12 Tips on How to Keep Squirrels OUT of Bird Feeders

Tori Rhodes
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Install a squirrel proof bird feeder

It is impossible to keep them away from the feeders if you don’t have them. There are variety of squirrel proof bird feeders available in the market. These protective feeders are sturdy and the gap between the perches are too small for squirrels. Mimic hummingbirds, also known as flower power, can protect your precious bird food from these desperate rodents. These hummingbird feeders are designed so the hummingbirds can feed without any interference from squirrel.

The bird feeders using nets work well. The mesh type, multi-strand feeders are very popular with these rodents. But they have a very tough time feeding from it.

Some of you could go for the older designs such as the tabletop feeders.

The squirrels have to jump from a big tree or climb tree close to the feeder to reach the feeder. But the squirrels can do this easily. It’s impossible to keep them out.

It’s therefore necessary to keep your feeders protected with the right squirrel proof feeders.

The feeder location is the secret key

Because squirrels are both daring and extremely capable, it’s best to take all possible steps to keep them away from your feeder. You can check our guide to feeding birds without a trough for more information.

Now that you have your feeder and you know the types of feeds that are recommended, you need to find a good location for it.

I strongly suggest that you place your feeder at least 6 feet off the ground. This will avoid the “reachability” of squirrels.

You also need to place the feeder away from trees and bushes which will give them places to leap from. Instead, place it at the end or in the middle of a lawn.

It would also be wise to place the feeder on the north side of your home to feature it in the sunlight and avoid heating from a southern exposure.

You may also consider adding a baffle. This will keep squirrels off. The baffle (an umbrella-like device) will prevent your birds from being harassed by squirrels. A baffle will also keep the squirrels from taking over your feeder space.

There are several ways to baffle your feeder. Some are quite complex but you can make it at home.

Offer foods that squirrels don’t like

Squirrels find delight in a variety of nuts and seeds but not all of them. Peanuts and walnuts are their favorites. So if you’re trying to get rid of squirrels, get rid of peanuts and walnuts!

Provide them with sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. They enjoy them but not as much as they enjoy walnuts and peanuts.

You probably have a great variety of squirrel-proof bird feeders. Why not get one more? This Squirrel-Be-Gone tube feeder is a great all-round feeder with an innovative design that deters squirrels from taking the seed from the feeder.

Its tapered design makes it difficult for squirrels to access the seed. The metal perches are also uncomfortable for squirrels, so they will likely pass the feeder by.

Plus it looks great. It’s a premium quality squirrel-proof feeder made of metal that does not rust.

This gift for bird lovers is also easy to set up. Just fill the tube with seed and let the birds eat at will. You will be able to refill the feeder without even touching it.

Use a separate squirrel feeder (decoy)

You can make your own squirrel feeder (also called decoy) from a plastic bottle and a few pebbles. Cut off the bottom part of the bottle, and make a hole so that birds can eat the seeds.

Squirrels are attracted by bright colors and keep their distance. You can attract the squirrels away from the bird feeder by hanging bright colored feeders.

Hang them at different heights to discourage squirrels from climbing onto them. This will keep them away from the prize and prevent them from stealing bird food.

For very keen squirrels, you can use ultra-violet sensitive tape. If the squirrels are not seen on the decoy feeder immediately after you hang it (in about 30 minutes), hang the feeder elsewhere in the garden.

Most birds adapt to these black and white patterns and eventually ignore them.

Spice it up

Squirrels hate the taste of hot peppers. You can either string hot pepper slices or whole pepper around or near your feeder. They are also crafty, so you’ll have to replace them once they chew through.

Install a squirrel-proof feeder pole

So why won’t squirrels eat? When they are very young, they do eat, but their diets generally consist mainly of insects, nuts, seeds, eggs, nestlings, frogs and salamanders. As they grow up they begin to supplement their diets with vegetation and fruits. They also become less dependent on protein and in October they will begin to gather and stockpile food. Their diet changes daily as they feast on their favorites and then move on to whatever they can find.

When it comes time to hibernate in the cold winter months, the typical squirrel’s metabolism slows down significantly. They store enough food to carry them through the winter, and they also begin to build their fat and muscle reserves. During the hibernation months they do not eat, drink, urinate or defecate. I guess that’s how they can sleep for a whole 6-8 weeks! No wonder they make so much noise when they first wake up, they must be ravenous!

To increase the odds of having a successful squirrel-proof year, here are some tips.

Install a squirrel baffle

Instead of getting into a fight with squirrels, just block off access to your bird feeders with a squirrel baffle.

They come in many shapes and sizes from one-way hinged baffles to solid metal baffles. The main idea is that squirrels and other rodents will be trapped inside while birds are free to enter the feeder.

Grease the feeder pole

Squirrels won’t climb an oily pole. Spreading a thick layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the pole will keep squirrels from climbing the feeder pole to get to the seed. It’s best to first clean the pole with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. When the pole dries, add a layer of the grease and wait a few minutes for that layer to harden prior to applying additional layers.

Keep the ground clean

Squirrels prefer to feed off the ground and avoid anything that takes them too high. If you leave the ground clear for your birds, squirrels will struggle to get close to the bird feeder pole.

Use a slinky

The simplest thing you can do to deter Big Ears from getting to the seeds is to poke a slinky into the bird feeder. It’s that easy. You can poke the slinky through a funnel and into the bottom of the bird feeder. Just make sure that it is anchored so that it doesn’t fall out.

Get a dog

We guess you already heard of pet squirrels, but you probably didn’t know that they can be your best friend when it comes to having squirrels around!

Get yourself a dog and it will chase the squirrels off your trees. They are both instinctively afraid of each other and dogs will chase off the squirrels.

Remove potential shelter

Make sure there are no cozy spots in your yard that are ideal as a hiding place.

Remove the debris from the corners of a garage or storage shed.

The takeaway

Don’t forget to keep feeders well maintained with fresh seed.

Long-time bird watchers often say the worst thing you can do is provide food for birds, and then ignore it!

Maintenance is the key to success with any bird feeder, and squirrels are no exception.

The first few times you see a squirrel on your feeder, shoo them off. And then take a look to see how the squirrel is gaining access.

Usually, it’s through a gap between the feeder and the mounting bracket.