How to Get Rid of Squirrels in Your Bird Feeders

One home made solution to keep squirrels off of a suet feeder.
One home made solution to keep squirrels off of a suet feeder. | Source

Having some type of haven like a birdbath or bird feeder in your backyard is extremely popular, with some estimates that over 50 million Americans have a bird feeder in the back yard. But too often we find we are feeding the squirrels instead of the birds in the yard. While no method is foolproof, here are some ideas on how to get rid of squirrels in the bird feeders in your yard.

Offend the Squirrel's Taste Buds

The simplest approach is to use bird food that the squirrels don't find attractive. One seed type that has been found to be effective in some cases is safflower. It has a somewhat more bitter taste than many other bird seeds, so the squirrels don't prefer it. However, squirrels are persistent, and may decide to go ahead and eat safflower seed if there is no other alternative around. Also, if you are battling chipmunks as well, they seem to enjoy safflower, so you need another approach.

One other type of seed that seems much more effective is pepper bird seed. This is simply a seed mixture that has some type of pepper seed, typically cayenne pepper, mixed in with it. The squirrels find it as offensive as humans would, and the "heat" will keep them away. However, birds are not sensitive to the "heat" in pepper, and will feed on it with no ill effects. You can find pepper bird seed, or for the winter months a popular bird food is hot pepper suet. You simply put the pepper suet blocks in your regular suet feeder, and the squirrels figure it out soon enough.

Block the Squirrels from the Feeder

Here the approach is to keep the squirrels away.  There are a variety of alternatives to doing this.  The first key is to mount the bird feeder away from building roofs or low tree branches.   Squirrels are amazing leapers, and can defeat many squirrel baffles or squirrel proof poles by simply leaping directly to the feeder if you give them a jumping off point, so make sure you've addressed that first.

If you are mounting the feeder on a feeder pole, then there are a number of baffle designs for poles.  There are also some pole designs that have moving sleeves and other moving parts, or you can simply go with what looks like an inverted cone to keep the squirrels out.

Caged Squirrel Proof Feeders

What seems like an obvious solution is to simply cage the feeder to keep the squirrels out. This can be very effective, but not always 100% so. Smaller squirrels can often reach inside a cage bird feeder, and on the flip side an effective mesh size for keeping squirrels at bay can also keep out some larger birds that you may be trying to feed. Also, squirrels are almost as good as rats when it comes to chewing through feeder parts, so any plastic parts will easily get destroyed if that ia all thats blocking the squirrels.

You have to watch the design of these, as squirrel will often hang from their back feet upside down to avoid putting weight on the mechanism that closes the portal.

Push or Drop the Squirrels off the Feeders

A couple of different ideas at work here. You can find feeders that have simple weight activated parts that usually block the squirrels access to the feeder by closing portal or shutting a door. Others have a perch that collapses under the weight of the squirrel, dropping them to the ground, or rolling the feeder assembly to drop them to the ground.

Motorized Feeders - These are the top end of squirrel proof feeder designs, with some sort of battery operated motor that activates under the weight of a squirrel, and typically spins the feeder. The most popular of these is the Droll Yankees Whipper, which includes the tube feeder as part of the assembly. If you already have a feeder, there are standalone motorized baffles like the Twirl A Squirrel or the Contech Squirrel Stop, which are basically baffles that have a motor and a weight sensitive switch that you hang your present feeder from and will start spinning when the squirrel gets on the feeder.

Squirrel Buster In Action

Yankee Flipper in Action

Outwitting Squirrels

My father-in-law was the king of contraptions to try and outwit the squirrels. In this book, you can read about different ways to outwit the squirrels that give you problems!

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Comments 2 comments

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

We tried the hot pepper approach and the baffles too. I used to hang different things on the feeders because I heard that squirrels don't like change. We had an old plastic deer head that I put on top of the feeder which looked rather odd and boy the neighbors talked. I found that the spring loaded feeder works best. It closes due to the weight of the squirrel. Great hub!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Really good hub with lots of good information....thanks. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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