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How To Squirrel Proof Your Bird Feeder

If you’ve installed a bird feeder hoping to enjoy watching beautiful birds, you might be in for a rude awakening. Squirrels could steal all the bird seeds long before your feathered friends get there. So, let’s look at how to squirrel proof your bird feeder to help you prepare beforehand.

Upside down squirrel at the bird feeder.
Image Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Bird feeding can be an extremely rewarding hobby, but it can also be extremely annoying if you don’t take time to squirrel-proof the bird feeders. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to discourage your furry friends from partaking in the feast you have set out for the birds.

If you cannot attract birds to your garden, your backyard may not be bird-friendly. The presence of squirrels is a considerable deterrent to birds dropping by, as squirrels are famous for chasing away birds and eating eggs and nestlings. Therefore, a yard in which squirrels are welcomed will not welcome too many birds.

How To Squirrel Proof Your Bird Feeder

Let’s look at how to deter the squirrels from eating your bird seed.

  1. Place bird feeders away from trees and fences – Squirrels have been known to leap to at least ten feet high, so when placing your feeders out, avoid placing them near trees, wires, and fences. Bird feeders mounted on smooth metal poles are ideal.
  2. Be clean – always maintain the area under the feeder, frequently removing old seed or seed hulls from the ground. Debris, as well as spilled seeds, will attract squirrels.
  3. Keep squirrels out with special netting – One of the most effective ways is to encircle existing feeders with a wire cage device with holes small enough for only smaller birds to enter. This is great for keeping out larger birds, such as pigeons and starlings, in addition to the squirrels.
  4. Baffles are great – They are ingenious and work exceptionally well. Place either metal or plastic baffles above and under the feeders. These should be designed in a sloping way to prevent squirrels from reaching around them. The best designs are the ones that tilt and spin once the squirrel climbs onto them, thus preventing the squirrel from accessing the feed.
  5. Restrict seed supply – Though somewhat notorious for sampling a variety of seeds, squirrels are not particularly fond of safflower and nyger seeds. If you use these seeds exclusively, then you will certainly get less squirrel traffic coming your way.
  6. Attach a slinky to your bird feeder pole –  the squirrels won’t be able to get up the pole. See the video below for instructions on how to install this.

Create a squirrel feeding station

If all else fails, try compromising with the squirrels instead of trying to eliminate them (which may not be entirely possible). Create a squirrel feeding station just for them. Fill it with stuff they like eating: corn, nuts, and other delicacies for squirrels. Chances are, if they have lots of squirrel-friendly food at their level with easy access, they will leave the birds alone with their ‘feast.’

After all, they are just as much a part of nature as the birds are! Then you won’t need to learn how to squirrel-proof your bird feeder and enjoy both squirrels and birds 😉

Keep Squirrels Away From Things You Love

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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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Wednesday 29th of March 2023

There's a birdseed mix available that is infused with capsaicin - the 'heat' from hot peppers. Squirrels, in fact all mammals will react the way you do when you eat very hot peppers, and thereafter will avoid the bird seed.. But apparently it does not affect birds. They are not bothered by the capsaicin, and it is just another valued nutrient in their diet. I tried it this winter. Worked well.

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Monday 21st of January 2019

Best thing I have done is to switch to safflower seeds. No squirrel problem


Tuesday 22nd of January 2019

Tanks for sharing. Great idea to try!