How To Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders:
The 10 Most Effective Ways

Are you looking for ways to keep squirrels out of bird feeders? Is it becoming annoying to see less birds every day in your backyard? Read on.

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Iñigo Navarro

May 16, 2021


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What’s The Post About?

Allowing an intruder to invade the peaceful experience of birds enjoying their feed in your backyard can only be done once or twice. However, the frequent visit of such uninvited visitors may not only annoy you but can also drive away from the yard, your much-desired guests, the birdies.

Who’s this intruder anyway? The innocent-looking squirrel is cunning enough to steal all the bird feed and can be a great threat to the bird feeder in your yard.

To keep squirrels out of bird feeders, you can outsmart the squirrels with the placement of bird feeders, use a baffle, use a toy slinky, cage them, use flowers to keep them apart, feed your birds with what squirrels hate, use odor as a critter repellent and use alternate bird seeds which repels squirrels.

What Are Some Myths About Squirrels And Birds?

squirrel next to bird feeder

A myth related to squirrels and birds include that squirrels can kill and eat birds. At most a squirrel can eat a dead bird but it will not prey on a living one.

You may find it absurd that these little critters can cause harm to the birds. Nonetheless, you are here reading this post because this innocent-looking creature must have caused you trouble, making you wonder as to how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders.

Regardless of the reason, squirrels may not prey on birds but there are various aspects as to how squirrels can be a threat to birds. This post shares several tips to keep squirrels away from the bird feeder or even completely out of your yard.

However, before we explore those tips, let’s read through some common myths about squirrels and birds.

Myth: Squirrels prey on birds

It is very rare for squirrels to prey on birds, whether they are small or not. They are omnivores and may eat flesh, however, they are more prone to eat nuts, corn or seeds, etc.

Myth: Squirrels are a threat to birds

Unlike preying on small birds, this is partially true. Squirrels act aggressively when they perceive that they will lose potential food. When a bird tries to reach for a bird feeder to feed, squirrels are more likely to bully them and fly them away.

Myth: Squirrels can kill birds

They may eat dead birds but are unlikely to kill one to feed on it. Squirrels tend to scavenge the lifeless birds that die for whatever reason but are highly unlikely to kill a bird.

Apart from these myths about squirrels, it is most likely for squirrels to be an uninvited guest that frequently pays a visit to your backyard. This can be a serious threat not to the birds directly but is a threat to their feed.

They stay around the bird feeders unless they finish the entire feed present in it.

How To Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders?

squirrel on feeder

To keep squirrels away from bird feeders, you must place the feeder out of the squirrel’s reach. You can also use a toy slinky and a baffle to dissuade the animal. Even caging the feeder works!

You may be deceived by the innocence that squirrels carry and may not want to drive them away. Nonetheless, the little trouble that they may have caused you is the reason why you are reading about the 10 effective ways to keep them away from bird feeders without causing them any harm.

1. Outsmart The Squirrels with The Placement of Bird Feeders

Use harmless measures to prevent squirrels from reaching out to the bird feeders.

How you place your feeder can determine the fate of the bird feed in it. These cute little creatures are cunning enough to make their way to the bird feeders in your backyard unless you outsmart them and be clever enough to place your bird feeders away from their reach.

Keeping your bird feeders out of the reach of these critters can be tricky unless you know the 5-7-9 rule. This is the most common and productive way to keep the squirrels at bay.

  • What’s the 5-7-9 rule?

This rule tells us about the calculated leaps the squirrels are likely to take.

  1. A squirrel is highly unlikely to jump more than 5 feet in the air
  2. The range of a squirrel to move from one point to another is 7 feet which means that they cannot move across more than 7 feet in one leap
  3. A squirrel cannot jump onto a spot that is more than 9 feet away
  • How Can You Use This Rule?

This rule enables you to place your bird feeder just in the right position. Hang your bird feeder according to these calculations. Your uninvited guest cannot make their way to a bird feeder since it is beyond its reach.

  • What’s More About the Placement?

Use a string to hang your bird feeder. You can tie it around 8 feet apart from one point to another. Squirrels may be an all-rounder but a string that keeps shaking won’t let an intruder make its way to the bird feeder.

2. Use a Baffle.

Knock them off the pole if they don't stay at bay.

