We’ve seen thousands of genius, funny and just plain crazy strategies for keeping squirrels out of backyard bird feeders. These are our ten favorite, some serious and some not, in no particular order. Inspired by the funny collection by Bill Adler Jr.’s Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels.
10 Ways to keep squirrels out of your feeders
- Avoid corn. Many types of bird food, particularly bargain brands, use inexpensive corn in their mixes. Corn is a squirrel’s favorite treat besides peanuts, so if it’s in your feeder the squirrels will be too.
- Go high-tech. Want to treat your squirrel battles like high-tech suburban warfare? With webcams, motion-sensor sprinklers and music blasters, you can wage a guerrilla-style war on the squirrels. Be warned, you might unintentionally be starting a war with your neighbors too.
- Roll out spikes. Our favorite crazy tip from Adler’s book? He writes about rolling out spikes to protect his first feeder. Too bad squirrels can jump pretty well!
- Use bird feeder accessories. Squirrel baffles and pieces to elongate the feeder’s roof will help keep your feeder safe. Baffles keep squirrels from climbing the pole of a mounted bird feeder.
- Squirrel-proof with a slinky. If a squirrel baffle isn’t in your budget right now, go to your local dollar store and pick up a slinky. The classic children’s toy works in a similar way, although it’s not as attractive. Attach the top end to the pole and allow the rest to hang down.
- Use a squirrel-proof feeder. Squirrel-proof feeders have cages around them or are weight sensitive. This allows birds to eat, while keeping squirrels out. As a bonus for those who like gadgets, these feeders usually look pretty high-tech too.
- Place feeders properly. Squirrels are remarkably agile creatures. They can jump as far as 10 feet, from branch to feeder. If you can, try placing your feeder far from anything that can serve as a launching pad.
- Hang differently. Hang bird feeders horizontally with wire and string spools, pipe or plastic bottles to make it impossible for the squirrels to climb across. This technique may not be as attractive, but it works extremely well.
- Switch seed. Squirrels love sunflower seed, but are less inclined to eat nyjer or safflower seed. Try switching to these to still attract birds like robins without sharing your seed with the squirrels.
- Higher a trapper. We think this is a little serious, but we’ve read about bird lovers so fed up with the squirrels that they have hired trappers or contacted wildlife control to use traps to remove the squirrels. The problem with this technique is that where a few squirrels are caught, five more pop up in their place (or so the myth goes).
Whatever you do, don’t do this…
No matter how frustrated you are with the squirrels, don’t hunt or poison the squirrels. In addition, greasing polls and releasing cats to hunt the squirrels can be just as harmful to birds as squirrels, so if you’re a bird lover you’ll want to avoid these.
Consider cohabitation with squirrels
Our favorite technique for keeping squirrels out of your bird feeders is to give them one of their own. Most of the time, if you feed squirrels on the ground or on a squirrel feeder they will stay out of your bird seed and provide hours of entertainment with their antics. For just four or five dollars a month, you can give up the battle, but win the war.