Last Updated on

Anyone who has bird feeders will understand the annoyance of squirrels. Squirrels love food. They also love food presented to access – easily like a bird feeder! Therefore, it is essential to know how to squirrel-proof a bird feeder if you have one in your garden.

We look at this below and provide some valuable tips to help stop squirrels from stealing food from your bird feeders!

How to Squirrel-Proof your Bird Feeder: Tips and Tricks

It is possible to buy squirrel-proof bird feeders online or from many shops. However, there is no fun in that! It is far more rewarding and interesting to try and keep squirrels off your feeders using your skill and craft!

As you can see from the seven steps below, there are many different ways to squirrel-proof a bird feeder. It may often require several or even all of these tips to stop these furry animals from their quest for gluttony!

Tip 1: Add a Squirrel Baffle Underneath and Above Your Bird Feeders

When looking at how to stop squirrels from eating bird food, the first thing you can do is add baffles to your feeders. A shop-bought squirrel proof bird feeder typically comes with a squirrel baffle, but you can easily build your own if you don’t have one.

An animal perched on a pole beneath a baffle

There are two types of baffle – the underneath baffle and the hanging baffle.

The underneath baffle is positioned on the feeder pole, underneath the actual feeder. The idea is that it prevents squirrels from climbing up the pole – they essentially reach the underside of the baffle and get stuck.

The hanging baffle does the same but stops squirrels from jumping down onto your feeder or bird table. This is usually a cone shape installed at the top of your bird feeder pole, above the feeder. When a squirrel tries to jump onto the feeder, it hits the hanging baffle instead and falls harmlessly to the ground.

Tip 2: Add a Squirrel Proofing Cage around your Bird Feeders

Another thing you could potentially do is add a metal cage to your bird feeder. A cage will deter squirrels, and if installed correctly and with the correct size gaps, it should prevent squirrels from stealing your seed completely.

The idea here is that the cage has large enough holes for birds to get through and access the seed. However, the holes are too small for squirrels to fit through.

You can easily create DIY cages using chicken wire or malleable metal mesh. Cut a sheet a little longer than the height of your feeder. It should have enough length to wrap around the feeder fully. You can then secure the cage to a hanging baffle.

Ensure that it is secured properly and where the sheet joins is also secure. Squirrels have been known to pry these cages open!

Tip 3: Use Weight-Triggered Shutters Over the Bird Feeder Hatches

If you don’t want to buy a squirrel proof feeder, you could then invest in weight-triggered shutters for the one you already have. These are simple contraptions that are weight-sensitive. When a bird lands on the feeder, its weight doesn’t trigger anything. The bird can access the feeding ports and eat undisturbed!

However, a squirrel’s weight is far greater. As a result, when they land on the feeder, they trigger a mechanism that automatically shuts the feeding ports.

It can be tricky to make these systems yourself. However, plenty of manufacturers create bird feeders complete with weight-triggered shutters.

Tip 4: Consider Placing Cayenne Pepper Onto the Bird Food

Like humans, squirrels have a great sense of taste, and surprisingly enough, they will not eat certain things. However, birds do not taste the same way we do, and you can use this to your advantage.

A great way of squirrel proofing bird feeders is to add cayenne pepper or hot pepper mix to your birdseed.

Things like Cayenne pepper contain capsaicin which is the main cause of that hot taste sensation in our mouths when we eat spicy peppers and chilli. This is usually uncomfortable, and most people have a low tolerance for it. Squirrels are no different.

If you mix pepper powder into your birdseed, it should keep squirrels away. They might attempt to eat it once, but they will hate the hot taste and thus be deterred. The great thing about this is that small birds are not affected by capsaicin. They can happily eat the birdseed mixed with pepper and still have a pleasant feeding experience!

Tip 5: Provide a Dedicated Feeding Station for the Squirrels

This step requires planning and forethought, but it can be incredibly successful.

As well as preventing squirrels from accessing your bird feeders, why not give them a valid reason NOT to try and steal the bird food?

You can easily do this by creating a separate squirrel feeding station. The station should be nowhere near your bird feeders. Also, it should ideally not be on the floor – the squirrels should have to climb to reach it. For example, you could place it in a tree.

You can buy squirrel feeders that have a similar design to bird feeders. They are usually rectangular with a triangular roof and made from wood. At the front, they have a hatch and maybe a small tray underneath that the squirrels can sit on to eat their nuts.

If these pesky critters have their food source, they are less likely to bother your birds!

