Keeping Squirrels at Bay: Protecting Your Bird Feeders

Introduction: Squirrels and Bird Feeders

Squirrels are incredibly resourceful creatures and have a knack for raiding bird feeders. While their antics can be amusing, they often leave bird enthusiasts frustrated as they deplete food meant for feathered friends. This detailed guide offers solutions to keep squirrels away from bird feeders without harming them.

Understanding Squirrel Behavior

Squirrels are primarily driven by their need to find food, especially in colder months when resources are scarce. Understanding this drive is essential for creating effective deterrents.

Selecting the Right Bird Feeder

The design and type of bird feeder you choose can play a crucial role in making it squirrel-resistant.

Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders

Squirrel-proof bird feeders are designed to be difficult for squirrels to access. They often include weight-sensitive perches that close access to the food when a squirrel attempts to use them. The right choice depends on your budget, aesthetics, and the specific needs of the bird species you want to attract.

Placement of the Feeder

Positioning the bird feeder appropriately is a simple yet effective way to make it less accessible to squirrels. It’s advisable to place the feeder at least 10 feet away from trees or other structures that squirrels can climb, and at a height that is difficult for them to jump.

Using Squirrel Guards and Baffles

Adding squirrel guards or baffles to your existing feeders can be an effective way to keep squirrels at bay.


Baffles are smooth, slippery surfaces that are placed either above or below the bird feeder. Their design makes it difficult for squirrels to grip, thereby preventing them from reaching the feeder.

Cage Guards

Cage guards are wire mesh barriers that surround the bird feeder. The mesh is large enough to allow birds to enter but small enough to exclude squirrels.

The Role of Food Choice

Believe it or not, the type of food you offer can make a difference in whether or not squirrels are attracted to your bird feeder.

Selecting Squirrel-Resistant Foods

Safflower seeds, for example, are often less appealing to squirrels but are enjoyed by many birds. Mixing these with other seeds may help deter squirrels without affecting the birds’ enjoyment.

Spicy Additives

Capsaicin-coated seeds are unpleasant for mammals but don’t affect birds. Consider using these if your squirrel problem is persistent.

Employing Distraction Techniques

Sometimes, the most effective way to keep squirrels out of bird feeders is to offer them an alternative food source.

Creating a Squirrel Feeding Area

By setting up a separate squirrel feeding area with food they prefer, you can draw them away from the bird feeders. Corn or other nuts can be used to attract them to this designated area.

Employing Decoys

Sometimes using decoy feeders filled with cheaper food can keep squirrels busy and away from the bird feeders.

Considering the Impact on Other Wildlife

While devising strategies to keep squirrels away from bird feeders, it’s vital to consider how these methods might impact other wildlife.

Effects on Other Animals

Make sure that the methods used don’t inadvertently harm or deter other wildlife that you want to encourage in your garden.

Environmental Considerations

Consider the broader ecological context. For example, are the squirrels being deterred an essential part of the local ecosystem?

Squirrels and bird feeders often seem to be natural enemies, but with careful planning and strategic thinking, you can create an environment where both birds and squirrels can coexist without conflict. The key lies in understanding squirrel behavior, selecting appropriate feeders and guards, being mindful of food choices, and employing distraction techniques when necessary. Always considering the broader impact on other wildlife will ensure that your garden remains a vibrant and welcoming place for all creatures.