Are you an ardent bird lover? Do you love feeding all those birds around you? Do you keep up late at night just to ensure your bird feeder is generously stocked?
Well, then you are just like me. If our passions are the same, it means chances are that our problems might be the same as well.
Yes, you guessed it correctly. Squirrels are a common problem for you, me, and all bird feeders alike. Especially in suburbs where squirrels are residents as much as humans.
So if you too are desperate for ways to protect your feeders from the pesky squirrels, stay with us till the end of the article. We have discussed the types of squirrels likely to be found near your bird feeders and also listed some ways to squirrel-proof your bird feeder.
Types of Squirrels Likely to Attack Bird Feeders
Though most squirrels are likely to attack bird feeders, the most common of them is the gray squirrel and the fox squirrel. These two are commonly found around suburbs seeking nuts, seeds, and all foods they like.
Gray squirrels are of course light gray and quite large. They have a white underbelly and long and bushy tails. They can descend in vertical places by going headfirst with their hind ankles rotated at 180 degrees. So if you have your bird feeder attached to a pole, beware of these cuties.
The upper part of their body is brownish-gray in color while the lower is yellow or yellowish-brown. These squirrels can make leaps up to 5ft in height. So your bird feeders are hardly safe from them.
Now that we know which types are prone to attack your feeders let’s see how you can deter them from doing so.
Understanding squirrel behavior is essential when it comes to keeping them away from bird feeders. Here are some important points to consider about squirrel behavior:
Squirrels are known for their impressive jumping abilities. They can jump horizontally up to 10 feet and vertically up to 4 feet. This means that they can easily jump from nearby trees, fences, or structures to access bird feeders.
Squirrels have powerful teeth that can easily chew through plastic, wood, and other materials. They can quickly damage bird feeders or even create holes to access the bird food.
Squirrels are adaptable animals that can quickly learn and adapt to new situations. They can overcome many obstacles that people put in place to prevent them from accessing bird feeders.
Squirrels are social animals that live in groups. This means that if one squirrel discovers a food source, other squirrels in the area will quickly learn about it and try to access it as well.
Squirrels are persistent creatures that will try various methods to get to bird feeders. They can climb, jump, and even hang upside down to access food.
Time of day
Squirrels are most active during the day, but they can also be active at night, especially in areas with artificial lighting.
Squirrels can be territorial and will defend their food source against other squirrels or animals that try to access it.
Understanding these behaviors can help you choose a squirrel-proof bird feeder that is most effective in keeping squirrels away from the bird food.
Ways to Squirrel-Proof Your Bird Feeder
Height is The Key
Place your bird feeder as high as possible. This is not foolproof, because as we saw squirrels are awesome jumpers. But still, keeping it at a decent height makes it a little difficult for the pests to reach. They might not be able to reach it in one try and after many tries might deem it unworthy and move on to some other food source.
Remove the Launches
Suppose your feeder is too high and a squirrel is unable to make the required jump. But luckily for the squirrel, there is a table placed at an angle of roughly 60 degrees from the feeder. The intelligent ball of furs will jump on the table and use it as a launchpad to reach the bird feeder!
So to remove these kinds of fortunate accesses, remove all lowly elevated objects (like chairs, tables, decks, flat fences, etc) that the pests can use as launchpads.
Use a Squirrel Baffle
A squirrel baffle is a cone or dome-shaped device that is placed above or below the feeder to prevent squirrels from climbing up or down the pole. Make sure to choose a baffle that is large enough to cover the entire feeder.
Get Rid of the Extras
Sometimes food from the bird feeder itself may drop on the floor. Now a squirrel who did not know about the bird feeder will be automatically attracted to the area. And once it has an idea about it, the place becomes an open market for all squirrels around.
So make sure to clean up every evening after the birds.
Not only food but keep the place under your bird feeder clean of all wastes so that there is nothing to attract other pests and give away the location of your feeder.
Spin the Squirrels
You can get rotating hooks to hang your bird feeders from. Or you can get spinning bird feeders also.
The prospect of getting a nice spin is a huge deterrent for the critters.
Though be careful to not hurt them with it, only annoy and repel them.
