How to Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders

Updated September 29, 2019

Got a backyard bird feeder? Then, chances are, you’ve also got squirrels taking aim at it day after day. While you may not mind a few squirrels snacking on your bird seed, too many can overwhelm and will, likely, wind up destroying your feeder – or, even, marking and protecting it from the birds you’re looking to attract.

So what to do if squirrels are already overtaking your bird feeder? These simple tactics will keep them away – and keep both you and the birds happy!

Invest in a squirrel feeder

While squirrels can’t tell the difference between a bird feeder and a squirrel feeder, they can tell the difference between that food and their favorite nibbles. Fill your squirrel feeder with go-tos like raw peanuts, cracked corn and sunflower seeds – squirrels’ favorites – and see if that draws them away from the birdseed. Don’t want to invest in a second feeder? Toss nuts, seeds and corn into a hanging planter or plant pot and leave it in a very visible, very accessible spot in your yard.

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Move your bird feeder

Squirrels can jump, on average, about five or six feet – and, often, significantly more if they get a running start. Consider moving your bird feeder at least 10-12 feet from any surfaces – your roof, deck or fence, for example – to keep squirrels at bay. While they may try to make the leap, they’ll soon learn they can’t and move on to the next snack source.

Install a cage

Squirrel-proof feeders are becoming increasingly popular, as are homemade solutions that, typically, center on a simple cage installation. Thin wiring/caging is wrapped around a feeder with thin enough openings that enable birds to feed but too narrow for squirrels to squeeze their arms and paws through. Simple enough!

Go for safflowers

Birds love safflower…but squirrels don’t. Sprinkle some safflower into your birdseed before pouring into the feeder and, likely, the squirrels will abandon it soon enough. Same goes for hot pepper – many bird seeds come complete with a hot pepper additive that doesn’t bother birds but bothers squirrels enough to make your feeder off limits fast.

Virtually everyone with a bird feeder has had to deal with squirrels setting their sights on the seeds and grains inside. Consider investing in alternative feeders or food or, simply, making your feeder less than desirable to area squirrels. Within a few days of implementing one or more of these tactics, you’ll likely have curbed the squirrel issue for good.

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