5 Tips for Squirrel-Proofing Your Bird Feeder
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Squirrels are very cute, and most people don’t mind when they come around their garden or yard. They’re an adorable wild animal to watch, and often provide endless amounts of entertainment as they run around with their tails going crazy.
But squirrels can also be very frustrating, particularly if you have a bird feeder. There’s nothing a squirrel loves more than a seemingly endless supply of free food, and it seems like it only takes a few minutes of your bird feeder being up before a squirrel has found it and is attacking it like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
If you find that happening to your bird feeder, you’re going to want to want to take some action to keep the squirrels at bay. Here’s how.
1. Eliminate aerial entries
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to keep squirrels from climbing up the bird feeder, only to realize that the squirrels are actually coming down onto it. Squirrels are comfortable jumping about 10 feet, so you need to make sure that your bird feeder is in relative isolation. Don’t place the feeder too close to trees, large bushes, or structures such as fences, sheds, or your house. Squirrels love to jump or climb out on long limbs to get to where they want to go. Take away all aerial entry points.
2. Get a baffle poll
If the squirrels are actually climbing up the bird feeder, you can stop them by getting a baffle for the bird feeder pole. A baffle is basically a cone-like item that goes on a bird feeder pole to make it impossible for the squirrel to keep climbing. Think of it like an overhang for a climber.
You can buy baffles to attach directly to your bird feeder pole, or you can by squirrel-proof bird feeders that already have a built-in baffle on the pole.
3. Use a cage
This trick only works if you’re trying to attract small birds exclusively. If you put the bird seed in your bird feeder in a cage, then the squirrels won’t be able to get inside to the food. The birds, however, will be able to get inside, and can happily eat away at all the seed their hearts desire, with no squirrels stealing any of it.
This doubles as a great way to keep larger birds out of your bird feeder. If you’re having issues with crows or Steller’s jays getting into your bird feeder and eating everything before the small birds can get their fair share, then a cage can really help out.
Just make sure to get a cage that’s the right size for the birds you have, so it lets the right birds in, while keeping squirrels and the wrong birds out.
4. Use safflower and Nyjer seeds
Squirrels may give the appearance of eating anything they can get their paws on, but there are a few different things they don’t eat. Safflower and nyjer seeds are types of seeds that birds love, but squirrels have no interest in.
If you just put safflower and Nyjer seeds in your bird feeder, you’ll keep all the birds around, but the squirrels are unlikely to show any interest.
5. Make it spicy
You’re surely all too familiar with the pain that comes from eating food that’s a little bit too spicy. Well, you can make that happen to the squirrels (harmlessly). Capsaicin is the chemical compound that causes spiciness in peppers. Mammals, such as humans and squirrels, are highly sensitive to it. Other animals, including birds, don’t feel it at all.
If you put capsaicin on your bird food, the birds won’t be impacted but the squirrels will take one bite and run straight to the nearest water source. Don’t worry, it won’t kill them or cause any damage, they’ll just find it uncomfortable and they’ll be likely to stay away next time. You can add capsaicin powder directly, or purchase bird feed that already has some added.
Squirrels in the bird feeder can be a hassle, but they don’t need to be a big deal. Follow these steps and you’ll have an uninterrupted bird feeder in no time.