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How To Protect Bird Feeders From Squirrels – 3 Simple Tricks That Work!

Are you looking for a simple, effective and economical solution to protect your bird feeders from squirrels?

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to help our feathered friends out with a bit of supplemental food, only to watch it decimated quickly by marauding squirrels!

Squirrels are notorious for robbing bird feeders at will. With their nimble footwork and ability to spring and fly great distances, they can often foil even the best efforts to keep them away. And once they find a reliable food source, they won’t stop coming back.

protecting bird feeders
Squirrels will visit and revisit bird feeders again and again. And as you can see from the photograph above, they are not bothered by birds in the least!

It can be frustrating for sure. Especially when you consider the cost of continually purchasing bird seed to refill feeders. But the good news is that there are a few tips and tricks that can stop squirrels in their tracks. Well, at least when it comes to robbing your bird feeders of food!

Here is a look at a few squirrel preventive strategies, along with three effective solutions to keep squirrels from stealing the food from your bird feeders.

How To Protect Your Bird Feeders From Squirrels

Preventive Strategies

One of the most important keys to keeping squirrels away from your feeders is to implement a few preventative strategies right from the start. And that begins with locating your bird feeder in the least advantageous spot for a squirrel to get to the food.

More than anything else, never locate your bird feeder on a tree or within a short distance from a tree. It is like giving a squirrel an instant ladder and a free ride to success.

Squirrels can easily jump distances of five to six feet. And if your feeder is located close to a tree, they can easily fly right to the feeder. Even worse, that very same tree gives the squirrels natural protection from predators.

squirrels and bird feeders
When placed near a tree, squirrels can quickly and easily “fly” to your feeder. Unfortunately, that can stop even the best defense at the bottom of the pole.

For best results, locate your bird feeder out in an open area. Be sure to keep it away from short walls, shrubs and other easy access points for squirrels. Most importantly of all, make sure your bird feeder post is long! Any post under 5′ in height is easy prey for a leaping squirrel. For best results, select posts that are at least 6′ tall.

Other Preventative Measures…

It is also important to keep the ground area under the feeders as clean as possible. Large amounts of fallen food will attract squirrels, racoon and other pests quickly. And when the ground food is gone, they will soon try to make it up to the feeder as well!

Finally, selecting bird feed mixes that squirrels are not fond of can help keep them away as well. Squirrels love sunflower seeds, peanuts and dried fruit. Keeping these foods out of your feeder can greatly help to deter their visits. Instead, choose a mix with white millet or safflower seeds, both of which squirrels detest.

Now that we have covered the basics of preventative strategies, what do you do if you still have an issue? No worries – we have you covered below with three great tricks that are sure to work!

#1 – The Hot Pepper Trick – How To Protect Your Bird Feeders From Squirrels

Believe it or not, birds are not affected in the least from the heat of a hot pepper. The burning sensation from hot peppers comes from capsaicin, an active ingredient found within the flesh and seeds of the fruit of a pepper plant.

Although mammals and humans are both highly sensitive to the compound, birds are not. And by simply adding hot pepper flakes to your bird feed mix, you can greatly deter squirrels from coming back for more.

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With one taste of cayenne or hot chili pepper flakes, squirrels are more than happy to move on. And it is not just limited to those specific hot peppers, any hot variety will do. We actually use the flakes from our Chinese Five Color peppers we grow and dry each year. Without fail, they work like magic for stopping our squirrels!

In addition to doctoring your own bird feed, you can also purchase ready made seed mixes with the heat already in them. Products like C&S Hot Pepper Nuggets contain bird feed with the heat already in place. They are great as a stand alone food source, or when added to additional seed to help protect it.

#2 Install A Squirrel Baffle – How To Protect Bird Feeders From Squirrels

One of the quickest and easiest ways to defeat squirrels from your bird feeder is with a squirrel baffle. Not only are they easy to install, they work wonders in keeping them from climbing bird house posts. Even better, they are fairly good at protecting against racoon and other pests as well!

The baffles are basically an upside down cone that squirrels have difficulty getting around. The cone extends far enough out of the bottom that the squirrel is unable to grip above the pole.

bird feeder baffle - squirrels
A squirrel baffle is a quick and easy way to stop squirrels from climbing bird feeders. Many models such as the one above, install easily without having to remove the pole.

Most models of squirrel baffles can install right to the post without having to remove it. For maximum effectiveness, locate the baffle at least 5′ off of the ground. This will prevent squirrels from leaping up and above to the feeder. Product Link : Audubon Squirrel Baffle Wrap

#3 The Slinky Trick – How To Protect Bird Feeders From Squirrels

Believe it or not, a favorite childhood toy from our past is also quite effective at stopping squirrels from getting to bird feeders. And that toy is none other than the slinky!

Much like the squirrel baffle, a good old-fashioned slinky can prevent squirrels from climbing up a bird feeder pole. The spongy metal is simply too annoying and difficult for squirrels to navigate. (Product link : Classic Metal Slinky)

To install, slide the slinky over the bird feeding post and use zip ties to secure it. Slightly expanding the coils can protect a longer area of the pole. As with the squirrel baffle, make sure to place it to cover at least 5′ up the post. Any lower, and squirrels can jump it.

slinky
When it comes to protecting your bird feeder posts from squirrels climbing up, an old fashioned slinky works wonders!

Finally, in addition to all three of these highly effective methods, investing in a squirrel-proof feeder will greatly decrease squirrel issues as well. There are quite a few models on the market to select from. For best results, choose one that can hold up to the weather such as the Sailor Metal Bird Feeder.

Unfortunately, many plastic ones are simply not strong enough to stand up to Mother Nature. Here is to protecting your bird feeders from squirrels, and to enjoying watching your birds eat without worry! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.

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