Tip 6: Re-Position Your Squirrel Stopper Pole to Prevent Squirrels From Jumping

One of the best manners to keep squirrels from your bird feeder is positioning the feeders. Many people mistake having their bird feeders attached to walls, on fenceposts, or hanging from trees.

Top view of two feeding station for birds

While these might be excellent spots for the birds, they are also excellent for the squirrels!

Did you know that squirrels can jump up to 5ft from the ground and 7ft from a wall or tree to a hanging feeder?

As a result, you should ideally use a bird feeder pole that is positioned away from any potential jumping points. You could also measure the distance to ensure that the pole feeder is at least 8ft from any trees, fences, or your house.

The further away you can place your bird feeder from other objects, the less likely squirrels will jump onto it.

Tip 7: Choose Bird Feed That Squirrels Don’t Like!

Like humans, squirrels have a selective taste. Admittedly, they have a wide palate and will eat most foods. However, there are some particular bird foods that they will usually not touch!

This is a simple and effective way to squirrel proof bird feeders without spending a fortune or needing DIY skills.

Three well-known foods that squirrels generally don’t like include:

  • Safflower Seeds
  • Nyjer Seeds
  • White Proso Millets

If you fill your bird feeders with these foods, the squirrels will be far less likely to try and steal them. Bear in mind that not all garden birds may like these seeds either. Safflower seeds are versatile, but larger birds like crows may not like them.

Bird Feeding 101

To finish, we have provided some general bird feeding tips. These tips can help make your outdoor space safer for birds and squirrels.

1. Keep Your Bird Feeding Station Clean

One of the best things you can do for your squirrel-proof feeders is to keep the area clean.

Bird feeders and the surrounding area get dirty quickly. This is a combination of bird droppings, spilt food, and general debris. If this isn’t sorted, it can cause hygiene issues for the birds.

Make sure you regularly clean your feeders. This should include removing the birdseed and completely wiping the feeders. Also, wipe the bird feeder pole, the baffles, and any platforms you have suspended or on the floor.

2. Remove Any Excess Seeds From the Ground to Prevent Rodents

Any outdoor food supply can potentially attract rodents. Therefore, you must clean up any spilt bird food surrounding your feeder poles from the floor.

If you have a separate squirrel feeder, do the same for this. Some people feed squirrels on the ground and have special trays for them. This can work, but it can also attract rats – be careful when doing this, and consider if it could cause a problem.

3. Never Harm the Squirrels!

Unfortunately, some people are cruel to animals. Many people don’t have the patience or care to keep squirrels from stealing bird food without harming them.

For example, some people will put poison on the ground and around the feeder to kill the squirrels. Others may even go so far as to shoot, trap, and kill them directly.

Please don’t do this! Most squirrels are timid and only want food. They are not harmful by nature, and it is perfectly possible to keep many squirrels away from bird feeders without harming them. You need to be willing to put in a little extra effort to protect bird feeders in your garden.

Some people use things like petroleum jelly and grease on their feeder poles. This can work, but it can also cause problems for the squirrels. For example, it can get stuck in their fur, and they can also ingest it. Avoid using substances like this on your poles, baffles, and bird feeders.

4. Be Patient and Use Trial and Error With the Different Methods

Often deterring squirrels from bird feeders is like an ongoing war. You may find that using one method alone in time isn’t enough.

For example, you may first start by installing squirrel baffles. These may initially work, but the squirrels may find a way around them. At this point, you would then need to add additional squirrel deterrents!

Be vigilant and patient. Also, be prepared to use trial and error and potentially rethink your action plan – squirrels can be incredibly crafty and determined!

Bird Feeder FAQs

Can Bird Feeders Attract Predators?

Yes. Larger birds, birds of prey, and predators like cats are often attracted to a bird feeder. It is important to deter them and be vigilant. This is simply a case of warding them away when you see them making it clear your garden is not their restaurant!

Can Hot Foods and Spices Harm Birds?

For the most part, no. Spicy seeds and things like hot pepper do not affect birds at all. They will still eat food covered in things like this, whereas squirrels will not like it!

How to Keep Squirrels Off Bird Feeders Easily

We hope you found our tips on how to squirrel-proof a bird feeder useful. Having a squirrel deterrent in your garden is a great way to protect your birds and ensure their food supply.

You should have gathered some great ideas about what to do and how to make your garden a better place for all animals. Please be aware that squirrels are incredibly intelligent and resourceful! There is no guarantee that these methods will work, and you may have to try several different approaches.

However, this can be part of the fun – trying to outwit the average squirrel!

Additional Resources

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.