How can something so cute be such an annoyance?
Oh, don’t look so surprised, chubby squirrel, that you’ve been caught helping yourself to BIRD treats on the new bird feeder wreath. You are such a little stinker, you fury little squirrel invading the bird feeder!
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Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted January 2011 with better photos and additional information.
Squirrel on Bird Feeder
Tips to keep squirrels away from bird feeders
Place your feeders strategically
Since squirrels generally can’t jump more than 5 feet up from the ground, or more than 7 feet across from a tree or building, and they are reluctant to drop more than 9 feet onto a feeder from above, place your feeder with the numbers 5-7-9 in mind to deter a large majority of squirrels.
So, if your feeder is 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet on each side from a launching place, and 9 feet below an overhang, 90% of squirrels will be unable to jump onto a baffled feeder.
If you add 6 inches to those dimensions, you should prevent 100% of squirrels from reaching the feeder.
Get a squirrel-proof feeder.
If you cannot place your feeder in a location squirrels can’t get to, a squirrel-proof feeder might be the answer. They come in a variety of styles. Some work well and others not at all. I have had one with a spring-loaded door that worked well. Because most birds are much lighter in weight than squirrels, access to the bird food is denied. When a squirrel jumps on, typically a door closes!
Use a baffle
Install a squirrel baffle if your feeder is on a pole. Squirrels are amazing climbers, even on metal poles. Buy a squirrel baffle and attach it to the pole to prevent them from climbing up from below. Just be sure to place it at least five feet high so squirrels can’t just jump over it to the food. The baffles should be at least 15-18 inches wide or long to prevent squirrels from reaching around them. Many squirrel baffles are designed to twirl or tilt if a squirrel climbs onto them, keeping the animal off balance and unable to access the feeder.
Put a Slinky on the Bird Feeder Pole
An original metal Slinky toy can be a deterrent to squirrels. Simply fasten the spring to the top of your feeder pole. Shorten it if the Slinky touches the ground. When the squirrels try to scale the pole, they get a ride back to the ground every time.
Spicing it up
Purchase capsaicin-coated bird feed products, suet’s and sauces. You can also just mix some cayenne pepper into seed you already have.
Capsaicin is the compound in hot peppers that makes your tongue burn, but it only affects mammals—not birds. It is safe for birds and they feel no ill effects.
Many bird foods add capsaicin as a powder coat, liquid coat, or as part of a suet mix to stop squirrels from eating and is one of the best squirrel repellants you can utilize.
Keep the Ground Clean Under Feeders
Squirrels love to forage for seeds on the ground, and the debris from your feeders may be attracting them. Once they’re in the area, they’re sure to try to invade the feeders as well. Keep the areas underneath your feeders clean (this is also a good way to deter other unwanted pests like rats or raccoons). Attach a large tray on the pole beneath the feeders to catch the falling seed.
Irish Spring Soap
I haven’t tried this tip but read that hanging a bar of Irish Spring soap in a sock near your feeder, repels squirrels and other unwanted rodents, supposedly because of the scent.
Offer food that squirrels don’t like
Squirrels love birdseed, as well as nuts, sunflower seeds, fruit, and corn but they don’t like everything that birds eat. Squirrels don’t care for seed such as safflower seed, nyjer seed, and white proso millet and will be likely to look elsewhere for food.
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