Squirrel-Proofing Your Birdfeeder – A Lost Cause?
By Chris Williams on January 18, 2016.
It’s that time of year when folks are bringing out the birdfeeders (assuming you ever took them in at all). Maybe you were even gifted with a birdfeeder for Christmas. Feeding birds is an enjoyable, educational pastime…unless you are spending all of your time watching gray squirrels raid your feeders. Then bird feeding can become an expensive, frustrating pastime. Can you keep squirrels off of your feeders?
There are lots of squirrel-proofing feeder options, only some of which work at all, maybe, for just a little while, if you’re lucky. Some feeders themselves claim to be squirrel-proof with tricks such as cage coverings or perches that drop with a squirrel’s extra weight. Most people opt for some type of pole guard such as a baffle, cylinder, or slanted platform that keeps climbing squirrels from getting up the pole to the feeder.
Location is Your First Consideration
If you’re installing a new feeder, remember “location, location, location.” If you’re trying to avoid squirrel robbery, hanging a birdfeeder from a tree limb is a laughable situation. Likewise, a birdfeeder that is too close to trees or a wall or any other object that a squirrel can climb is doomed. Doesn’t matter whether the pole has baffles or not if a squirrel can climb a tree and jump (up to 8 feet) across and land on your feeder. Same goes for location up from the ground. Gray squirrels can pull off a standing vertical jump of several feet so your feeder has to be at least 6 feet off of the ground.
Maybe Flying Squirrels Are the Problem
You may have finally found the perfect pole baffle and it looks like the gray squirrels have given up. But your birdseed still seems to be disappearing at a too-rapid rate. You may have nocturnal flying squirrel raiders that are able to bypass all of your fancy pole deterrents. Flying squirrels are common in our region, but they are active at night so you may never see them. If your feeders are close enough to trees, flying squirrels can glide from a tree perch 20-60 feet and finish with a perfect landing on your feeder (see Will Flying Squirrels Feed at Bird Feeders?). These little guys could even be denning in your attic.
Give Squirrels Their Own Feeder?
Many people would tell you that trying to keep squirrels off of a bird feeder is a lost cause, better just to learn to live with it. Maybe trying to keep them off of a particular feeder is the wrong approach. Instead, you could purposely attract them to a decoy feeder. Install a squirrel-friendly feeder as an alternative feeding station that will keep squirrels away from your primary bird-feeding sites, or away from your garden, or away from any other areas where you prefer not to have squirrel visitors (see How to Keep Squirrels Off of Bird Feeders).
House mice and deer mice and voles all like birdseed too. Remember to diligently clean up spilled birdseed under your feeder to keep mice from setting up a little community nearby (see Bird Feeders Attract Birds, and Rodents…and Snakes! ) If the squirrels or the mice become too much, give Colonial Pest a call. We do nuisance wildlife trapping too!