It can feel frustrating when you set up a perfect feeding station for your birds, but the ones who benefit are the squirrels! They may look cute, but squirrels scare away birds and store any nuts they can’t eat. They’re clever and resilient and will chew through even wire to access the food they want. It is possible to deter them from your bird feeders – read on for some easy and effective tips.
1. Keep the feeders clean
Squirrels are often attracted by food knocked off the feeders by birds. Try to keep the area under your bird feeder clean, and maybe consider attaching a tray beneath the feeder to collect any fallen food.
2. Invest in a squirrel proof feeder
Some feeders are designed specifically to prevent squirrels – try one with a spring loaded cover or one with a cage around the seeds which the birds can fit through but the squirrels can’t, and you can even get feeders with spinners attached. You can set up a ground feeding station with a domed cage over the top to keep squirrels out.
3. Give squirrels their own space
This tutorial from Birds and Blooms shows you how to make a squirrel feeder. Keep it topped up with plenty of peanuts and it might just be enough to keep them away from the birds’ supply!
4. Hang your bird feeders from spinning wire
Make sure the feeders hang at least 5 feet from the ground so the squirrels can’t jump up. If you hang a plastic bottle horizontally on either side of the feeder (make a hole in the base of the bottle), or thread copper pipe or hosepipe along the wire it will create a spinning obstacle course they might struggle to overcome.
5. Replace the pole
If your feeders hang from a pole, experiment with different materials to see if any keep the squirrels away. Some people find that copper or plastic poles are less easy for squirrels to navigate, and you can even invest in squirrel poof poles.
6. Keep a lid on it
Squirrels are clever enough to dismantle a bird feeder to get to the food inside. Make sure it is as well secured as possible, using thick wire that they can’t chew through to hold the lid and base on tightly.
7. Add a slinky
Attach a slinky so it’s coiled vertically from beneath the feeder – it shouldn’t be touching the ground. When the squirrels get close to the food, the slinky will suddenly uncoil and they will drop down – the shock might be enough to put them off.
8. Follow the rule of 5-7-9
It is thought that squirrels will be reluctant to jump more than 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet across from a fence or tree and won’t want to drop more than 9 feet onto the feeder from above. Measure out the site for your bird feeder to make sure it falls within the rule of 5-7-9 and prune away branches that give the squirrels easy access.
9. Create a squirrel baffle
Drill a hole through a plastic mixing bowl and invert it over your feeder to create a baffle for the squirrels.
10. Spice things up
Birds can’t taste capsicum but squirrels can, so try lacing your bird food with a few dried chilli flakes, some dried chilli powder or Tabasco.
Squirrels are as much a part of our gardens as the birds we love to feed, so it is important to try not to become too frustrated by their presence and resort to deterrents that harm them.
Have you come up with any squirrel proofing tricks in your garden? Share your ideas below!