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How to Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders

Abhijit Naik Jan 18, 2019
They may look cute, but the presence of squirrels in your backyard can turn out to be a nuisance if you are a bird-feeding enthusiast. In such circumstances, a squirrel-proof bird feeder can come to your rescue.
A bird feeder or bird table is an instrument usually placed outside the house to supply food for birds. It is a useful device for bird-watching enthusiasts. Some people even go to the extent of planting mini cameras in these feeders to study the behavior of birds.
Bird feeding has gained wide popularity in the United States, especially among bird-watching enthusiasts. They often resort to this activity to attract wild birds to suburban locales. Bird food supplies include seeds, peanuts, kitchen scraps, etc.
Other than the food, a bird-feeding station can also have a bird bath and coarse sand grains, known as grit, which help the birds to grind food as a part of their digestion system.

Bird Feeders

Good bird feeders are those that are convenient to fill and have a capacity of holding a good amount of bird seed. A good capacity bird feeder has two advantages: first, you won't have to refill it on a frequent basis, and second, as there is a good amount of food available, a greater number of birds will flock to the feeder.
There are 3 common types:
  • Platform bird feeder, the simplest one, has an open tray that can be filled with bird food supply.
  • Tube bird feeder, especially designed for small song birds, has a feeding port which facilitates the birds to directly feed from the reservoir.
  • Hopper bird feeder, where seeds are dispensed by the central reservoir while birds eat.
You can either buy a bird feeder or make one of your own. As different bird species have different food preferences, the placement of the feeder and variety of seeds used in it will determine the species and number of birds attracted to it.

How to Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders?

Use Red Pepper Flakes

The biggest threat for your bird feeder is the presence of squirrels in your backyard. These squirrels don't just eat the food, but also carry it away to their borrows for hoarding.
A traditional method to keep them away is to crush red pepper flakes and mix it with the seeds. This mixture doesn't harm the birds, as they lack the receptor to which capsaicin―the active component of chili pepper―bonds.
However, if the squirrels eat it, they are bound to 'face the heat', and thus, they will stay away. This can be an ideal way to get rid of squirrels from your bird house.

Specially Designed Bird Feeders

Innovation has led to the development of various anti-squirrel devices, such as different types of squirrel-proof feeders. These feeders are designed in such a way that the perches collapse if the weight exceeds beyond a limit.
Perches in these feeders only support the weight of birds. If squirrels try to raid the food, the perch collapses, throwing the squirrel down. Available in the market are battery-powered squirrel-proof bird feeders that deliver a light shock to the intruder, and mechanical bird feeders, detecting overweight and spinning the perch to throw off the squirrel.

Caged Bird Feeders

Then there are caged bird feeders, which are helpful in keeping squirrels out. While birds can easily pass through the small gaps left in the cage, it's not possible for squirrels to pass pull off this feat. Caged feeders are ideal for feeding small birds.

Other Fixes

The placement of the bird feeder is also an important factor when it comes to keeping squirrels off the bird food. Placing it in isolation can be your best bet. Additionally, baffles can be used to ensure that these pests don't gain a foothold on the feeder or climb it.
Though they look very simple, these ideas are highly effective. They will keep squirrels at bay and allow you to take the full delight of your bird watching activity.