The second most effective way to keep them away is to use a baffle. Baffles tend to keep squirrels away from the feed as they hinder their way up to the feeders. Various types of baffles can help you resolve this issue by acting as a preventive measure to keep squirrels from stealing food that is not meant for them.

In case the squirrel makes its way to the feeder through the ground, you can use a torpedo baffle. It hangs loosely on the ground, causing squirrels to roll down to the floor, every time they try to reach out for the bird feeder.

If you do not want to disjoint your bird feeder from the pole then you can use a wrap-around baffle that attaches to the pole without having to remove the bird feeder. Below are the two most liked baffles available on Amazon that have proven to be effective.

One is Aspect Super Tube II Dome Baffle:

Aspect Super Tube II Dome Baffle

The 18 inch diameter dome offers the ultimate protection from rain, snow and squirrels.

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This works wonders when it comes to keeping the feed dry and fresh for a long period. It does not only protect your bird feed from the squirrels but also protects it from various weather conditions.

The wide expansion of the dome allows the birds to enjoy their meal without having to share it with an unwanted visitor like squirrels. Rated 4.6 out of 5, this baffle has won the hearts of many.

You can consider the Audubon Torpedo Steel Squirrel Baffle too:

Audubon Torpedo Steel Squirrel Baffle

Consider getting this awesome torpedo shaped steel squirrel baffle made of textured powder-coated steel.

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It is a slide-on baffle that makes the squirrel roll down to the ground. It works great as a squirrel-repellent and has been rated 4.1 out of 5.

This fits any pole easily and is made of textured powder-coated steel that makes it resistant enough to any weather condition as well as the unwelcome squirrels.

3. A Toy Slinky Can Help You Too!

Who knew that a toy spring could save you from a great deal of frustration, by keeping your uninvited guest away from your backyard. A slinky attached to the pole where you hang your bird feeder can help you resolve the issue of keeping the squirrels from climbing.

  • How Does A Slinky Work?

You simply need to attach one end of the slinky to the pole and allow it to fall all over it. When a squirrel tries to climb the pole, slinky tends to make it drop to the ground.

You may not only keep it away from the bird feeder but may also feel a bit guilty of laughing at the sight of a squirrel being dropped on the ground by a spring. Birds on the other hand are left unbothered and can enjoy a worry-free meal.

4. Cage Them Around!

squirrel close to caged feeder

Caging squirrels will do you no good if you are not willing to pet them. Even if you are willing to do so, then this isn’t about caging squirrels. It is about caging the bird feeder.

Caging bird feeders has been proven to be one of the most efficient ways to keep the squirrel from reaching out to a bird feeder. You can use mesh wire to wrap around the bird feeder. This will keep the bird feeder out of the reach of squirrels.

If mesh wire does not sound like a good idea then you can install a bird feeder in a cage. The poles of the cage would hinder their way to the bird feeder allowing only the birds to reach it.

Another way to keep your bird feeder out of the reach of the squirrels is to get one from the Amazon. Amazon has a variety of caged bird feeders that you can buy to prevent this critter from stealing bird feed.

If you’re not sure of what should be the best choice, then here’s one of the best, caged bird feeders available for purchase. Droll Yankees Domed Caged Bird Feeder can be a good addition to your backyard that best serves your purpose.

Droll Yankees Domed Caged Bird Feeder

The wire cage allows songbirds to eat while preventing large birds and squirrels from getting a meal

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5. Use Flowers to Keep Them Apart!

Several flowers can be grown to keep the birds coming to your backyard. At the same time these flowers can also act as a repellent to the notorious squirrels. Here’s a list of plants that you can grow that will help you in keeping squirrels at bay.

  • Hyacinth
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Daffodil
  • Alliums
  • Geranium

These plants have a wide range of characteristics that keep the squirrels apart. Their vibrant flowers act as an attraction to the birds while as a repellent for the uninvited guests that voraciously consume all the food that is meant for the birds.

6. Feed Your Birds With What Squirrels Hate!

birds feeding from feeder

If they come uninvited, treat them with food that they don't approve of.

One way to make squirrels turn their face away from the feeders is to feed the birds with food that they do not approve of. A couple of seeds have proven to be not only healthy for the birds but also as a repellent to the stubborn squirrels that bully the birds away. One of those seeds is called Nyjer seeds.

