Written By: Sarah Girton
Well you knew it was coming…although squirrels are cute, fluffy little furballs, they can sometimes be a pest. They are not shy about stuffing their faces with birdseed when they get the chance. Today we will be discussing safe, humane methods for keeping squirrels at bay. There are a lot of options, so choosing which methods work best for you will keep your birds happy and your stress levels low.
There are physical ways to keep them away from your seed, such as pole baffles, hanging baffles, feeder cages, and placement of feeders. There are also seed and suet blends that contain hot pepper, which is harmless to birds, but unpleasant to squirrels.
Unfortunately some other methods, although effective, are both inhumane and dangerous. Spinning squirrel-proof feeders might make for some amusing YouTube videos, but they can injure and disorient the squirrels. More moving parts = more risk. It’s also not advisable that you utilize traps and poison. While squirrels might seriously irk some people, the bottom line is that they are animals just trying to survive, and the squirrels do not deserve to suffer injury, abuse, or death just for wanting to eat.
There are a myriad of physical deterrents to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders. Different methods work best for different people, so learning about your options can help you come to an informed decision.
If you have a pole system that you attach your feeders to, you can use a pole baffle to keep squirrels from climbing up the pole. There are also hanging baffles that you can hang above individual feeders that keeps squirrels from accessing the feeders from above.
One of the most effective and fool-proof items you can buy (if you have tube feeders) are cages with at least a 1.5” hole diameter, which will allow songbirds through but not squirrels and larger birds. Our cages provide 360° of protection, and are easy to attach to any Wild Birds Unlimited tube feeder.
Keep in mind that squirrels can jump up to five feet vertically and eight feet horizontally, so plan your feeder placement accordingly!
If you haven’t heard, there’s a nearly fool-proof way to keep squirrels away from your feeders, and it’s not much higher than your typical bird food bill. The capsaicin in hot peppers is a natural defense produced by the plant to keep mammals away from the seeds. Fortunately for birds, this chemical has no effect, due to differing protein receptors in the birds’ mouths. In fact, plants in the Capsicum family WANT birds to be the primary disperser of their seeds, because birds travel the greatest distances of any land animal. This ensures the plants’ genes are spread over the most area possible — a win for the plants.
So naturally, hot pepper makes for a great squirrel deterrent. Wild Birds Unlimited has seed mixes, suet cakes and cylinders, seed cakes and cylinders, and other food items to keep your birds happy and your squirrels at bay!
You will have the greatest success keeping squirrels from your bird feeders by implementing several of the methods we’ve discussed today. Obviously nothing is absolute and if there is a starving or desperate squirrel they may be harder to keep away. But overall these tips should really help you in your quest to keep squirrels off your feeders!