Squirrels are persistent creatures regarding food sources, and a squirrel proof bird feeder can help get rid of squirrels from your property. Squirrel-proof feeders can be purchased or modified with a preventative design. They may come with weight-bearing triggered mechanisms or baffles. Feeders can be mounted 5 feet up and 9 feet away from other objects on a pole covered with a slinky.
Read on to learn about the ideal features in a feeder that keep squirrels out, along with ways to keep them away if your feeder still needs to be squirrel-proof.
Top 4 Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Our #1 Rated
|Droll Yankees Flipper Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
|Squirrel Buster Standard Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
|H-F Green Absolute II Two Sided Feeder With Windows
|More Birds Squirrel-X Double Suet Feeder
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Options
The following are our top four picks for best squirrel proof bird feeder. Be sure to pick the best option based on your needs of price, feeder seed capacity, and the number of birds you are expecting to feed at once.
Our top recommendation for squirrel proof bird feeder is the Droll Yankees Flipper Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder. The sturdy polycarbonate feeding chamber is a whopping 4-3/4 inches in diameter and 21 inches long, giving you a break between refills–and ensuring that squirrels can’t hang down from the top to reach seed. The four feeding chambers are easily accessible via the perch ring, and the interior of the chamber is designed to direct seed into the seed ports.
How does it keep squirrels off?
The birdfeeder features an encased motor and rechargeable (and replaceable) batteries. When you receive the feeder, charge the batteries overnight, hang it from its looped bail wire, and prepare to be amazed (and entertained!). The motor is connected to the weight-activated perch ring–birds will not set it off, even larger species like woodpeckers and cardinals. But the minute a squirrel hops onto the perch, the motor is triggered, and the feeder begins spinning, taking the squirrel for a whirl before it loses its grip and is thrown (gently) from the perch.
Next on our list is the Squirrel Buster Standard Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder. This is a smaller feeder than the one mentioned above and can hold up to 1.3 pounds of bird seed. The seed ports have perches for perching birds and the wire shroud provides a surface area for clinging birds. There is a weight adjustable spring mechanism which controls how much weight the shroud will support allowing the birds to feed. Any additional weight will activate the closing mechanism.
How does it keep squirrels off?
Openings in the shroud align with the feeding ports, providing birds access to the food. When a squirrel climbs onto the feeder, its weight automatically forces the shroud down, closing access to the ports. Squirrels and some large birds are foiled but not harmed in any way.
The next squirrel proof bird feeder we recommend is the H-F Green Absolute II Two Sided Feeder With Windows. This feeder has a more unique design compared to the feeders seen above. Instead of being tall and cylindrical, it is long and rectangular, which makes it massive. There are 14(!) different feeding spots for birds and it holds up to 12 pounds of bird seed. If you have a ton of bird traffic in your yard, this is the bird feeder for you!
How does it keep squirrels off?
Set the tab to select the weight setting for the birds you want to feed! Refer to the ” Weight Adjustable Perches” table to ensure all birds you wish to feed are covered in your weight setting.
The final feeder on our list is the More Birds Squirrel-X Double Suet Feeder. The difference with this feeder compared to the other ones on the list is that this one uses suet cakes instead of bird seed. This feeder features a 360 degree double metal cage around the suet cakes. It also has a metal roof to keep the food dry. There is plenty of room for multiple birds at once and it is able to hold two suet cakes at once.
How does it keep squirrels off?
The double metal cage allows birds easy access to the suet cakes, but the openings are not big enough for squirrels to stick their heads or paws inside.
Features to Look for in a Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Squirrels love the ample supply of nuts and seeds from bird feeders. As acrobatic opportunistic eaters, they will persistently find ways to get to these tasty treats.
If your yard becomes a food source, squirrels may decide to start living on your property in tree nests, burrows, or even your attic.
Squirrel proof bird feeders come in various styles and designs with the same goal: to keep squirrels out.
Certain features are practical whether you buy a new feeder or modify a current one. If you have a feeder with more than one of these features, your chances of keeping squirrels away significantly increase.
You will find more information later in this article about modifying an existing bird feeder to be squirrel-proof and cost-effectively. Make sure you keep on reading below!
Opt for feeders that are made of durable materials such as powder-coated metals or ultraviolet-resistant resins.
These are harder for squirrels to chew through to get to the inside. On the other hand, wooden bird feeders can be easily chewed through relatively quickly.
It can be tempting to hang a bird feeder directly from a tree branch, but there are better ideas than this. The squirrels can easily climb along and down the branch to get to the seeds.
To hang a feeder, you must implement other squirrel-deterrent features.
Feeders mounted on a rounded, smooth-surfaced pole can be climbed, but harder to do so. Choose a pole taller than 5 feet, and make sure the pole is not wooden.
Keep any pole mounts away from other spots that squirrels can leap from since they can leap down or horizontally from trees, roofs, and more at distances up to about 9 feet.
Another option is to use a free-standing shepherd’s hook to hang a feeder, keeping the same distancing measures in mind.
