Mad About Berries

How To Keep Squirrels Out Of Bird Feeders

The animated squirrel, a prevalent sight worldwide, is renowned for its fluffy tail and quick movement. These creatures, although adorable and lively, are infamous for their vast and somewhat indiscriminate dietary habits.

Typically omnivores, squirrels consume an extensive range of food, from plant matter and seeds to small insects. Their curious nature and superior problem-solving abilities often lead them to bird feeders, much to the dismay of bird enthusiasts. They are enticed by the prospect of an effortless meal, often depleting resources meant for avian visitors and potentially causing damage to the bird feeders themselves.

Published: August 14, 2023.

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How To Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders

Keeping squirrels at a distance from bird feeders is a challenge faced by many birdwatchers and homeowners. Fortunately, multiple strategies exist to deter these persistent creatures.

Offer Food That Squirrels Don't Like

One such tactic is to utilize food that squirrels find unappetizing. Despite their diverse diet, squirrels tend to avoid safflower seeds and nyjer (thistle) seeds. Birds, on the other hand, greatly enjoy these seeds.

By providing these, you ensure a continuous supply of food for your avian friends while dissuading squirrels from frequenting the feeders.

Place Bird Feeders Away From Trees

Another vital component of your squirrel deterrence strategy is the placement of your bird feeder. If a feeder is situated too close to trees, squirrels can easily leap onto it.

By distancing bird feeders about 10-12 feet away from trees and overhangs, you present a more challenging hurdle for squirrels.

Place Bird Feeders High

Along with distancing your bird feeders from trees, positioning them at least five feet off the ground and 9-10 feet down the branch or pole can make them less accessible to squirrels, reducing their ability to leap, climb, or reach the feeder.

Use Squirrel Baffle To Protect The Bird Feeder

Implementing squirrel baffles and slinkies can also be advantageous in defending your bird feeder. A squirrel baffle is a dome or cylinder-shaped device that is fixed above or beneath the bird feeder.

The baffle's slippery surface and shape obstruct squirrels from securing a grip, causing them to slide off before reaching the feeder.

Use Slinky (Seriously) To Protect The Bird Feeder

Similarly, affixing a slinky to the pole of the bird feeder offers an amusing yet effective deterrent. When a squirrel attempts to scale the pole, the slinky stretches and promptly contracts, causing the squirrel to descend back to the ground.

Use Squirrel-Proof Feeder Pole

Investment in squirrel-proof feeder poles or bird feeders can provide additional defense. These specific items are designed to counteract the agile climbing and leaping prowess of squirrels.

Squirrel-proof feeder poles generally have a baffle incorporated into the pole, while squirrel-proof bird feeders possess mechanisms that close feeding ports upon the landing of a squirrel.

Use Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder

Such bird feeders operate by closing their feeding ports when they detect the weight of a squirrel, thereby preserving the food for the birds.

Keep The Area Around the Bird Feeder Clean

Cleaning the vicinity of your bird feeder can also deter squirrels from repeated visits. Regularly sweep away any spilled seeds and debris to reduce the attraction for squirrels.

Spice Up Bird Seeds

A more unconventional approach is to infuse your bird seeds with a bit of spice. Birds are unaffected by capsaicin—the compound that gives hot peppers their heat—whereas mammals, including squirrels, are sensitive to it.

By adding a small quantity of capsaicin powder to your bird seeds, you can discourage squirrels without harming the birds.

Feed The Squirrels

Alternatively, setting up a separate feeding station for squirrels can satiate their hunger and decrease the likelihood of them invading your bird feeder.

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Avoid Using Harmful Methods Of Keeping The Squirrels Away

While our goal is to keep squirrels at a distance from bird feeders, it's crucial to remember that they form an integral part of our ecosystem. Any deterrent methods employed should not cause harm or inflict stress upon these creatures.

Avoid methods that could physically injure squirrels, such as sticky substances or poisons. It's important to always strive for a balance that respects all wildlife forms.

Few Final Words

In summary, maintaining bird feeders free from squirrels can be a complex task, but it is not an impossible one.

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Implementing a combination of methods—offering less desirable food for squirrels, strategic feeder placement, using baffles or slinkies, investing in squirrel-proof equipment, maintaining cleanliness, introducing spicy seeds, and even feeding the squirrels—can all contribute to preserving your bird feeder as a haven for birds.

The objective is not to harm or eradicate squirrels but to coexist with them harmoniously, allowing us to enjoy the beauty and presence of our feathered friends without interruption.

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