The battle with squirrels begins as soon as the first bird feeder is hung. Their ability to hang upside down and contort their bodies in seemingly hundreds of forms, makes the battle between the bird watcher and these furry little critters much like the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote.
While many people enjoy watching them and their antics, this article is for those who want to know how to keep them off their bird feeders.
Our main focus is to prevent them from getting at our sunflower seed feeders. This type of seed tends to be more expensive and attracts the greatest variety of birds, we want to limit the seed to just the birds.
If you use nyjer (thistle) seed you'll have little problems with squirrels, as they are less interested in dinning on nyjer seed. Of course there are exceptions.
There are two main goals we are trying to accomplish: (1) Keeping them from reaching our sunflower feeders, and
(2) Should they reach them, keeping them from damaging the feeder by chewing it apart.
(1) Begin by surveying the site where you want to place your feeder. Bird feeders should be 8 feet away from any tree trunk, limb, or rooftop. Place feeders at least 5-6 feet above ground.
(2) Baffles - baffles are round umbrella-shaped barriers that are place either above a hanging feeder or below on a pole mounted feeder. On pole mounted feeders, baffles need to be at least 4 feet up on the pole. Five feet above ground is even better.
(3) Another method you may want to consider is using PVC pipe, available at local building supply stores. They are unable to climb on the PVC pipe if it's diameter is large enough.
Using a 8 inch diameter PVC pipe 6 feet long and 1 treated 4 x 4 x 8 post. Place the treated fence post 2 feet in the ground and slide the pipe over the post. Attach feeder to the 4 x 4 post.
Remember to place feeders far enough from overhanging tree branches and rooftops to keep them from jumping to the feeder.
Bird feeders made from wood are the most susceptible to damage and are easily torn apart by the teeth of these animals.
Try using the methods above in order to deter them from destroying your feeders,
Once they are able to reach your wooden feeder, they'll make short work of chewing it apart to get at the bird seed.
Look for feeders that are made from tough plastic such as Lexan, as well as metal-reinforced portals where the birds get the seed.
Another good choice is a plastic tubular feeder surrounded by a grid of vinyl-coated wire. Hung from a branch with a baffle on top has worked very well in preventing squirrels from eating.
One of my favorites is made of steel and has a spring loaded platform on which the weight of the squirrel or large bird will close the feeder door. This type of feeder can be placed just about anywhere. While a bit pricey, this unit will last for years and is an excellent investment. See one here: Spring Loaded. This type also allows room for birds like Cardinals to feed from.
Another design offered by Droll Yankee, a well known supplier of bird feeders, is the Droll Yankees Flipper This feeder is squirrel proof and almost more fun to watch the squirrels try than feeding the birds, well almost.
Accept that these creatures are a part of nature and offer cracked corn on low platform feeders for them. Cracked or Whole Kernel Corn is inexpensive and can be found at farm supply stores and most places that offer bird seed. When using corn, placed it close to the ground away from your bird feeders to draw them away.
Another option is to use Diversion Feeders. These are feeders that will attract them away from your bird feeders. Who knows, maybe you'll come to enjoy their activity on a cold day when there seems to be no other life in the great outdoors.
Be sure to visit our Squirrel Proof Feeders page for more ideas and types of feeders.
The Habits of The Red Squirrels
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