November 15


Expert tips to prevent squirrels from raiding bird feeders: Tried and tested tricks to keep pesky critters away

How to keep squirrels away from bird feeders – 5 must-try tips from the experts

If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are you have had encounters with wild squirrels invading your gardens and landscape. These playful creatures can quickly become a nuisance, especially when it comes to bird feeders. Thankfully, there are several squirrel-proofing techniques that can help keep these pesky animals away from your feeders.

Dick Hajara, the founder of a popular birding blog, shares some creative ideas to spice up your feeding routine while keeping squirrels at bay. “Squirrels are persistent little acrobats,” Hajara explains. “They are smart and can find a way to access your birdseed, which can cause a serious loss for both you and the birds.”

One effective method Hajara suggests is to use a cayenne pepper deterrent. “Squirrels have a strong sense of smell, and the scent of cayenne pepper is detestable to them,” he says. “Sprinkling a bit of cayenne pepper around your bird feeders or mixing it in with the birdseed can deter squirrels from the area.”

Alternatively, you can also try using safflower or sunflower seeds in your bird feeders. Birds love these seeds, but squirrels find them unappetizing. This way, you can ensure that the food is only for the birds and not the squirrels.

Keeping your feeders clean and free of spills is another crucial step in squirrel prevention. “Squirrels are attracted to the smell of food residue on bird feeders,” says Hajara. “Regularly cleaning and sanitizing your bird feeders will make sure there is no leftover food to entice these pests.”

Hajara also recommends using metal perches rather than wooden ones. Squirrels have sharp teeth and can easily chew through wooden perches to gain access to the birdseed. Metal perches are more resilient and can deter squirrels from reaching the food.

By following these expert tips, you can enjoy a peaceful and squirrel-free backyard while also providing a safe and abundant food source for your feathered friends.

Keep squirrels off your backyard bird feeder with these 5 top tips

Squirrels can be a nuisance in your backyard, especially when they start raiding your bird feeders. To keep these pesky critters away and ensure that your feathered friends can enjoy their meal in peace, here are 5 expert-recommended tips:

  1. Choose the right seed: Opt for seeds like safflower that squirrels dislike but are still loved by birds. Safflower seeds have a bitter taste that keeps the squirrels at bay.

  2. Invest in squirrel-proof feeders: There are specially designed feeders available that make it difficult for squirrels to access the food. Look for feeders made of metal or with squirrel-resistant features such as weight-sensitive perches.

  3. Keep the feeders clean: Ensure that your bird feeders are free from any spilled seed or debris. Regular cleaning not only prevents the buildup of mold and bacteria but also removes tempting food sources for squirrels.

  4. Spice it up: Sprinkle cayenne pepper or hot sauce on the bird seed to add a spicy deterrent for squirrels. While birds are unaffected by the spice, squirrels find the taste unpleasant and will be discouraged from eating.

  5. Alter the landscape: Make your garden less squirrel-friendly by keeping trees and branches at least 10 feet away from bird feeders. This reduces the chances of squirrels jumping onto the feeders from nearby trees.

By following these tips, you can keep squirrels away from your backyard bird feeders and ensure that the birds have a peaceful dining experience. For more information on bird feeding and keeping pests at bay, subscribe to our newsletter and get expert advice delivered straight to your inbox.

1 Consider the position of your bird feeder

1 Consider the position of your bird feeder

When it comes to keeping squirrels away from your bird feeders, the position of the feeder is key. Consider the following tips when deciding where to place your feeder:

