Timely Tips for Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeding
Squirrels can really take the fun out of backyard bird feeding. Squirrels are so clever and relentless and it seems sometimes that they’re smarter than most other animals, but your peeps at Droll Yankees® are here to help you get back to feeding the birds and thwarting the squirrels.
Bird feeder placement is key
Squirrels are impressive jumpers and are very acrobatic. This can create a bit of a challenge when trying to keep things out of their reach. Squirrels are able to rotate their feet 180 degrees, an extraordinary dexterity that makes them adaptable to almost any climbing situation.
The key to successfully keeping a bird feeder squirrel proof is its placement. Feeders should be placed at least 4 ft. above the ground and 8 ft. from any points from which squirrels can leap, because squirrels are agile and are able to jump up to 8 ft. horizontally and 4 ft. vertically. This prevents the squirrels from leaping to the feeder from a nearby structure or from jumping from the ground and grabbing onto the bottom. If you’re using a hook or a pole, we recommend that the hook have at least a 16 in. distance from the pole. It can also be helpful to trim back and prune any nearby bushes or branches within 12 ft. of a feeder, because squirrels will try every available angle to access food sources.
Keep the bird feeder area clean – remove seeds and hulls
Feeder station cleanliness is another great way to reduce the nuisance of squirrels. Keeping the area under a bird feeder clean by frequently clearing away excess dropped seeds and old seed hulls will make your bird feeder station less enticing to hungry squirrels (and other pests).
Beyond the basics of placement and cleanliness, there are also many squirrel proofing products available to help you protect your feeders from invading squirrels.
Baffle squirrels with squirrel baffles
Baffles are designed with squirrel tactics in mind. Squirrels are able to stretch and twist around almost anything, but these dome diameters are engineered to be wide enough so that even the most determined squirrels can’t defeat a properly placed squirrel baffle.
There are a variety of squirrel baffles that hang or pole mount to accommodate all feeders and feeding stations. Hanging baffles tilt and shift with the movement of invading squirrels to knock their greedy paws right off—squirrels can’t get a strong footing on the smooth surface of the dome! When placed a foot below the feeder, a pole-mounted squirrel baffle will prevent squirrels from climbing straight up a pole to access the feeder. Whichever baffle you choose, scheming squirrels will stop right in their tracks.
Feed birds (not squirrels!) with squirrel proof feeders
If you’re tired of trying to find clever ways to outsmart squirrels, bird feeders with squirrel proof features will save you time and effort! Some squirrel proof bird feeders are equipped with weight-sensitive features like a motorized spinning perch ring, collapsing perches, or a tilting seed tray that efficiently and quickly displace squirrels and discourage them from returning, while others have a built-in squirrel baffle to stop squirrels before they’ve even started.
Another great squirrel proofing option is to use a caged feeder, either purchased as a complete unit or created by adding retrofit cages around your tubular bird feeders. Choose products with sufficient distance between the cage and the food so squirrels can’t reach in. Cage your feeder in to keep squirrels out!
Fighting the good fight
Squirrels can be tough adversaries to beat. Tactics and tricks must be changed as often as squirrels catch onto them. Because they’re social animals and live in family groups, squirrels can actually pass down their skills from generation to generation, with young squirrels imitating their elders to foil squirrel proofing attempts. Some backyard birders simply appease the squirrels with separate squirrel feeders so that backyard birds and bird feeders are left undisturbed.
Whatever option you choose, always keep in mind the safety of the animals involved and don’t use any means that may harm the squirrels or backyard birds accidentally. Never grease poles. Grease can mat squirrels’ fur or coat birds’ feathers and cause serious injury. We would certainly discourage using any sort of projectile to deal with squirrel issues, as we wouldn’t want anything to accidentally happen to the wildlife.
With this squirrel proofing advice, we’re confident that you will successfully thwart the squirrels! By taking safe but effective steps, birders can reduce or eliminate squirrel presence at backyard bird feeders, making a happy habitat for everyone.