How to keep squirrels out of bird feeders

How To Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders – 8 Proven and Successful Ways

Last Updated: June 7, 2023By

Are you tired of squirrels constantly raiding your bird feeders, leaving nothing for your feathered friends to enjoy? You’re not alone! Many backyard bird enthusiasts face this challenge every day. Sometimes you just want to keep the birds away from nesting in your porch but when it comes to keeping squirrels away, it can be a real challenge.

Key Takeaways

  • Investing in a squirrel-proof feeder is one of the most effective ways to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders. Look for feeders that have weight-sensitive perches or spinning mechanisms that deter squirrels.
  • Placing the feeders out of reach by hanging them high and away from trees, using spinning hooks, or creating barriers around them can also reduce squirrel access.
  • Offering alternative food sources for squirrels such as corn, sunflower seeds, peanuts, or even apples can be an effective way to redirect their attention away from bird feeders.
  • Avoid choosing cheap or ineffective squirrel – proof feeders and instead invest in quality materials like metal or polycarbonate plastic to withstand persistent attempts by clever squirrels.

Understanding Squirrel Behavior And Attraction To Bird Feeders

Squirrels are notorious for their incredible agility, intelligence, and determination when it comes to finding food sources. These small mammals have an innate ability to memorize the location of various feeding spots within their habitat.

Consequently, their persistence in attempting to access bird feeders is driven by the temptation of an easy meal.

One key aspect of squirrel behavior that makes them so successful at raiding bird feeders is their remarkable jumping prowess. Squirrels can jump up to 8 feet horizontally and scale vertical surfaces with relative ease.

This enables them to effortlessly leap from trees or other perches onto unsuspecting bird feeders if they are placed too close to such launch sites. Moreover, squirrels possess sharp teeth and strong jaws which allow them to chew through various materials including wood, plastics, and even metals in some cases.

Understanding these behavioral characteristics helps us devise practical strategies for keeping squirrels away from our feathered friends’ dining areas. For example, choosing feeder locations strategically by placing them far away from trees and other structures that could be used as leaping points can significantly reduce accessibility for these determined creatures.

8 Proven Tips And Tricks To Keep Squirrels Away

Discover effective strategies to protect your bird feeders from pesky squirrels. From using squirrel-proof feeders and hanging them high, to creating a barrier and offering alternative food sources, these tips will keep your feathered friends safe and well-fed.

1. Use Squirrel-Proof Feeders

One of the most effective ways to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders is by investing in squirrel-proof feeders. These specially designed feeders are constructed with features that deter squirrels, such as weight-sensitive perches that close off access to the seeds when a heavier animal like a squirrel attempts to feed.

For example, the Brome Squirrel Buster is a highly rated squirrel-proof bird feeder with an adjustable weight mechanism, allowing you to choose how sensitive you want it to be.

By opting for high-quality, well-reviewed squirrel-resistant feeders, you can save time and money while ensuring your feathered friends have constant access to food without interference from pesky squirrels.

2. Hang The Feeders High And Away From Trees

One effective method to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders is proper placement by hanging them high and away from trees. Squirrels possess incredible jumping skills, so it’s crucial to position the feeder at least 10 feet away from any tree branches or other launch points.

Additionally, make sure that the feeder hangs at a minimum height of five feet off the ground.

For an added layer of protection, consider using spinning hooks when suspending feeders. The slightest motion will set these hooks into action, spinning and making it almost impossible for squirrels to maintain balance while trying to access the seeds inside.

Another tip is installing smooth baffles above hanging feeders; this cylindrical-shaped barrier makes climbing difficult for squirrels and helps protect your feathered friends’ food source.

3. Create A Barrier Around The Feeders

To further prevent squirrels from reaching the bird feeders, creating a barrier around the feeding area can be effective. Here are some ways to create a barrier:

  • Surround the feeder with a fence or mesh cage that has small openings for bird access but is too small for squirrels to enter.
  • Place an adhesive – backed wraparound sleeve made of plastic or metal around the pole of the feeder.
  • Attach strips of aluminum foil to the pole as a temporary measure since squirrels are scared by its sound and reflective surface.

Creating barriers will help keep feeders safe from squirrels and ensure that your feathered friends have uninterrupted access to their food.

4. Offer Alternative Food Sources For Squirrels

Squirrels love bird feeders, but providing them with a separate feeding area can help keep them away from your feathered friends. Offering alternative food sources such as corn, sunflower seeds, peanuts or even apples can be effective in redirecting their attention away from bird feeders.

Create a specific place for squirrels to eat by placing the food on the opposite side of the yard or using a separate feeder with squirrel-friendly options.

