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Why it’s important to keep squirrels out of bird feeders

Having bird feeders in your yard can attract a wide variety of beautiful bird species, providing an enjoyable and serene experience for bird watchers. However, these feeders are not only attractive to birds but also to squirrels, who are notorious for raiding them. Squirrels can cause various problems such as scaring away birds, damaging feeders, and depleting birdseed supplies. This article provides proven tips and tricks to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders, allowing you to create a peaceful oasis for your feathered friends.

1. Choose the Right Bird Seeds

Select seeds that squirrels don’t like

Not all bird seeds are equally appealing to squirrels. By choosing seeds that squirrels don’t particularly enjoy, you can discourage them from targeting your bird feeders. Safflower seeds, for example, are a great option as squirrels tend to dislike their taste. Additionally, black oil sunflower seeds are known to be more attractive to birds than squirrels. Consider using a seed mix that contains these types of seeds to deter squirrels while still providing a delicious meal for your avian visitors.

2. Use Wire to Outsmart Squirrels

Create a wire cage or mesh to protect your feeders

Squirrels are excellent climbers and can easily access traditional bird feeders hanging from trees or poles. To outsmart them, you can create a wire cage or mesh around your feeders. This will allow birds to access the seeds while making it difficult for squirrels to reach them. Ensure that the openings in the mesh are small enough to prevent squirrels from squeezing through. By implementing this simple yet effective solution, you can protect your bird feeders from unwanted visitors.

3. Install a Squirrel Baffle

How to use a baffle to deter squirrels

A squirrel baffle is a dome-shaped device that you can install above or below your bird feeder to deter squirrels. When placed above the feeder, it prevents squirrels from descending onto it, while if placed below, it stops them from climbing up. Squirrel baffles are typically made of metal or plastic and can be easily attached to the feeder pole or hung from above. This physical barrier will frustrate squirrels’ attempts to access the bird feeder, effectively keeping them at bay.

4. Spice up Your Feed

Add spices or oils that squirrels dislike

Squirrels have sensitive senses of smell and taste. Taking advantage of this, you can sprinkle spicy substances like cayenne pepper or chili powder onto the birdseed. Squirrels dislike these strong flavors, and the scent will deter them from feasting on the seeds. Additionally, you can coat the bird feeder pole with a small amount of cooking oil or a commercial squirrel repellent. This makes the pole slippery and challenging for squirrels to grip, making it less likely for them to reach the feeder.

5. Feed the Squirrels, Too

Provide a separate feeding area for squirrels

Squirrels are natural scavengers, and by providing them with an alternative food source, you can redirect their attention away from your bird feeders. Set up a separate feeding area specifically designed for squirrels, stocked with squirrel-friendly treats such as peanuts or corn. This can be a simple platform or hanging feeder located away from your bird feeders. By satisfying the squirrels’ hunger elsewhere, you can reduce their motivation to raid your bird feeders.

6. Upgrade to a Caged Bird Feeder

Choose a feeder with a protective cage

If you find that squirrels are consistently outsmarting your efforts to keep them away from your feeders, it may be time to consider upgrading to a caged bird feeder. These feeders feature a protective cage surrounding the feeding ports, allowing smaller birds to access the seeds while keeping squirrels at a distance. Choose a feeder with narrow spacing between the bars to ensure that squirrels can’t reach the seeds or bypass the cage. This provides a foolproof solution to safeguard your bird feeders.

7. Opt for PVC or Copper Poles

Use squirrel-resistant materials for feeder poles

Squirrels are notorious for their climbing abilities, making it crucial to select the right materials for your feeder poles. PVC or copper poles are excellent choices, as squirrels find them difficult to grasp and scale. The smooth texture and absence of branches or grips deter squirrels from attempting to climb them. Furthermore, make sure there are no trees or other structures nearby that squirrels can use as launchpads to access the feeders. By using squirrel-resistant poles, you can make it nearly impossible for them to reach your bird feeders.

8. Keep Your Yard Tidy

Remove potential food sources and hiding spots for squirrels

Squirrels are attracted to yards that provide easy access to food and shelter. To discourage them from trespassing near your bird feeders, make sure to keep your yard tidy. Clean up fallen seeds, nuts, or fruits promptly, as these can attract squirrels. Trimming tree branches that provide an easy path to the feeders can also help. Additionally, consider installing motion-activated sprinklers or sound devices to startle squirrels and deter them from entering your yard altogether.

9. Deter Squirrels with Soap

Use soap as a natural squirrel repellent

Soap can act as a natural squirrel repellent due to its strong scent. Hang a bar of soap near your bird feeders or grate soap and scatter it around the base of the feeder pole. The scent will create an undesirable environment for squirrels, encouraging them to keep their distance. Alternatively, you can mix soap shavings with water and spray the solution on and around the feeders. This simple yet effective method can provide an additional layer of protection against these persistent critters.

10. Consider a Squirrel Stopper Pole

How a squirrel stopper pole can prevent squirrels from accessing feeders

A squirrel stopper pole is designed to effectively prevent squirrels from accessing bird feeders. These poles typically feature a baffle system that spins when weight is applied, making it nearly impossible for squirrels to reach the feeder. The spinning motion creates instability and discourages squirrels from attempting to climb further. By investing in a squirrel stopper pole, you can enjoy hassle-free bird feeding without worrying about squirrels invading your feeders.

Closing Thoughts

The importance of finding the right solution for your specific squirrel problem

Keeping squirrels out of bird feeders can be a challenging endeavor, requiring a combination of strategies that work for your specific situation. Experiment with different methods, and don’t get discouraged if it takes time to find the most effective solution. Remember, the ultimate goal is to provide a safe and enjoyable feeding environment for birds while keeping squirrels at bay. With patience and persistence, you can create a harmonious space where you can appreciate the beauty of nature and birdwatch to your heart’s content.


How can I tell if squirrels are raiding my bird feeders?

If you notice significant birdseed depletion, damage to your feeders, or droppings near the feeders, it’s likely that squirrels are the culprits. Additionally, if you spot squirrels actually feeding from the bird feeders, it’s a clear indication that they are raiding them.

Are there any home remedies to repel squirrels from bird feeders?

Yes, there are several home remedies you can try to repel squirrels from bird feeders. Some options include using spicy substances like cayenne pepper or chili powder, applying soap shavings or liquid soap around the feeders, or providing a separate feeding area specifically for squirrels with treats they enjoy.

Can I use a squirrel-proof bird feeder?

Absolutely! If you find that other methods are not effective, you can invest in a squirrel-proof bird feeder. These feeders are specifically designed to deter squirrels using mechanisms such as weight-activated perches, protective cages, or spinning motion baffles. They can provide an excellent long-term solution to keep squirrels away from your feeders.

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