Bird feeders are the perfect addition to any nature lover's yard. Simply fill it with seeds or other feed and birds will come visit your space year-round. But the bird feed can attract other animals as well, who might not be as welcome. Squirrels can be particularly pesky and eat all the seeds, leaving none for your feathered friends. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to squirrel-proof your bird feeder to prevent squirrels from stealing the food or attacking the birds you're trying to attract.
Squirrels love to eat many of the same bird seeds many people stock in their bird feeders, including black oil sunflower seeds, nuts and suet. To avoid losing seeds for your birds, implement these easy-to-follow tips and advice to quickly squirrel-proof your bird feeder:
Squirrels are avid jumpers and climbers, and many people unknowingly place their bird feeders in spots that squirrels will have no trouble reaching. To thwart squirrels from reaching your bird seeds, set up your bird feeder away from trees, wires, porches or gutters. Instead, it's best to hang feeders on a six-foot pole away from surrounding trees or bushes. With a highly placed feeder, the bird will be able to enjoy their seeds in peace.
Cages are one of the easiest ways to rid your bird feeder of pesky squirrels. Some bird feeders already have squirrel-proof cages around the seeds, but it's simple to place a wire cage around it yourself. This will prevent squirrels from eating up the seeds, but still allow access for birds. This cage will make your feeder accessible only for smaller birds, so it will also prevent large birds such as crows or grackles from reaching the seeds as well.
Deterring squirrels from gobbling down your bird seed can be as simple as adding a few small devices to your bird feeder such as baffles and spinners. A baffle is a metal device designed to deter squirrels and other large animals from accessing a bird feeder. The baffle is usually placed above or below the feeder and tilts once a squirrel climbs onto it in pursuit of bird seed. This keeps the animal off balance and unable to reach the bird feeder.
Spinners are the same basic idea -- devices that spin and disorient the squirrel, making it more difficult for the animal to get to the feeder. But instead of placing the tool above or below the feeder, spinners are used on bird feeders that hang from horizontal wires and are strung along the sides. Spinners can be anything you can string that spins, such as plastic bottles, empty thread spools, etc.
If you're not worried about using copious amounts of bird seed, you can keep squirrels and other large mammals away from bombarding your bird feeder by creating a separate area for them to eat. Though squirrels will perform amazing acrobatics to reach food, if you provide them with a more accessible food source they will forget about trying to reach the bird feeder. Simply place a food source for the squirrels on the ground far away from your bird feeder to create a diversion and keep them from warding off the birds you're trying to attract.
Although squirrels are attracted to most types of bird seeds, there are a few types that they don't like to munch on. Squirrels are less attracted to Nyjer seeds and safflower seeds because of their bitter taste, but the seeds still attract many birds including finches and sparrows.
Mixing in some spice, such as cayenne pepper or chili powder, into your bird seed can be a simple way to make squirrels avoid your feeder. Birds don't respond to the compound, capsaicin, that creates a burning sensation whenever you eat something spicy. Squirrels, on the other hand, do. This spiciness should be enough of a deterrent that after a squirrel gets its paws on a handful of spicy sabotaged seeds, it won't return for more.
There are many squirrel-proof bird feeders available on the market that secure your feeders from disruptive squirrels. Here are some of the most effective:
This bird feeder is guaranteed squirrel-proof -- the model has a ring around the bottom that allows birds to perch and reach the seeds. If a squirrel pulls itself onto the feeder, its weight will automatically close the seed ports around the ring, denying the squirrel any feed without harming the critter. You can adjust the amount of weight the feeder can support before triggering and closing the ports.
Buy it on Amazon for $84.75.
This feeder works similarly to the Squirrel Buster feeder in that it has a weight limit you can calibrate that will automatically shut off access to the food. On top of being an effective bird feeder for cutting off access to squirrels, this model looks like a charming little house that will add cuteness to your yard, is easy to set up and refill, and it can can be either hung or mounted on a pole.
Buy it on Amazon for $26.53.
This bird feeder comes equipped with a squirrel-proof cage that will also deter large birds. The design only allows smaller birds such as finches and sparrows access to the four food ports.
Buy it on Amazon for $14.97.
If you already have a bird feeder and are trying to ward off pesky squirrels, this product is essentially a plastic squirrel baffle you can easily add. The dome-shaped baffle is 12 inches in diameter, blocking all of the available space for any squirrel to reach the seeds on your feeder.
Buy it on Amazon for $14.95.