Feeding the birds in the backyard is a rewarding experience, but sometimes this can be frustrating because if you don’t have a squirrel-proof feeder or you don’t know how to make one of these bird feeders, these creatures will irritate you and birds also.
But you can avoid this problem simply by buying squirrel-proof bird feeders or by applying a few tips and tricks to keep squirrels away. Here in this article, we will discuss squirrel-proof bird feeders, how to make one, and what to do if nothing stops the squirrels from destroying the feeder.
Squirrels and Bird Feeders
When you provide the best kind of food such as birdseed, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and suet in the bird feeder, you will attract not only birds but also squirrels. Normally, if the squirrel is a one-time visitor, the birds won’t mind, but the birds will be irritated if they start regular visits. Some of the birders also struggle with squirrels and their voracious appetites. Most birds can share their feeder with other animals, but squirrels tend to start to chase and scare other birds and leave the feeder when it is empty.
In the process of obtaining the delicious bird seed and food, squirrels can also chew on plastic and wooden feeders and cause great damage to them so that they can no longer be used. Squirrels are also predators and can destroy bird eggs and kill the baby birds that hatch recently and make the yard less attractive to birds.
How to Make a Bird Feeder Squirrel Proof?
There are different ways to make the feeder less attractive and less accessible to squirrels, and you can do this without even making the feeder less attractive to birds. These are the few methods to make a bird feeder squirrel-proof and deter squirrels from a feeder.
Squirrels are excellent jumpers and can even jump 10 feet or even higher, so position the feeder well away from porches, cables, trees, roofs, gutters, and other points where the squirrel can jump over the feeder. Ideally, you can place the feeder on a smooth metal post that is at least 6 feet tall and nearly 12 feet away from branches and shrubs.
You can place a wire cage around the bird feeder as it will not allow squirrels to pass through but will prevent small birds from feeding. Wire cages also help keep larger birds, such as Tendrils, Starlings, and Pigeons, out of access to the feeder. Some feeders have cages along with them and, for the rest; you can use chicken wire around the feeder.
Another thing you can do is add a smooth metal or plastic baffle above and below the bird feeder. These baffles are at least 15-20 inches wide and prevent squirrels from reaching the feeders. Most baffles are designed in such a way that they will tilt when a squirrel climbs on them, causing an imbalance and preventing squirrels from reaching the feeder.
Cleanliness is not only important for bird health; it will also keep squirrels away. It is important to keep the area around the feeders clean and free of debris, and if there are any spilled seeds on the ground, they should be cleaned up so that the squirrels are not attracted to the feeder. Plus, it will also help prevent ground-feeding birds from eating old, contaminated seeds.
Bird feeders can also be made squirrel-proof by hanging them with a thin horizontal wire and fitting some caster wheels to prevent squirrels from getting close to the feeder. Spinners can be made from empty spools of thread, empty plastic bottles, a short length of tubing and hose, and all of these things can help keep squirrels away. When a squirrel makes an attempt and the spinners are adjusted to the strings, they will trip and fall off the feeder.
If the squirrels have destroyed the bird feeder, you can purchase a special squirrel-proof feeder with hatches and doors that will close from the weight of the squirrels. This can easily block squirrels from entering, but the birds can still freely feed the feeder. Also, you can go for the metal feeder, which is squirrel proof and can withstand some damage from squirrels.
Since squirrels have tasted most types of bird seed, they may not have tasted safflower or nyjer seeds, both of which taste bitter. If you use these seeds, the arrival of squirrels will decrease, and the seeds of the birds will not be disturbed either.
Most mammals, including squirrels, are very sensitive to the heat of the pepper, but birds are not. Adding pepper or any other spice to bird seed will keep squirrels away, but it is important to use these spicy seeds regularly. When handling peppers, always wear gloves and avoid taking deep breaths while handling these seeds. Some of the retailers even have separate peppers with hotter components for squirrels and other pests.
If you face a very strong squirrel problem in your backyard, you can contact wildlife authorities about possible traps that can help remove squirrels from the area. Methods for catching squirrels vary, but you must follow the guidelines for proper treatment.
When looking for backyard squirrel removal, try to eliminate all possible shelters and locations. Prevent squirrels from nesting under eaves, old sheds, and attics. The further away the squirrel nest is, the less chance there will be that they will visit feeders.
Another way to make the feeder squirrel-proof is by making the bird feeder pole slippery for the squirrels and preventing them from climbing into the feeder. This grease will also stick to the fur of animals and cause disease and irritation to predators. But keep in mind not to add so much grease because it can contaminate the area.
What to do if Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders Don’t Work?
There may be a situation where all the techniques you used and all the tricks cannot help you completely eliminate squirrels from your area no matter what you do. According to experts, if squirrels refuse to leave your backyard, stop feeding them for a few days or weeks and encourage them to move elsewhere to eat. There are high chances that the squirrels will wander away, but there is an equal chance that they will return as soon as you put in new feeders.
In some cases, birders, instead of eliminating the squirrels, engage with them and create a single feeding station for them. These easy-access feeders containing treats such as corn, nuts, and berries can attract squirrels so that the bird feeder will remain secure and the birds will be able to enjoy their food. This is a sign of success for nature enthusiasts, as they watch squirrels eat their food and not spoil the birds’ expensive seeds.
Squirrels are a part of the backyard, just like other wildlife creatures like Jays, Cardinals, and Finches. If squirrels are present in your backyard, they will often come and visit the feeders, but it is possible to squirrel-proof the bird feeder. A bird feeder that is squirrel proof will deter any furry visitor and protect the bird seeds.
You can set goals to bird-watch after you have placed your squirrel-proof bird feeder in your backyard and record your results.