  • What type of bird feeder do you have? Different types of bird feeders may attract different types of birds, and squirrels may have different methods of accessing the birdseed depending on the feeder design.
  • Choose a location that is less accessible to squirrels. Avoid placing your bird feeder near trees, fences, or other structures that squirrels could use to gain access to the feeder. Squirrels are excellent climbers and can easily leap onto feeders that are too close to such objects.
  • Consider using a metal pole for your bird feeder. According to Hajara Dick, founder of the bird feeding information website SeedtoSquirrel, metal poles are harder for squirrels to climb than wooden or plastic ones.
  • Place your feeder in an area that is difficult for squirrels to reach. For example, you could hang the feeder from a high branch or use a feeder with perches that are too small for squirrels to balance on.
  • Alternatively, place your feeder in a squirrel-proof enclosure. There are many squirrel-proof bird feeders available on the market that use various mechanisms to deter squirrels while still allowing birds to access the food.
  • Consider the type of food you are offering. Squirrels are often attracted to sunflower seeds, but they are less likely to bother with safflower seeds, which many birds still enjoy. According to Dick, safflower seed is a great option for keeping squirrels away from your bird feeders.

By considering the position of your bird feeder and implementing these tips, you can create a squirrel-free feeding area for the birds in your garden or backyard. Keep in mind that it may take some trial and error to find the best placement and squirrel-proofing methods for your specific landscape and conditions.

For more tips and ideas on keeping squirrels away from bird feeders, you can subscribe to SeedtoSquirrel’s newsletter to receive expert advice and information directly to your inbox.

2 Add a baffle to your feeder

2 Add a baffle to your feeder

One effective way to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders is by adding a baffle. A baffle is a device that creates a barrier between the squirrels and the bird feeder, making it difficult for them to access the seeds.

There are several types of baffles available, including dome-shaped baffles that can be attached above the feeder or cylindrical baffles that can be placed on the feeder pole. These baffles work by preventing squirrels from climbing up the pole or reaching the feeder from above.

To install a baffle, make sure it is positioned at a height that is at least 4 feet from the ground and at least 10 feet away from any trees or other structures that squirrels can use to jump onto the feeder. This will make it less likely for squirrels to find a way around the baffle and access the birdseed.

You can purchase baffles from bird feeder supply stores or online retailers. Alternatively, you can make your own baffle using common household items like metal sheeting or PVC pipe. Just make sure the baffle is stable and securely attached to the feeder pole.

Adding a spicy twist to your baffle can also help deter squirrels. Squirrels do not like the taste of cayenne pepper, so you can sprinkle some around the baffle or mix it with birdseed to keep them away. However, make sure to keep the pepper away from the bird feed, as it can cause discomfort to the birds.

By adding a baffle to your bird feeder, you can greatly reduce the chances of squirrels accessing the seeds and keep them both out of your garden and away from your bird feeders. It’s a great way to ensure that the birdseed is only enjoyed by the birds in your backyard.

3 Opt for squirrel-proof bird feeders

If you’re tired of squirrels raiding your bird feeders and eating all the food meant for your feathered friends, it’s time to invest in squirrel-proof bird feeders. These specialized feeders are designed to keep squirrels out while still allowing birds to access the food.

There are several types of squirrel-proof bird feeders available on the market, each with its own unique features. Here are some popular options:

  1. Weight-activated feeders: These feeders are equipped with a mechanism that closes off the feeding ports when a squirrel’s weight is detected. This prevents the squirrels from accessing the food while allowing the birds to feed freely.
  2. Cage-style feeders: These feeders have a wire cage around the seed holder, with openings too small for squirrels to fit through. The birds can easily reach the seeds through the cage, but the squirrels are left empty-handed.
  3. Squirrel-proof baffles: These are dome-shaped or tube-shaped devices that can be placed above or below the bird feeders. The smooth surface of the baffle makes it difficult for squirrels to climb or jump onto the feeder, keeping them at a distance.

When choosing a squirrel-proof bird feeder, it’s important to consider the size and type of birds you want to attract. Some feeders may be better suited for smaller birds, while others can accommodate larger species.

Additionally, make sure to place the feeders in a safe and accessible location for the birds. Avoid placing them too close to trees or fences, as squirrels can easily jump from these structures onto the feeders. Opt for open areas or use pole systems to deter squirrels.