Change the Seeds
If nothing seems to keep these annoying critters away from your bird feeder, switch the seeds inside the feeder. Reportedly, when a bird feeder changed their seeds from sunflower to safflower, the bird food per se became unappealing for the squirrels. Whereas there was not any problem with the birds themselves.
You can also mix some cayenne pepper powder in the food as some birds do like the heat associated with pepper.
Make the Pole Difficult
There are three ways to make the road to the feeders difficult for squirrels.
First, squirrels are great tree climbers so it is effortless for them to climb wooden poles. They are also a pro at navigating the metal poles. But it is not easy for them to climb PVC poles or even copper ones. So get a plastic or copper pole to hang your bird feeder from.
Secondly, if even plastic is not helping, apply some oil on the body of the pole. This will make it difficult for the squirrel to get a grip to climb.
Thirdly, get a slinky. Attach it towards the top. It is very difficult for critters to bypass that. They climb up the pole, but as soon as they reach the slinky it comes down taking the squirrel with it.
Provide an Alternative Food Source
If all else fails, consider providing a separate feeding station for squirrels away from your bird feeder. This can help to distract them and reduce their interest in your bird feeder.
DIY Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Baffle Bird Feeder
A baffle is a cone-shaped or dome-shaped device that can be installed above or below a bird feeder to prevent squirrels from climbing up or jumping down to the feeder. You can make your own baffle by cutting a large plastic or metal plate into a cone or dome shape and attaching it to a pole or tree above or below the bird feeder.
PVC pipe Bird Feeder
A PVC pipe can be turned into a squirrel-proof bird feeder by attaching a cap and a coupler to one end and drilling holes for the birds to access the seed. The pipe can be mounted on a pole or hung from a tree.
Wire mesh Bird Feeder
A wire mesh bird feeder can be made by wrapping a wire mesh around a cylinder-shaped container and securing it in place. Fill the container with birdseed and hang it from a tree or pole.
Slinky Bird Feeder
A Slinky toy can be used as a squirrel deterrent by attaching it to the top of a bird feeder pole. Squirrels will have a hard time climbing up the pole due to the slippery nature of the Slinky.
PVC elbow Bird Feeder
A PVC elbow can be turned into a bird feeder by attaching a cap and a coupler to one end and drilling holes for the birds to access the seed. The elbow can be mounted on a pole or hung from a tree.
DIY Soda Bottle Bird Feeder
Take a plastic soda bottle. Puncture in holes to accommodate perches with twigs etc. Make them so the birds don’t bump into each other while feeding. Cut some portions on the body of the bottles. The cuts should be made keeping in mind the seed size. Attach a hanger to hang it from somewhere. Fill the bottle with seeds.
Your bird feeder is ready!
But what has also happened is that you have made a squirrel-proof bird feeder. How? Well, the plastic bottle’s dimensions and the material prevent the grip of a squirrel. As soon as they jump on it they start slipping down.
To make your work more effective apply oil to the body of the bottle. This further hinders the squirrel’s grip.
When making a squirrel-proof bird feeder, it is important to make sure the feeder is secure and sturdy to prevent it from falling or tipping over. You should also use birdseed that is appropriate for the birds in your area and keep the feeder clean to prevent the spread of disease among
- Try not to use grease as a lubricant to hinder the squirrels’ grip. It might get stuck in their fur and not be easily removable.
- Ensure that the slinky you use is enough to bring the weight of the squirrel down.
- Be careful when mixing peppers in seeds. Do not mix too much or it will irritate the birds’ eyes.
Keeping and maintaining a bird feeder is in itself a huge task. Adding to that, chasing squirrels away from it makes it more hectic.
See, squirrels attack your bird feeders for food. But if you can keep a separate plate of food for them away from the feeder, then these critters are likely to remain busy on their turf, and your bird feeders might stay safe.
We have not mentioned this on our list because it is not possible for everyone to afford the additional investment required for the procurement of a squirrel diet at regular intervals.
Those who can, we suggest, try it out if you want. This will keep another living species fed. Otherwise, the list we gave you works out too.
Hope this article was helpful enough!