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7 Steps On How to Avoid Squirrels in Bird Feeders?

Are you a bird lover but don’t know how to avoid squirrels in bird feeders? Any bird lover will attest to the fact that watching birds elicits a sensation of serenity and connection with nature.

Similarly, having bird feeders in your backyard will likely grant you this stupendous experience by attracting a flock of varied birds. But how do you stop squirrels from eating from your birds’ food? That is why you’re reading this article, as this and many more concerns will be addressed.

However, only one problem, Squirrels, the cute little critters, will always come in handy to spoil the fun.

Often featuring as unauthorized guests, squirrels are fond of invading bird feeders. That must be certainly annoying, right?

Well, if you are here, you are most likely fed up with these little creatures, and you are looking for tested and proven ways to keep them off. Stick around and find out the most effective methods of dealing with these voracious rodents.

Do Squirrels Eat Bird Food?

Yes, squirrels will gladly eat birds’ food as long as it contains what they love to eat.

Squirrels have an insatiable appetite for bird food and would risk it all to get their dirty hands-on bird feeders. Bird food usually consists of seeds, fruits, and nuts that double up as squirrels’ favorite food.

Conversely, not every bird food is enticing to squirrels. Millet, Canary seeds, and Nyjer seeds are examples of bird food that would make squirrels walk away from a bird feeder disappointed.

how to avoid squirrels in bird feeders
Squirrels do eat birds’ food since it usually consists of seeds, fruits, and nuts that make up parts of what they eat in the wild.

Unfortunately, starved squirrels don’t bargain on food and will literally chew on anything they come across. So, how exactly do we keep them at bay from bird feeders regardless of their hunger games?

How to Avoid Squirrels in Bird Feeders?

Your patience has finally paid off! Straight away, let’s dig into some of the best techniques to deal with our uninvited guests.

Step#1: Strategic Positioning

Our first trick is to place bird feeders away from trees as far as possible. Why would we do that? Squirrels have outstanding athletic abilities that enable them to scurry and jump from tree to tree with so much ease.

This means that if bird feeders are placed near trees, squirrels get the advantage of raiding them since they will strategically use trees as launch pads to climb to the feeders.

Have you come across a 5-7-9 rule anywhere? No, I guess. You wouldn’t be here in that case. Basically, the 5-7-9 rule is a dimensional approach on where to place your bird feeders.

Therefore, your feeder should be 5 feet above the ground, 7 feet aside from any potential launching object, and 9 feet from above. That sounds like a good way to go!

Birds & feeder (Credit: Backyard Productions / Canva.com)

Step#2: Consider Squirrel-Proof Feeder Poles

Oops! It turns out placing bird feeders away from trees is not enough. Apparently, squirrels are good climbers and can also sneak their way into the bird feeders using the feeder poles. 

Squirrel-proof feeder poles are designed to prevent squirrels from climbing up to the feeders.

They also have smoothened surfaces that restrict movement and baffles or stoppers just below the feeders to give squirrels a hard time finding them into the food source. That is if they manage to climb!

Step#3: Introduce Spices to The Bird Food

Time to introduce some hot sauce into our bird food for our guests! I guess they’ll love it. Not really! 

Capsaicin is a compound in hot peppers, and it is responsible for the burning effect we usually experience in our tongues. Capsaicin only affects mammals; thus, birds can eat food coated with it and not have problems.

It looks like our little friends have been busted! Well, squirrels are also mammals thus get irritated by food seasoned with peppers—quite an impressive way to keep squirrels off bird feeders.

Step#4: Invest in Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders

A squirrel-proof feeder works by employing mechanisms that only favor the feeding of birds while making it difficult for squirrels even to approach the food source.

Many types of bird feeders in the market promise to get rid of squirrels while employing different techniques.

The caged bird feeder is an example that works by enclosing the feeder in a wire mesh that is sized to allow birds into the cage and restrict squirrels from entering the cage.

This, however, only works for small birds like the Weebills and the flinches. Another example is a weight-sensitive bird such as the Absolute II Hooper.

It works on weight principles such that if anything heavier than a bird lands on it, it automatically closes the feeder doors. Hence, only birds can perch and eat comfortably from these feeders.

Step#5: Feeding the Intruders

Here comes the hardest part for individuals who wish to have squirrels out of their backyards. Well, squirrels also constitute as wild nature just as birds; why not feed them to avoid the trouble of having to keep them away from bird feeders?

You can build or buy a feeder for squirrels to place in a different position and stick it with peanuts. This will definitely keep them away from the bird feeders.

A man feeding squirrel
Intentionally feeding your backyard squirrels will make them stop eating from your bird’s feeder

Step #6: Change the Bird Food

As much as squirrels are lovers of bird food, they also have reservations about certain types of bird food. Birds, on the other hand, scale down on anything offered as seeds.

Nyjer seeds, Canary seeds, and millet are a turn-off for squirrels. A good approach is blending the squirrel repellant seeds with the regular sunflower seeds and nuts to irritate our little friends and give them no choice other than to walk away.

Step #7: A Clean Yard Keeps Squirrels Away

Finally, the most important trick is to keep your yard clean, specifically the area under the bird feeders. Residues from the feeders that fall to the ground beneath are prone to attracting unwanted guests other than squirrels.

Thus, keeping the area clean is an added advantage. You can attach an object like a tray to hold the falling fragments underneath the feeder.

How Do I Stop Squirrels from Climbing My Bird Feeder Pole?

The choice of a feeder pole always determines if squirrels will get to the bird feeders. Most feeder poles are made of metals or wood, making it easy for a squirrel to find their way up to the feeders.

Thus, the best feeder poles are made from plastic or PVC as they offer a smooth finishing on the sides, which makes things hard for acrobatic creatures.

Therefore, investing in a squirrel-proof feeder pole is an effective solution to stopping squirrels from climbing your feeders.

The best way to stop squirrels from climbing your bird feeder’s pole [source: ionamic]

Wrapping Up

Birds are entertaining to watch, and so are squirrels. However, squirrels are famous for invading bird feeders in an attempt to fill their bellies.

We, therefore, feel the necessity to keep them away from the feeders using methods such as changing the bird food and using squirrel-proof bird feeders.

However, it is only humane if we show love for nature and these cute creatures by also offering them food rather than finding means to scare them away.

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