These seeds do not only fulfill the nutritional needs of the birds especially in winters but have also proven to be effective in keeping squirrels out of sight.

While birds may love nyjer seeds since they provide nourishment for their feathers and the proteins in them help the birds to face various weather conditions, squirrels are highly deterred by them because of their bitter taste.

They may be expensive but the cost of refilling your bird feeders is saved. You are more likely to bear a higher cost upon filling the bird feeder again and again since the squirrels eat the entire feed, but this cost can be saved if you switch entirely to Nyjer seeds.

7. Spice Up the Buffet!

Add a flavor of hot peppers to annoy your critters away.

Birds are least bothered if you spice up their feed by adding hot peppers. Nonetheless, squirrels hate to have a taste of spices. Since squirrels are mammals therefore, they cannot bear the taste of spices.

Humans may be fond of eating spicy food being a mammal too, however, the squirrels are highly unsettled upon having a taste of hot peppers. It is an effective way to fend off the stubborn squirrels who are unwilling to give up on your yard.

Pro-Tip

Use pepper spray to keep squirrels apart.

8. Odor as Critter Repellent!

One of the cheapest yet efficient ways of keeping squirrels away from your yard is to keep it aromatic with smells that repel the squirrels. You can outsmart them by using cider vinegar to keep them from coming back.

All you need to do is dip a towel or a piece of cloth in vinegar and place it where the visits are most frequent. This will drive away squirrels in no time since the sharp smell of vinegar is disliked by them.

Pro-Tip

Change the dampened towel when the smell of the vinegar starts to fade.

9. Mothball

Another good squirrel-repellent is mothball. If a squirrel is quite overwhelmed by the attic of your backyard, then all you need to do is to place some mothballs around the house, especially in places where the squirrels are most likely to invade the peace of both you and your bird.

Warning

Avoid using a mothball if people in your house are bothered by its smell.

10. Keep Your Backyard Tidy!

squirrel eating bird food

The best way to keep them away from the bird feeder and your backyard is to eliminate the core reasoning for their unwanted arrival. Squirrels take the scattered seeds on the ground as an invitation.

Once they find food in your backyard, there is no possibility of them leaving your backyard so soon unless you outsmart them. For that, it is inevitably essential that you keep your backyard tidy and wipe off any residue left on the ground.

This residue does not only signal the squirrels for a feast but is also harmful to the health of the birds that are meant to keep your backyard occupied in the first place.

What’s Not to Be Done?

You may be super annoyed by the squirrels being invaders in your backyard. However, they intend to seek food which is no crime. Therefore, do not sentence them to punishments that are too cruel.

Here’s a list of things that you must avoid in your earnest desire to keep them away from your backyard.

Poison

Do not contaminate their food with anything fatal to them. Use tips that are mentioned in this post to drive them away but do not kill them for seeking food in your backyard and being a thief to the bird feeder.

Glue traps

Trying to stick them with glue will only make you feel guilty for being a little too harsh. Avoid using glue traps as this can be toxic for them, and they can die because of being trapped.

Cats

It is understandable that you are annoyed by the fact that no matter what you do, these stubborn squirrels just won’t leave your yard. Nonetheless, do not unleash your cat to hunt them down. You don’t want to carry a sense of guilt of having them hunted down by a cat.

Warning

If the cat is out to hunt a squirrel, it might not be able to discriminate between the bird and the squirrel.

Keep Reading!

One way to keep them deterred from the bird feeder is to install one for them. Squirrels may be quite notorious and may be fond of invading your backyard every time but you can keep them tamed by allowing them to feast on food that is solely meant for them.

You can allow them to be your friend by installing feeders for them. Ensure to place feeders for squirrels farther from the point where you hang your bird feeder. If you still want them to leave, make them leave by using the above-mentioned tips.

Regardless, now that you’ve learned how to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeders, here’s a post which you can read about the best bird feeders for your home

Best Bird Feeders for Hummingbirds: The 13 Top Rated Feeders

Are you a hummingbird lover? Make this adorable little bird visit your garden by adding one of these top-rated feeders to your backyard.

Iñigo Navarro Picture

By Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Iñigo Navarro Picture

Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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