This way, squirrels will have access to food they enjoy without disrupting your backyard birdwatching experience. Remember that not all birds enjoy and can digest the same types of food as squirrels, so make sure to choose appropriate seed types for each species accordingly.

5. Use Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Another effective way to deter squirrels is to use motion-activated sprinklers. Squirrels are not fans of water and can be startled by the sudden spraying of water from the sprinkler, causing them to scamper out of your garden or yard.

These sprinklers can be placed at the edges of your property or near bird feeders. The Contech CRO101 Scarecrow Animal Deterrent is a popular choice among homeowners as it uses infrared technology to detect movement and spray water up to 35 feet away.

This device also has an adjustable sensitivity setting, making it customizable for different areas and situations in your yard.

6. Use Spices And Herbs To Repel Squirrels

Another effective way to keep squirrels away from bird feeders is by using spices and herbs. Squirrels have a keen sense of smell, so incorporating strong aromatic scents such as cayenne pepper or chilli powder around the feeder can deter them from coming close.

By sprinkling these spices on birdseed or creating sachets to hang near the feeder, the scent will act as a natural repellent. Similarly, planting herbs such as peppermint or rosemary in proximity to bird feeders can also help keep squirrels at bay due to their strong smells.

7. Place A Baffle On The Pole

Adding a baffle to the existing bird feeder pole is one of the most effective ways to keep squirrels away from your feeders. A baffle acts as a physical barrier between the squirrel and the feeder, preventing it from climbing up or jumping down onto it.

There are two main types of baffles: wrap-around and cone-shaped. Wrap-around baffles can be easily attached to an existing pole, while cone-shaped ones are typically used with new setups that include metal poles.

It’s important to ensure that there is enough space between the top of the baffle and the bottom of your feeder so that squirrels cannot reach over or around it.

For example, when using a wrap-around baffle, make sure it fits tightly around your pole so that squirrels cannot slip underneath it. Additionally, keep in mind that some materials may not deter all squirrels – for instance, plastic might not be as effective as metal at keeping them away.

8. Adopt A Squirrel-Friendly Approach

Instead of viewing squirrels as pests to be deterred, try adopting a squirrel-friendly approach towards your backyard wildlife. This can include offering alternative food sources such as corn or nuts for the squirrels to enjoy instead of competing with birds for birdseed.

By taking a more compassionate approach, you’ll not only create a harmonious backyard environment but may also find that the squirrels become less interested in raiding your bird feeders over time.

Mistakes To Avoid When Trying To Keep Squirrels Away

Choosing cheap or ineffective squirrel-proof feeders can make your efforts futile in keeping squirrels away.

1. Choosing Cheap Or Ineffective Squirrel-Proof Feeders

Investing in a squirrel-proof bird feeder is one of the most effective ways to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders. However, it’s important to avoid choosing cheap or ineffective squirrel-proof feeders as they may not be able to withstand the strength and determination of a persistent squirrel.

Many low-quality feeders claim to be “squirrel-proof,” but their designs are often flawed and easily circumvented by clever squirrels. It’s important to invest in a quality feeder that has been rigorously tested and proven effective against squirrels, such as those made with durable materials like metal or polycarbonate plastic.

2. Placing Feeders In Close Proximity To Trees

One common mistake that many bird enthusiasts make when placing their feeders is putting them too close to trees. While it may seem like a good idea to have the feeder within easy reach for birds, it can also make it easier for squirrels to access.

Instead, place your feeder out in the open or on a pole that’s far away from any trees. This will help ensure that squirrels don’t have easy access and will need to work harder if they want to raid your bird feeder.

Adding a baffle on the pole can also be incredibly helpful in preventing squirrels from climbing up and accessing the feeder.

3. Ignoring The Benefits Of Alternative Feeding Sources

In addition to investing in squirrel-proof feeders, providing alternative food sources for squirrels can also be an effective way to keep them away from bird feeders.

By offering cracked corn or safflower seeds in a separate feeder, squirrels are less likely to compete with birds for food and will be drawn to their own designated area.

Additionally, hanging ears of corn away from the main feeding areas can provide a distraction for squirrels and prevent them from attempting to access the bird feeders.

Utilizing these alternative feeding sources not only helps deter squirrels but also ensures that all backyard wildlife is provided with adequate nutrition and resources.

Regularly offering these alternative food options can also foster a sense of harmony between birds and squirrels while preventing any territorial disputes or aggressive behavior around the bird feeder areas.

Allowing both species to coexist peacefully contributes positively towards creating a thriving backyard ecosystem that supports various forms of wildlife.

