Knowing how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders is important for those feeding birds in their yard. Besides, keeping squirrels away from bird feeders is necessary when there are many squirrels looking to feed on your feathered neighbors’ seeds.
If you are here after searching the Internet, you are in good hands and closer to preventing squirrels from dining on your bird seeds. Read on!
Table of Contents
- Ways to Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders
- 1. Implement the 5-7-9 Rule
- 2. Attach Squirrel Baffles
- 3. Use a Slinky
- 4. Line Soda Bottles On A Wire
- 5. Hang Soap Close To The Feeder
- 6. Appropriate Pole Materials
- 7. Upgrade to Caged Bird Feeders
- 8. Change Your Bird Seeds
- 9. Add Spice To Your Feed
- 10. Keep the Area Under The Feeders Clean
- 11. Remove Squirrel Shelter
- 12. Feed The Squirrels Separately
- What Not to Do
Ways to Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders
There are several ways to achieve a squirrel-proof bird feeder. If you have exhausted all the ideas you discovered and nothing really worked, then we have a few more squirrel repellent tips. It might take more than two of these to have bird feeders, no squirrels. Let’s get started. Make sure to take notes!
1. Implement the 5-7-9 Rule
This is the general rule that effectively deters squirrels from bird feeders. You need to mount your feeder five feet off the ground, with seven feet on each side from any launching place, and have nine feet under an overhang. It sounds easy in theory, right? But putting it into practice can be challenging.
Elevating your feeder is effortless because there is rarely a flying squirrel infestation. However, finding a place that is high and distant enough is tricky, especially when you see squirrels all over your neighborhood. They can jump from trees, roofs, and power lines, but you can still make this work alongside other tricks here.
2. Attach Squirrel Baffles
Squirrels can climb anything, including poles. Attaching an anti-squirrel baffle in addition to the 5-7-9 rule can hinder these pesky pests from reaching your bird feeder. Most squirrels cannot jump over a baffled feeder and climb up from below.
3. Use a Slinky
Toy slinkies are inexpensive squirrel prevention bird feeders. If you don’t have one lying around your house, you can purchase it offline or online. Thread it through the pole and fasten one end under the feeder. Then, let it hang down but shorten it if its length touches the ground. This will stop squirrels from climbing bird feeder poles.
4. Line Soda Bottles On A Wire
Squirrels have mastered walking on high wires with their impressive agility. It makes hanging feeders an easy win for them. What you can do to stop them is stringing soda bottles.
String a wire from one pole to another and suspend your bird feeder in the middle; make it at least five feet off the ground. To stop squirrels from using their tight-rope trick, line the wire with litter-size plastic soda bottles on both sides of the feeder. When a squirrel tries to approach, it will roll right off.
5. Hang Soap Close To The Feeder
Dangle soap, specifically the Irish Spring soap, to deter squirrels. This soap’s masculine and musky scent is said to keep these pesky pests away, including unwanted rodents.
Put a small soap bar inside an old sock to protect other wildlife, and hang it not too far from your feeder. Do this in the winter or when the heat is not too intense; otherwise, it can turn the soap into a mess in a few hours.
6. Appropriate Pole Materials
There are many kinds of poles to hang your feeder. Metal and wood are effortless for squirrels to scale, so opting for copper piping, or PVC is more ideal. If you prefer building a homemade pole, you can pick these materials.
7. Upgrade to Caged Bird Feeders
The caged design works excellently in keeping squirrels and bullying birds like pigeons and grackles. This is ideal if you have finches and chickadees roaming around your area. But it is less effective if the Deep South squirrel, which is smaller in size, is scattered in your region.
A wire mesh enclosure has relatively large holes that will not restrict smaller birds. You can construct one from chicken wire or purchase a cage that can fit your feeder. Large ones are available in the market and can be placed around feeding stations and several feeders all at once.
8. Change Your Bird Seeds
Birds are not particularly picky when it comes to scavenging food. Squirrels, on the other hand, love sunflower seeds, nuts, corn, and fruits. Unless you are trying to attract a specific bird species, consider changing the food in your feeder.
Squirrels dislike safflower seeds, white proso millet, and nyjer seeds. You can switch to these exclusively, and it will eliminate the squirrels for good. But mixing these with the usual bird seeds you use might be enough to keep them out.
Read more: List of birds that like millet.
9. Add Spice To Your Feed
Birds and squirrels have distinct taste buds, and avians cannot perceive spiciness and heat, unlike people and squirrels. While this tip is said to be a myth, dropping a spoonful of what smells like dried cayenne pepper into your seed bag is an effective way to stop squirrels in their tracks. One sniff or taste can drive squirrels out of your feeders.
Capsaicin is a compound in spicy food that gives us a spicy feeling. The nerves in our mouth react to this, and squirrels are mammals, so you can say they detest it. Some birders say the spicy seeds can disturb birds’ eyes. But they don’t have any major adverse effects.
10. Keep the Area Under The Feeders Clean
A messy yard is like a magnet for squirrels. Birds are sloppy when they dine and often leave a trail of fallen seeds on the ground under the feeders. Squirrels like foraging for seeds, and the mess your feathered neighbors leave is what these pests are attracted to. Once they find their way to your yard, they are less likely to return.
There are two things you can do to deal with the mess. First is to clean up your yard, especially the area under your bird feeder. The other one is to secure a large tray at the bottom of your feeder to catch the seeds. This way, you discourage squirrels and other pests like raccoons and rats.
11. Remove Squirrel Shelter
Check your vicinity for any squirrel homes. They could be in the attics, under eaves, or old sheds. Remove these shelter locations and ensure they don’t make a convenient refuge near your feeders. That way, squirrels are less likely to visit your yard.
12. Feed The Squirrels Separately
This might seem counterintuitive since you don’t want to attract the pesky squirrels. However, having a separate feeder for squirrels can keep them away from your bird feeders. Offer them their favorite foods, like corn on the cob and peanuts. They won’t go foraging and attacking feeders when they have their own.
Sometimes, we become frustrated with squirrel-proofing methods that do not work. But before you go for other tricks not listed here, get to know the specific techniques that you should never use to manage squirrels.
What Not to Do
- Setting poisoned seed or bait for squirrels will not only affect them but also other wildlife. Inappropriately used poisons can lead to dead birds like raptors that prey on smaller mammals such as squirrels.
- Shooting squirrels is prohibited in many states. This applies not only to a specific weapon but also to dart guns, BB guns, and slingshots. Besides, it is also likely to injure birds.
- Glue traps are used to eradicate rodents, but they can also trap birds. These kinds of traps are cruel and dangerous. Most squirrels are too large and often left with brutal injuries. This is ineffective in addressing your squirrel problem.
- Releasing cats to hunt squirrels can backfire. They are a threat to your feathered neighbors too. You cannot train them to only go after the squirrels since they do not discriminate against their prey.
- Adding oil or grease to make your pole slippery so the squirrels can’t climb them is proven futile. In addition, it can stick to birds’ feathers and other animals’ fur, leading to illness and contamination.
You can try halting the feeding for a few days or weeks if all else fails, and it might encourage the pesky squirrels to find another food source.
All these “how to keep squirrels out of bird feeder” tips have been attested by many homeowners with bird feeders. Dealing with squirrels, especially clever ones, can be a serious nuisance and interruption to your bird watching. We hope that the information in this article can help you handle the pesky pests. With what we presented on how to create squirrel-resistant bird feeders, you are bound to find one that works best for you.
If you have tried any of our tips, let us know in the comments. We love hearing about your experiences!