Are you struggling to keep squirrels off bird feeders in your garden?
These persistent garden visitors can be very entertaining to watch, and many people enjoy having them around. However, squirrels are very clever when it comes to accessing bird feeders, and if you’re not careful, they can consume the majority of the food you put out for wild birds.
If you’re keen to make your garden wildlife-friendly by providing your local birds with a source of food, the local squirrel population can deny other species that support.
How to keep squirrels off bird feeders
In this article, we’ll cover ten humane ways to keep squirrels away from bird feeders without causing them harm. Read on to find out how you can restore the balance in your garden.
1. Make jumping a non-starter
Squirrels are natural jumpers. If they can reach your feeder by jumping, you’ve got a problem.
Positioning your feeders out of jumping reach is a simple way to make it harder for squirrels to access them. Make sure you factor in anything they can jump from – including tree trunks, tree branches, shrubs, buildings and garden ornaments.
Also bear in mind that squirrels can jump up to five feet high and up to ten feet horizontally. That’s probably further than you think!
2. Position in an open area
If you’ve positioned your bird feeders out of jumping reach, you may have already found a spot that’s out in the open. But if not, add this factor in before choosing your final location.
As well as preventing jumping, putting your bird feeders in an open area also creates a less ‘safe’ food source for squirrels. The lack of cover and increased exposure to possible predators might be enough to make squirrels think twice.
3. Use squirrel proof bird feeders
One of the easiest ways to keep squirrels off your bird feeders is to buy a squirrel proof feeder that’s specifically designed to prevent their access.
Features that deter squirrels include weighted perches, fly-through wire to allow small birds access, and smooth surfaces. Kingsyard have a wide range of products here: squirrel proof bird feeder | Kingsyard
4. Use a spinning hook
Some people swear by spinning hooks as a squirrel deterrent for bird feeders. Making a feeder rotate won’t harm squirrels, but it will encourage them to move away.
5. Hang feeders from poles
Squirrels are great climbers, and are capable of clever tricks, but they won’t find a smooth pole particularly easy to scale. Using a squirrel-proof bird feeder pole will mean squirrels have a tough time accessing your bird feeding station.
Hanging your feeders from a plastic or metal pole adds an extra challenge and limits the amount of bird food squirrels can grab. Avoid wooden poles as these will provide more grip.
6. Use a baffle
The clue is in the name. Baffles are designed to quite literally baffle squirrels in order to deter them from accessing a feeder.
A squirrel baffle is usually dome, cone or torpedo shaped. It can be attached to the bottom or top of feeders, or to feeder poles.
7. Refill little and often
It’s tempting to fill your feeders to the max, but this approach can encourage pesky squirrels to stick around.
A constant, plentiful supply of food is exactly what squirrels want, so they will make a beeline for your garden and keep coming back. In contrast, feeders that are less generous will encourage them to look for other food sources.
8. Use feed that squirrels don’t like
Apparently squirrels aren’t keen on some types of seed that are used in bird food. These include safflower seeds, niger seed (also called nyjer seed or thistle seed) and white millet.
You could try using feed that contains these seeds to make your feeders less appealing. Products may be labelled as “squirrel proof bird food”.
Another option is to use spicy birdseed that involves hot pepper. While birds won’t notice the heat, squirrels will, and they won’t be impressed.
9. Tidy up regularly
When birds dine at your feeders, seed will inevitably fall to the floor. This provides squirrels with a low-effort food source at ground level. And of course, it will also attract rodents.
Regularly clearing up around your backyard bird feeders will stop the problem before it starts.
10. Give squirrels their own feeders
Rather than trying to deter squirrels from bird feeders, you can simply lure them away by providing them with their own dedicated squirrel feeder.
You can buy feeders that are specifically designed for squirrels, and fill them with delicious food that they love, such as peanuts and sunflower seeds.
This is a great option if you love squirrels visiting your garden, but want to give our feathered friends a better chance at accessing their feeders.
As you can see, when it comes to deterring squirrels from bird feeders, you’ve got lots of options. By understanding their limits, and employing some simple tactics, you can keep squirrels out of garden feeders and make sure your outdoor space is a source of food for as many birds as possible.
More wildlife gardening tips
For more advice on making your garden a wildlife haven, take a look at these articles: