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Squirrels. A bird watcher’s number one enemy for using bird feeders. These pesky critters are devilishly clever, making them that much harder to keep out of everything. They are agile, able to jump over five feet to get to their next landing spot. When they are falling, they calculate where they are going to land, and they use that bushy tail to rotate so their feet land first.
How do you defend your bird feeder from such a cunning animal? Well, we have a list for you that doesn’t involve anyone getting hurt. Let’s look at the 7 proven methods to keep squirrels from becoming your nemesis.
There are feeders out there that include a method to keep squirrels out of your birdseed. Most times these critters are going to climb the pole, but they can’t if you have something in the way to stop them. You’re going to have two different options here too.
The Manufactured Pole
The first is you buy a pole that is specifically manufactured to stop squirrels. These will have a device called the baffle. This baffle is a rounded slippery dome, often with a longer tube surrounding it, making it so the squirrels have no grip. Some of these baffles are spring-loaded. If a squirrel tries to get up, the baffle springs down and shakes them off without harm.
The second method is buying a baffle that attaches to your pole. There are two different versions that you could buy. The torpedo baffle is a longer baffle and longer. Then there is the wrap-around baffle that is wider and prevents squirrels from reaching around it to get above it.
When placing your baffle though, remember squirrel can jump vertically about four feet. You’ll want to place it above that so they can’t just jump over it.
Squirrels have this amazing jump range, making it hard to place a feeder. That much is just solid fact.
When searching for the perfect place for your feeder you are going to want to place it 10 feet away from trees, housing, fences, power lines, or anything else they can use as a launchpad. These insanely smart animals will figure out how to jump from one spot to get to your feeder if they find they can do it.
Place your feeder just out of their reach and they will try to get it but miss. Don’t worry, squirrels are like cats, they always land on their feet.
If you can’t keep these daredevils away from your feeder after trying the above methods, it is time to look into a squirrel proof feeder. Luckily, they are pretty easy to find and they come in a variety of looks to fit every aesthetic.
These feeders work great if you can’t seem to win any other way. The platform where the birds land is weight sensitive. If they put too much weight on the perch, then the feeder snaps shut and it denies access to the food. Most birds are lighter than a squirrel, and even with five on there, the perch shouldn’t trigger.
It is also a great way to keep bigger birds from landing on your feeders, scaring the smaller ones away.
There are feeders out there that are surrounded by a metal cage to stop squirrels. The openings in the cage are small enough that squirrels can’t enter, but big enough for birds to. The downside to these is the squirrels can often reach through the cage and get some feed. However, your birds will be safe from hawks that love to swoop down and snag a songbird.
These are probably the most fun to have, even if they are more expensive than the other two. These have a motor inside that is triggered by weight. A squirrel lands on the feeder, the motor kicks in and starts to spin. The spin tosses the squirrel off and hopefully discourages them from trying again.
While it might seem like these furry thieves love all food, it just isn’t true. Most birdseed is going to contain all the foods that they like. Corn, nuts, sunflower seed, and fruit are all big-ticket items for squirrels.
Here are some foods that your neighborhood squirrel won’t touch.
These small white seeds are that squirrels just don’t like. Cardinals, chickadees, titmice, and a variety of finches are all big lovers of this seed. Blackbirds also won’t eat safflower seeds, which makes for more room on your feeder for the little songbirds.
This is one of the favorite food for finches so, if that is in your area, then get you some. Squirrels aren’t a fan of this seed and will leave it alone completely. This small thin seed is a great source of energy for birds but must be too small for squirrels.
White Proso Millet
These little seeds are big for doves and other small birds. It is a more summer seed than anything, but squirrels just won’t bother. It is possible it is so small they get nothing out of it or they just don’t like the taste.
Try Hot Peppers
Squirrels do not like the heat behind peppers. The part of the pepper that makes the heat is called capsaicin, and it is found in the seeds of the pepper. That little seed can vary in heat level, and that is why some peppers are hotter than others.
Like us humans, squirrels can also feel the pain, discomfort, and burning after eating a hot pepper. Squirrels hate that feeling. Birds can eat capsaicin all day without the feeling. That is because mammals are the only ones that feel the heat as it messes with nerve endings in the mouth.
With that in mind, there is capsaicin powder you can dust over your birdseed and the squirrels will only eat it once. There are also mixes that have the capsaicin already in it without having to go through the extra step.
Birds can eat capsaicin and be perfectly safe too. You won’t have to worry about it hurting your birds. It also won’t hurt the squirrels, just give them that uncomfortable feeling that they will associate with that food and leave it alone.
If all else fails, just give them their own feeder. If you want to stop them and nothing else is working, try setting up their own feeder away from the bird feeder. If you can’t beat them, join them.
Set up a feeder on the ground that is open and easy for them. They will leave your bird feeder alone and still be happy. Giving them their own feeder, they don’t have to go through the extra work for the bird feeder. Corn and sunflower seeds are the best for this in of feeder, as that is their favorite food.
There are many methods out there to get rid of the squirrels. However, many of them don’t end up great for the squirrel or anything that tries to eat the squirrel.
While they seem to never end, squirrels are a significant food source for the hawks in your area or other birds of prey. Eliminating the squirrels means the hawks and other predators will come after the very birds you are trying to watch.
All of those can lead to problems not just with squirrels but other wildlife in the area. There are far easier methods to getting squirrels to stop than resorting to killing.
Squirrels are a bother, but they can be fun creatures in the end. Watching them try to figure out how to get to your feeder when they can’t, can be a fun game. If you can’t get rid of them, embrace it and make it a game. At the end of the day, these pesky creatures are just trying to survive like your birds.
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Featured image credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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