By investing in squirrel-proof bird feeders, you can create a peaceful and enjoyable feeding environment for birds while keeping pesky squirrels at bay.

4 Keep it clean

Keeping your bird feeders and the surrounding areas clean is another effective way to deter pests and squirrels from accessing the birdseed. According to bird and garden experts, pests like squirrels are attracted to the scent and residue left behind by spilled or old birdseed. By regularly cleaning the feeders and the ground beneath them, you can help prevent squirrels and other animals from being drawn to your bird feeding area.

Hajara Dick, the founder of Birds & Blooms, suggests regularly cleaning your bird feeders with soap and water to remove any leftover food or debris. It’s also a good idea to clean the ground beneath your feeders to eliminate any seeds or other food sources that may attract squirrels.

In addition to regular cleaning, you can also try using spices to deter squirrels from your bird feeders. Some experts recommend sprinkling cayenne pepper or other hot spices around the base of the feeders or mixing them with the birdseed. The spicy scent and taste will often deter squirrels from attempting to access the food.

Alternatively, you can consider using squirrel-proof feeders. These feeders are designed with mechanisms that make it difficult or impossible for squirrels to access the birdseed. They typically have metal perches that are too slippery for squirrels to grip, and some models even have weight-sensitive mechanisms that close off access when a squirrel tries to feed.

Keeping your bird feeding area clean has additional benefits aside from deterring squirrels. According to Dick, regularly cleaning the area helps prevent the buildup of mold and other harmful bacteria, which can cause disease in birds. Clean feeders and a clean feeding area also create a more hygienic environment for the birds and can help prevent the transmission of diseases between birds.

So, don’t forget to regularly clean your bird feeders and the surrounding areas to keep them squirrel-free and maintain a healthy feeding space for your backyard birds.

5 Deter squirrels with spice

5 Deter squirrels with spice

If you’re looking for a natural and effective way to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders, using spice can be a great option. Squirrels have a strong sense of smell, and they are not fans of spicy flavors. By incorporating spice into your bird feeder setup, you can deter squirrels from eating the birdseed and ensure that the food is reserved for the birds.

1. Cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is known for its spiciness, and squirrels find it unpleasant. Sprinkling cayenne pepper on the ground around your bird feeder and on the birdseed can help keep squirrels away. However, be careful not to put too much pepper, as it can also deter birds. Start with a small amount and monitor the situation.

2. Hot sauce or chili powder

If you don’t have cayenne pepper on hand, you can use hot sauce or chili powder as an alternative. These spices contain capsaicin, which gives them their heat. Mix a small amount of hot sauce or chili powder with water and spray it on the birdseed. This will add some spice to the seeds and make them less appealing to squirrels.

3. Safflower seeds

Another spice-related deterrent for squirrels is safflower seeds. Squirrels tend to dislike the taste of safflower seeds, so using them as your primary birdseed can help keep squirrels at bay. Birds, on the other hand, enjoy safflower seeds, so you can still attract them to your feeders while keeping the squirrels away.

4. Submitting squirrel-proof perches

One of the ways squirrels access bird feeders is by using perches or platforms. Consider using squirrel-proof perches that are specifically designed to deter squirrels. These perches are usually made of metal or other materials that squirrels find difficult to grip onto. By adding these perches to your feeders, you can prevent squirrels from reaching the food.

5. Keep the feeding area clean

5. Keep the feeding area clean

Squirrels are attracted to bird feeders not only for the food but also because they can scavenge for leftovers. To discourage squirrels, make sure to keep the feeding area clean. Regularly remove any spilled seeds or leftovers from the ground and clean the feeder itself. This will make the area less enticing for squirrels and reduce their presence in your backyard or garden.

Using spice to deter squirrels from bird feeders is a natural and effective method. Whether you choose to sprinkle cayenne pepper, use hot sauce, opt for safflower seeds, or invest in squirrel-proof perches, these tips can help you keep the squirrels away and create a peaceful environment for the birds to enjoy.


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