In addition to mounting styles, you can make the seeds or feeder less accessible by using cages or mechanical mechanisms.
Bird feeders with wire cages around them make it easy for birds to get food with their beaks but harder for squirrels.
Squirrels like to chew all sorts of things to file down their ever-growing teeth. However, these cages are challenging to chew through, and they will likely opt for food they can access more easily.
Cage feeders work well for smaller birds, such as songbirds. Larger birds, such as bluejays, may not be able to access the seeds.
You will need a different squirrel-proofing option, such as an open-air feeder that accommodates large birds.
Some models of bird feeders come with a mechanical mechanism that responds to the weight of a squirrel but not to the lighter weight of birds.
They are typically powered by batteries, and parts of the feeder have a component that gives way, twists, turns, or flips, making it hard for the squirrel to stay on the feeder.
Some bird feeders come with baffles installed on them. These barriers are either slippery metal sheeting or dome-shaped, making it nearly impossible for a squirrel to overcome.
Conversely, some feeders have internal baffles or mechanisms to keep seeds from spilling out too quickly. This helps keep seeds off of the ground, where squirrels will also enjoy a snack.
Tips & Tricks For Squirrel Proofing Bird Feeders
The following are some tips and tricks to make bird feeders squirrel proof. These are ideas on how to incorporate some of the features mentioned above in a cost-friendly and effective way.
6 Ways To Modify An Existing Bird Feeder
As mentioned above, squirrels can jump and leap considerable distances. Keep any bird feeders greater than 5 feet off the ground and 9 feet away from surfaces they can leap off or down from.
This can be challenging since power lines, fences, roofs, and other trees can give squirrels good access. In many cases, you will need to implement other repellent strategies in addition to elevated and distant locations.
2. Wire-Hung Plastic Bottle Barriers
Squirrels can walk along wires up high in the air and climb down short wire-hung feeders. However, you can hang your feeder on wire from one pole (or branch) to another, suspended in the middle.
Then, hang plastic liter bottles from the wire on each side of the feeder. It may not be attractive, but squirrels have difficulty getting around the bottles, slipping off if they try to mount them.
3. Install A Metal Baffle
Squirrels can climb poles with ease if they can get a good grip.
Installing a baffle (from the home improvement store) or non-textured copper metal sheeting around the pole can create an insurmountable obstacle for climbing.
Commercial baffles come in various styles, including wrap-around, torpedo-shaped, or dome-shaped ones.
Some poles for bird feeders can be purchased with a baffle already on them.
4. Use a Slinky
A simple and inexpensive barrier for a pole-mounted feeder is a slinky.
Slide the slinky onto the pole, and attach one end securely at the top. The squirrels cannot climb up the slinky, and yet the sight of them attempting to can cause some fun entertainment for onlookers.
5. Use a Different Pole
While squirrels can get a good grip on wooden and many metal poles, PVC and copper are difficult to grasp.
Cooper is a more costly option, which will also turn green with exposure to the elements.
PVC is cheaper but may need to look nicer with your yard decor, but consider using a different pole if pole climbing is an issue.
Shepard hooks that suspend feeders high enough can also work well. Consider using a slinky in conjunction with this style.
6. Use a Spinning Hanger
Garden stores may have spinning hangers, similar to the fasteners used on flag poles or wind chimes.
A spinning hanger on a bird feeder may cause a squirrel to fall off when they land on it.
Other Deterrents to Keep Squirrels away from Bird Feeders
If squirrels remain persistent and determined to get to your feeders, you can also implement other strategies in conjunction with squirrel-proofing a feeder.
Add Cayenne Pepper Flakes to Bird Seed
Adding cayenne pepper flakes to your birdseed mix is an effective and cost-effective method in conjunction with any other methods in this article.
Squirrels, and other pests, such as raccoons and rats, do not like cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper has a spicy compound called capsaicin; however, birds are not bothered by this taste because they do not have taste buds that perceive spiciness as mammals do.
Mix in 3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper flakes (or powder) per pound of seeds. Consider mixing it right into the bag and shaking it to mix it in thoroughly. This will help keep pests away from your bag of seeds as well.
Some suet cakes are available with cayenne pepper already mixed in; if you make your own, you can mix some pepper right in.
Remember that lots of spice may water a bird’s eyes or bother other animals, such as pets, if it falls to the ground. Use less pepper or a different method in this article if in doubt.
Use Different Seeds
Seed mixes bring in different birds, and the bags are often labeled with what birds will eat them.
Interestingly, squirrels (bully birds such as grackles, crows, and bluejays) do not like safflower seeds.
You can mix safflower seeds with your seed mix or offer safflower only. Safflower seeds are commonly eaten by songbirds, mourning doves, house finches, grosbeaks, nuthatches, and more.
You can also try mixes with nyjer seeds or white proso millet, which squirrels tend to leave alone in the search for something tastier.
Wire-Covered Catch Bucket
Birds kick seeds out of feeders for various reasons, including discarding undesirable seeds, foraging for ones they prefer, or maintaining balance on the feeder. As a result, seeds end up on the ground, where squirrels, chipmunks, and larger birds will feast.
