Squirrel-proofing Bird Feeders

May 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Birding Tips

Most bird lovers will put up a bird feeder in their garden hoping to attract a variety of wild birds to their immediate environment so that they can enjoy the curious antics of these delightful creatures from the comfort of their own home.

The plan may initially seem to be a good one and birds may soon flock to your feeder in every size, shape and color. Unfortunately this is not the only creature that may discover the new abundance of food and you may soon find yourself waging war on some pesky but cute squirrels. While these creatures are adorable, they tend to devour your bird seed, destroy your feeder and chase away all the birds you hoped to attract in the first place. Action needs to be taken from the start to ensure that your bird feeder continues to be the exclusive domain of birds instead of being overrun by squirrels.

For those who are not too fond of the DIY approach, there are a number of effective squirrel-proof bird feeders already available on the market. These include a caged feeder that allows small birds to have access to the seed but keeps squirrels out. You can also buy a squirrel baffle – a large, smooth dome that is fitted over the top of the feeder which makes it very difficult for squirrels to gain access to the feeder. If you do not want to spend too much money, there are a few home-remedies you can try. The first is mixing cayenne pepper in with the birdseed in your feeder. This does not seem to affect the birds in any way but is a major deterrent to squirrels. The same can be said of safflower seeds. If your feeder is on a stand you can cover the stand with a length of PVC pipe which seems to be slippery to squirrels and makes it difficult for them to climb. You can also coat the existing pole with something slippery, such as petroleum jelly, for the same reason.

Another, even cheaper alternative is using empty soda bottles to keep these pesky critters away. The bird feeder will need to be strung up in the air, at least five feet from the ground and twelve feet from the nearest potential launching point. A hole is made at the base of each bottle and the string is then strung through the mouth of the bottle and the hole at the bottom. There should be bottles on each side of the bird feeder. These then rotate if a squirrel is able to make his way onto the string that is holding up the feeder.

You can also try making peace with your squirrels by providing them with their own separate feeder which caters specifically to their tastes. Their favorite foods in order are: whole raw peanuts, sunflower seeds and whole or cracked corn. Limiting the quantities of these items in your bird feeder at the same time will also help. This may not keep them out of your bird feeder all together, but it might lessen their visits since they will already have everything they need in easy reach. In addition to this, squirrels are very territorial so once they have discovered their feeder they will likely mark it and keep other squirrels away for you.

Whatever method you choose, you will need to remember that squirrels can jump and climb incredibly well. They are also problem solvers and will work incessantly at figuring out the problem that you have spent hours creating for them. Because of this the best defense is often a combination of feeding them and squirrel-proofing your bird feeders.

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