4. Overlooking The Importance Of Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is an important factor in successfully keeping squirrels away from your bird feeders. It’s essential to keep the feeding area clean, including removing any spilled seeds or debris that may attract other pests such as mice and rats.

Another aspect of regular maintenance includes monitoring the feeder itself for any cracks or holes that may allow water to seep in, making the food inside moldy and unappetizing for birds.

By neglecting these factors, you risk creating an uninviting feeding environment for your feathered friends while inadvertently welcoming unwanted rodents and bugs into your yard.

5. Failing To Monitor For Other Pests

It’s important not to become too narrowly focused on keeping squirrels away from bird feeders, as other pests can also pose a threat to your feathered friends.

For example, ants might be attracted to spilled seed or leftover food debris, which could result in an infestation that can harm birds and damage their habitat. Similarly, mold or mildew growth on the feeder itself could lead to health problems for the birds eating from it.

To avoid these issues, regular maintenance and monitoring of bird feeders is essential. This includes cleaning them regularly and properly – removing any old seed and sanitizing with a mild disinfectant – as well as checking for signs of pest activity such as droppings or bite marks on the feeder itself.

Additional Tips And Best Practices For Maintaining Bird Feeders

Clean bird feeders regularly and properly to avoid the buildup of mold, bacteria, and other contaminants that could harm birds.

1. Clean Feeders Regularly And Properly

Keeping bird feeders clean is crucial for both the health of your feathered friends and to deter squirrels from coming near. Seed buildup can not only attract vermin like rats and mice, but also make birds sick with bacteria and mold growth.

To prevent this, it’s essential to clean your feeder regularly. Use hot water and soap or a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

Another important aspect of maintaining your bird feeders is choosing appropriate seed types that discourage squirrels’ attraction while still providing food for birds.

By following these simple steps in cleaning your feeder station properly and choosing appropriate seeds type; you’ll be able to keep your backyard avian guests happy and healthy while deterring pesky squirrels effectively!

2. Choose Appropriate Seed Types

Selecting the right type of bird seed can help deter squirrels from raiding your bird feeders. Squirrels are attracted to sunflower seeds, so opting for safflower seeds may discourage them while still attracting a variety of birds.

Additionally, squirrels dislike spicy foods, so incorporating hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper into the bird seed mix can be effective in deterring them. It’s essential to remember that you should never use harmful chemicals or poisons to repel squirrels as this is inhumane and can harm other wildlife.

3. Monitor And Address Any Other Pest Problems

Bird feeders can attract more than just birds. Other pests like ants, mice, and raccoons might also be drawn to the food source provided by your bird feeder. It is essential to monitor for these other types of pests and address them promptly.

Mice and raccoons can be more challenging to deal with but are equally important to address. Use a baffle on the pole of your bird feeder as this helps prevent mice from climbing up it and accessing the food in your bird feeders.

Additionally, keep any surrounding bushes trimmed back so that they do not provide an easy hiding spot for predators looking for a snack while waiting near the feeder site.

Conclusion – How to Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders

In conclusion, keeping squirrels away from your bird feeders is not an impossible task. With the right tips and tricks, you can effectively prevent these furry creatures from stealing food meant for your feathered friends.

Investing in a squirrel-proof feeder pole, using natural deterrents like cayenne pepper or oils, and placing the feeders out of reach are just a few effective ways to keep squirrels away.

Remember to avoid common mistakes such as choosing ineffective feeders or ignoring regular maintenance.


  1. Why do squirrels like to raid bird feeders and how can I prevent it?

Squirrels are attracted to bird feeders because of the easy access to food. To prevent them from raiding your feeder, you can try using squirrel-proof bird feeders or adding a squirrel baffle to your existing feeder.

  1. Are there any natural methods for keeping squirrels away from my bird feeders?

Yes, there are several natural methods for keeping squirrels away such as placing chili pepper flakes or cayenne pepper around the base of the feeder, using safflower seeds which squirrels dislike, or hanging shiny objects near the feeder which may scare them away.

  1. How often should I clean my bird feeder to keep squirrels at bay?

It is important to regularly clean your bird feeder as leftover food and debris can attract not just squirrels but other unwanted pests like rats and raccoons. Aim to clean your feeder at least once every two weeks with mild soap and warm water.

  1. What other preventative measures can I take besides buying squirrel-proof equipment or using natural deterrents?

Other preventative measures include relocating your bird feeder further away from trees that provide easy access for squirrels, removing any overhanging branches nearby, and ensuring that there is no loose seed on the ground which could attract additional rodents and wildlife.

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