To address this issue, put a chicken wire-covered bucket or deep tray underneath the feeder. Ensure the wire is secure so a squirrel cannot pry it off. This will catch and keep the seeds off the ground and make it easier for you to clean up.
If you fill a bird feeder in the morning, it is often empty by dusk. Check and empty the bucket daily, preferably before night, so you don’t invite other unwanted pests, such as raccoons.
If you have a pole-mounted bird feeder, you can install a dome-shaped baffle upside down with a wire cover to catch the seeds.
Keep in mind that a squirrel may try to grab onto the edge of the baffle in this position to get up to the feeder. However, you can give it a try and see what happens!
Keep a Tidy Yard
Even tidy yards will have squirrels in them if there are ample food and water sources. However, keeping it tidy removes additional food sources, nesting materials, and hiding spots for squirrels (and other rodents).
Do the following:
- Promptly remove leaf piles and grass clippings.
- Fill in low spots with pooling water with topsoil.
- Pick vegetables as soon as they are fresh, and do not leave remnants behind.
- Keep pet food and trash bins out of reach.
Hang Up Soap
Irish soap has offending musky odors in it that bother squirrels. Mint bar soap is also offensive to many animals, including squirrels.
To keep squirrels away from the feeder, put a bar of “stinky’ soap in a long tube sock, and hang it up near the feeder.
The soap may disintegrate in hot, humid, or rainy weather, replacing the soap bar as needed.
Try putting an electronic squirrel repellent device near the feeder.
The hearing ranges of birds can vary by species but range from 1,000 to 4,000 Hertz (Hz). Humans hear from 20 to 20,000 Hz. However, squirrels hear a much greater range, including high frequencies from 113 Hz (Hz) to 49 kilohertz (kHz).
Therefore, ultrasonic devices which emit high frequencies that birds cannot hear help keep squirrels away. The range of ultrasonic devices varies, so place it as close to the feeder as you can.
These take time to work since a squirrel may ignore them at first. But after about two weeks, the irregular and stressful pattern of the high frequencies can make squirrels leave to find food in a more peaceful setting.
Prickly Mats on Branches
Prickly plastic mats have non-harmful spikes that are uncomfortable for small mammals to walk on. They are advertised for keeping cats out of your garden, but they will also work on squirrels.
Even though squirrels can leap up to 9 feet, you can make branches with a prickly surface.
Cut the prickly mats, or wrap them around the branch leading to a hanging feeder. Attach it to the tree with zip ties, a staple gun, or small nails.
The prickly mat should go up to the feeder long enough to discourage leaping.
Alternate Feed Station
If you don’t mind the squirrels but want them out of your bird feeders, you can set up an alternate feed station just for them.
You can build or purchase a squirrel platform feeder that offers great squirrel-approved snacks such as dried cobs of corn or peanuts.
Baits & Traps
Remember that many states have laws and regulations about using rodenticides or trapping.
Additionally, you cannot harm any birds in baiting or trapping since it is illegal to injure or kill birds according to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Remember that trapping a squirrel only eliminates that one animal and is a temporary solution. Other squirrels may come in and continue to cause frustration over your bird feeders. Other methods will need to be implemented.
Contact local wildlife control or a pest control company if in doubt or if you need assistance.
What to Avoid When Squirrel-Proofing Bird Feeders
When squirrel-proofing bird feeders, there are a few things that you must avoid using or doing. This is to protect birds and other wildlife.
Do not use the following:
- Glue or adhesives: These can rip off fur or feathers, causing injury or an inability to fly. Animals may ingest toxic adhesives trying to clean themselves.
- Squirrel Poison: Often, these are heavily regulated or illegal to use. Pets, children, and other animals can ingest the poison directly or a poisoned deceased animal indirectly.
- Petroleum jelly, grease, or oil: Never put these substances on a pole or feeder. If it gets on a bird’s wings, it will no longer be able to fly. If it gets on a squirrel’s or other animal’s fur, it is tough to clean off and may not stay warm.
- Owl decoys: Owls are predators of squirrels and can scare them away. However, owls also eat other birds, and the presence of one near a feeder will scare them away too.
- Apple cider vinegar or ammonia: Some people hang rags soaked in these liquids near areas where they wish to keep squirrels out. However, these smells are also offensive to birds, so you will not have any visiting the feeders if these smells are nearby.
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Conclusion
If you wish to hang or mount bird feeders for bird-watching enjoyment, you should take steps to squirrel-proof them.
You can either purchase a feeder with squirrel-proofing in place or modify a feeder that makes it difficult to access.
This includes mounting it high and away from other vantage points or using baffles or spinning hangers.
Implementing other deterrents, such as cayenne pepper mixed in with bird seed or high-frequency ultrasonic devices, can tell squirrels to go elsewhere to find food.
In most cases, more than one method or deterrent should be used to effectively squirrel-proof a bird feeder.