If you’re an avid bird lover who enjoys feeding birds and other wildlife animals in your backyard, you’re probably familiar with the frustration of pesky squirrels raiding your bird feeders. These clever critters can quickly learn from each other and find ways to access your feeders, making it seem impossible to keep them at bay.
However, there are several effective methods you can employ to deter squirrels and protect your bird feeders. In this article, we’ll explore the six most reliable techniques to keep squirrels out of bird feeders for good.
The six most effective methods for keeping squirrels away from your bird feeders include:
- Hanging feeders away from trees
- Using squirrel baffles
- Applying pepper spray
- Utilizing squirrel-proof bird feeders
- Covering the poles
- Feeding squirrels away from your bird feeders
Now, let’s delve into each method in more detail and discover how to implement them effectively.
1. Hanging Feeders Away from Trees
Squirrels are highly agile creatures that can bounce significant distances and move with remarkable dexterity. However, there are specific dimensions you can follow to make it more difficult for squirrels to access your bird feeders.
The rule of 5-7-9 provides a useful guideline: squirrels generally can’t jump more than 5 feet up from the ground, more than 7 feet across between two trees, and are reluctant to drop more than 9 feet onto a feeder from above.
By positioning your feeder station with these numbers in mind, you can deter a large majority of squirrels. For instance, if your feeder is 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet on each side from a launching place, and 9 feet below an overhang, around 90% of squirrels will be unable to jump onto a baffled feeder. To achieve maximum effectiveness, you can add 6 inches to these dimensions, ensuring that 100% of squirrels are prevented from reaching the feeder.
In situations where you don’t want to invest in a squirrel-proof pole, you can string a line between two trees as high as possible and place the feeder on the string, away from the trees.
Squirrels will have difficulty walking along a bouncing string and find it challenging to leap onto the feeder. However, it’s important to note that even when feeders are placed in secluded areas, squirrels may still find their way to them, so this method is more appealing in theory than in practice.
2. Using Squirrel Baffles
Squirrel baffles are effective devices that prevent squirrels from accessing bird feeders. There are different types of squirrel baffles available, each with its own design and installation method. Here are two popular types:
- Cylinder or Tube Shaped Squirrel Baffles: These cylindrical baffles can be attached to a bird feeder pole below the feeder. The logic behind them is to widen the pole’s girth, making it difficult for squirrels to climb up to the feeder. To enhance their effectiveness, it’s recommended to also move your feeder far from trees and other objects that squirrels can use as launching points.
- Dome-Shaped Squirrel Baffles: Dome baffles are designed to be mounted above the bird feeder. They have a rounded shape that prevents squirrels from climbing down onto the feeder. When a squirrel lands on the baffle, it will tip, causing the squirrel to fall off. These baffles are easy to install and maintain and provide additional protection from weather and predators for the birds.
When using squirrel baffles, it’s important to ensure that they have smooth, unbroken edges. This prevents squirrels from finding footholds and climbing over the baffle. You can purchase squirrel baffles online or at hardware stores, or you can even make your own using materials such as large stainless steel mixing bowls.
3. Applying Pepper Spray
Pepper spray can be an effective natural deterrent to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders. Squirrels dislike the taste and smell of spicy food, while birds are unaffected by it. To use pepper spray, apply a pepper-based repellent product directly to your feeders. This will discourage squirrels from approaching and raiding the feeders, while still allowing birds to enjoy the food. Make sure to follow the instructions on the product label and reapply the pepper spray as needed.
4. Utilizing Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders
Investing in squirrel-proof bird feeders is another effective way to keep squirrels away from your feeders. These feeders are designed with innovative mechanisms that prevent squirrels from accessing the food. Here are a few types of squirrel-proof bird feeders:
- Weight-Sensitive Feeders: These feeders have perches that close off access to the food when too much weight is applied. When a squirrel tries to feed, its weight triggers the mechanism and shuts off the access points, preventing it from reaching the food. Birds, on the other hand, are light enough to access the food without triggering the mechanism.
- Caged Feeders: Caged bird feeders are surrounded by a metal cage with openings large enough for birds to enter but too small for squirrels to fit through. This design allows birds to feed undisturbed while keeping squirrels out.
- Spinners or Motorized Feeders: Some squirrel-proof feeders utilize batteries and spinning mechanisms. When a squirrel climbs onto the feeder, it triggers the spinning motion, which startles the squirrel and prevents it from accessing the food. Birds are unaffected by the spinning motion and can continue to feed undisturbed.
By using squirrel-proof bird feeders, you can ensure that only birds have access to the food, while squirrels are deterred from raiding the feeders.
5. Covering the Poles
Adding layers of plastic tubing or greasing the poles can make it more difficult for squirrels to climb up and access your bird feeders. By covering the poles, you create a slippery surface that squirrels will struggle to grip onto. However, it’s important to note that this method may not be suitable for everyone, as some consider it to be inhumane and there is a risk of squirrels sustaining injuries if they slip or fall off the poles too quickly or clumsily.
6. Feeding Squirrels Away from Your Bird Feeders
If you find that squirrels are persistent and continue to raid your bird feeders despite your efforts to deter them, you can try feeding them away from your feeders. Set up a separate feeding station specifically for squirrels, offering a mix of cracked corn or other squirrel-friendly food. By providing an alternative food source for squirrels, you can divert their attention away from your bird feeders and reduce their incentive to raid them.
In conclusion, keeping squirrels out of bird feeders can be a challenging task, but with the right methods and strategies, you can successfully deter these pesky critters. By hanging feeders away from trees, using squirrel baffles, applying pepper spray, utilizing squirrel-proof bird feeders, covering the poles, and feeding squirrels away from your bird feeders, you can create an environment that encourages bird feeding while keeping squirrels at bay. Choose the methods
that work best for your specific situation and enjoy a squirrel-free bird feeding experience in your backyard. Happy bird watching!