How to Keep Squirrels Away from Your Bird Feeder
By: Stan Horst
Few things are more frustrating than being continually outwitted by a squirrel on a mission to steal food from the bird feeder in your yard. While I can’t offer any guarantees, if you follow the tips below, you should be able to stop squirrels from raiding your bird feeder, so you can get back to bird watching.
Place Bird Feeder Out of Reach
Squirrels are more than capable of jumping up to eight feet horizontally and 11 feet down in search of food. Although you may love having your bird feeder adjacent to your favorite tree, it’s best to move it at least 12 feet from anything squirrels can use as a launching pad to make a crash landing onto it.
Bird Feeder Baffle
If moving your bird feeder isn’t an option, a squirrel baffle should do the trick. Shaped like an upside down bowl, the baffle is placed on the pole below your bird feeder to shield it from hungry squirrels. If you have a hanging feeder, position the baffle above the feeder. In either case, the determined squirrel jumps onto the baffle then slides down to the ground.
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Some bird feeders employ a sleeve that slams shut when anything heavier than a bird lands on the bird feeder. In the same motion, the feeder pushes the squirrel to the ground then resets to allow access to birds in search of food. A similar feeder, called the Yankee Flipper, spins whenever a squirrel jumps onto it, flinging the intruder to the ground.
Switch Bird Seed
There are a number of foods which birds love that squirrels don’t like to see on the menu. These include white millet for house finches, suet for nuthatches and woodpeckers, nyjer for goldfinches, and safflower for a variety of songbirds. Substitute these foods, and squirrels will go elsewhere to dine.
Try Hot Peppers
Another successful deterrent is adding hot peppers—such as chilies, jalapeños, or habaneras—to your bird feed mix. If you think this might be cruel to birds, don’t worry. Birds love them, but squirrels eat peppers once and don’t get back in line for seconds.
Add Second Feeder
A final option is to put out a second feeder just for squirrels that’s easy for them to reach. By doing this, you can have the best of both worlds—watching the antics of squirrels while still being able to enjoy the birds at the same time.
In my yard I’m happy to report that the birds now feed at their feeder and the squirrels at theirs.
I think in the end, we are all happier. And now, instead of being just a birdwatcher, I’m a bird and squirrel watcher!
About the Author
Stan Horst spends most of his days outdoors, running Cabin Creekwood with his wife and business partner, Deb, where they accommodate visitors from all over the world. A former carpenter, Stan also remains closely tied to his other love, wood. As the publisher of betterbenches.com, Stan also sources quality benches for consumers.
- How to Make a Squirrel and Raccoon Bird Feeder Baffle (article)
- Wild Bird Feeding Basics (article)
- How to Make a Suet Bird Feeder (article)
- How to Make a Bird Seed Wreath (article)