’t rely on them to get rid of your squirrel problem. They may hunt the birds instead.
- Glue traps and grease can do more harm than good. They can affect the birds as well as the squirrels and won’t stop the problem.