I like squirrels, I really do. I think they are cute and fun to watch. I love their playfulness, and I can even admire their intelligence and tenacity. What I tend to find annoying is the critters’ apparent belief that they are entitled to a large portion of the somewhat costly bird food that I keep our bird feeders stocked with. This is the primary issue that I have with those cute and furry squirrels.
My husband and I have been feeding wild birds for almost 20 years. This being the case, we have tried most if not all of the options available for making a bird feeder squirrel proof. The following is a list of the squirrel-proofing ideas that we have made use of over the years.
Placement of feeders – We try to place our feeders in such a way that it is difficult for the squirrels to get to them. Squirrels can jump pretty far, but why make it too easy for them? When possible, place feeders high off the ground and away from buildings, trees or anything else they can climb in order to gain access to your bird feeders.
Squirrel Baffles – Squirrels can easily climb the poles that most bird feeders are mounted on. Adding a squirrel baffle is an inexpensive way to help prevent squirrels from climbing up a mounting pole. For feeders that are hung from a hook, a squirrel baffle can be placed above the feeder so that squirrels are unable to climb down to it.
Wire Cages – Another option to squirrel proof a feeder is a wire cage that is used to enclose a tube feeder. The spacing of the wires is such that it allows birds access to the feeder but not squirrels. A caged bird feeder can be an effective deterrent but can also prevent medium and large sized birds from getting to the feeder as well. Depending on the types of birds you want to attract to your feeders, this can be either an advantage or a disadvantage.
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders – A few bird feeder manufacturers have designed some very clever feeders that use the squirrel’s weight to either tip the squirrel off the feeder or close the feeding ports so that it can’t get to the food. We have tried a couple of these feeders, and they do work very well. It is without a doubt the most expensive of the options listed here, so that’s something to take into consideration.
There is one final option that while not 100% effective does greatly cut down on the amount of food that squirrels take from your feeders, and that is to simply feed the squirrels their own food. Wildlife food can be purchased from most bird stores or online, and it is generally less expensive than bird food.
This works best if you can set up a separate feeding station for the squirrels away from the general area of your bird feeders. As long as you continue to feed the squirrels in this way, they will have less interest in stealing bird food out of your feeders. This is what we do. We enjoy watching the squirrels’ antics just as much as the birds, so we figure they deserve to have their lives be made a little easier, too.