QUICK SUMMARY ↬ The 6 most effective methods of keeping squirrels away from your bird feeders may include hanging feeders away from trees, using squirrel baffle, pepper spray, and covering.
Next to raccoons, squirrels are the bandits of the animal world! They eat just about anything. And if you’re one of the 52 million bird lovers across the country who enjoy feeding birds and other wildlife animals in your backyard, you know the frustration of trying to keep these little critters away.
In this article, we’ll talk about the six (6) most effective methods to keep squirrels out of bird feeders. For good.
6 methods to keep squirrels out of bird feeders
Not only do squirrels enjoy dining at your bird feeder, but they can also teach other squirrels how to raid it, too!
According to a study from the University of Exeter published on Science Daily, gray squirrels observe and learn from other squirrels. That’s why when one squirrel breaches the defenses around your feeder, others soon join in the fun.
With all of their clever tricks, it can seem impossible to keep squirrels out of bird feeders. However, you can do a few things to make it more difficult for squirrels to raid your feeder and force them to seek easier pickings elsewhere.
- Use bird feeder poles
- Use a squirrel-proof bird feeder
- Use a squirrel baffle
- Use a pepper spray
- Cover the poles
- Feed them away
Use bird feeder poles
Squirrels can bounce significant distances and move with incredible dexterity. But just follow the rule of 5-7-9. Generally, squirrels can’t jump more than 5 feet up from the ground, more than 7 feet across between two trees, and are reluctant to drop more than 9 feet onto a feeder from above. Place your feeder station with these numbers in mind to deter a large majority of squirrels.
If your feeder is 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet on each side from a launching place and 9 feet below an overhang, 90% of squirrels will be unable to jump onto a baffled feeder. If you add 6 inches to those dimensions, you should prevent 100% of squirrels from reaching the feeder.
If you don’t want to spend a dime for a squirrel-proof pole, just string a line between two trees as high as you can and place the feeder on the string away from the trees. Squirrels will have difficulty walking along a bouncing string and will have a tough time leaping to the feeder.
But even if you place your bird feeders in the middle of nowhere, they might still find their way to your feeders. So this theory is more appealing in theory than in practice.
Use a squirrel-proof bird feeder
Investing in a squirrel-proof bird feeder will pay a great dividend in the long run.
There are a lot of great bird feeders out there that employ unique strategies to cut off the food supply for squirrels.
A weight-sensitive squirrel-proof bird feeder will deny food if there’s too much weight on the perches of the feeder.
Some feeders are surrounded by a metal cage to stop squirrels. The openings in the enclosure are large enough for small birds to fly through but too tiny for squirrels to fit inside. Metal cages also work great to keep other wildlife animals off your feeders.
Others use batteries where the feeders will spin when a squirrel climbs on the feeder.
Use a squirrel baffle for your bird seed
A squirrel baffle is a plastic dome that attaches under a feeder. It forms a curved barrier that squirrels have trouble climbing over to reach the seed.
You can buy a baffle in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so look for one that meets your needs. Here are the three most popular:
A wrap-around squirrel baffle is great for keeping squirrels away from bird feeders. By creating a conical, unstable separation between the pole and the bird feeder, wrap-around baffles deter squirrels from stealing birdseed.
Torpedo baffles also keep squirrels away from bird feeders. These bullet-shaped baffles can turn any trafficked pole into a dead-end tunnel for scavenging squirrels. By turning a pole into a one-way street, you can divert rodent traffic away from feeders, birdhouses, and more.
Lastly, a dome baffle–which looks like an upside-down serving bowl–effectively keeps squirrels away from bird feeders. The steep curves and rounded edges of the spherical dome deter squirrels especially well. Plus, a dome baffle also provides extra protection from weather and predators to helpless birds.
You can easily find baffles online, and they are also available at well-stocked hardware and home improvement stores. You may want to try a variety of baffles to find out what works best.
Use pepper spray
Pepper is a natural squirrel deterrent. Apply a pepper-based repellent product directly to your feeders to keep them away from your offerings. Squirrels hate the taste and smell of spicy food, but birds don’t notice it.
Cover the poles
Adding layers of plastic tubing around poles may sometimes deter squirrels. Greasing poles with petroleum jelly can also make it hard for squirrels to grasp onto poles and prevent them from climbing.
Others find this downright inhumane as squirrels may sustain serious injuries if they slip, slide, or fall off a pole too quickly or clumsily.
Feed them away
If you can’t beat them, join them. Try feeding squirrels away from your bird feeder with a mix of cracked corn. By giving them their own feeding station, they’re less likely to stake a claim on your bird feeder.
By using a squirrel feeder, you will keep these squirrels out of your bird feeders because it’s easier to get the food.
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Keep squirrels off your bird feeders using harmless methods. The things we mentioned above are the ones we find the most effective way to deter squirrels from reaching your feeders.