Mention squirrels to an avid bird enthusiast and you will see the subtle cringe and pursed lips, followed up by a half hour monologue on how annoying these persistent mammals can be. Squirrels are without remorse and certainly are over-achievers when there is bird seed in the equation.
Time and time again, birders chase the haughty gymnasts out of their bird paradise with the likes of full-nozzle –on garden hoses, duct tape, and even Vaseline. The all-out war brings the squirrel convention the next day. People will go to ridiculous lengths to fight what they consider to be public enemy number one, the mighty determined squirrel.
Yet with every problem, there has to be a reasonable solution, right? For all of you bird lovers begging for the sweet songs from birds and not the acceptance speech chatter of the conquering squirrel, you can relax now. Technology has paved a way to save the day. While there are still plenty of home remedies being tested, there are also new and innovative designs in squirrel combat.
This comprehensive ultimate guide to squirrel proof bird feeders will lead you to all the answers for a strategic win against super squirrel. We will tackle issues concerning:
- Choosing the right bird feeder, you are doing it all wrong
- Why understanding squirrel behavior matters
- What are squirrel proof feeders—more importantly, do they work?
- The best anti-squirrel bird feeders to consider
- When you need that added ‘extra’, home remedies do help
Let’s get started, so tomorrow morning you can wake up to a sensory overload of colorful fluttering wings, and harmonious songs.
You Are Doing It All Wrong
We love bird houses, bird feeders, and bird baths. It is not your fault the market is saturated with a beautiful abundance of these products. Here are the four common mistakes people make when shopping for a bird feeder:
Many people tend to believe that all bird products are functional. There are three categories’ for these types of products: 1) ornamental décor, 2) craft only and 3) functional. For the purpose of this guide functional means “squirrel proof in relationship to bird feeders.
- The Takeaway: just because the bird feeder ‘speaks’ to you in a soul-pleasing moment, does not mean it is meant for the birds. In fact, the best bird feeders which actually deter squirrels do not stand out aesthetically; they are designed to do one thing-keep squirrels from dominating your bird’s food.
You can shop for a squirrel proof bird feeder but know your approach completely. A squirrel proof bird feeder is going to go a long way in deterrence, until you place it next to a tree, wires, or some type of launching platform.
- The Takeaway: Before you purchase the best squirrel proof bird feeder in existence, learn what you personally require in ways of squirrel combat. Remember, this is one of nature’s Olympic Games and you want to win.
When following reviews
Much of our shopping is done online these days, and thankfully it provides plenty of options and education. However, if you have ever scrolled down to customer comments on products, you have seen the best and worst of human opinion. While some are completely legit, some are also the result of other misguided intentions. Believe it or not, there are negative reviews slipped in there by competitors, even the biggest authorities on squirrel proof bird feeders get hit. As well, if an item has a five star or even only a one star, this rating does not make sense if only one person has purchased the product.
- The Takeaway: Read the comments, but stay neutral until you completely have a meaningful overview of whether or not the product is for you.
There is no cure-all
Simply put, even if you invest in the very best squirrel proof bird feeder on the market that has all the bells and whistles of squirrel deterrence, you may have to supplement your feeder with other creative ways. Depending on where you live, how your yard is set up, and many other factors, squirrels are furry geniuses who love and accept any challenge.
- The Takeaway: Learn what you can about additional ways to shoo squirrels away and invest in a good squirrel proof feeder.
The Art of War with the Squirrel
It is often said in order to beat your opponent you must understand them first. This couldn’t be any truer for squirrels. To say they are extraordinary is an understatement. Squirrels are the most deceptive creatures found in nature. Researchers have discovered that squirrels can interpret intentions of others through learned behaviors. Put this into perspective when day after day of combat with these seed thieves you are left wondering how they manage to get the upper hand. They love to figure out puzzles. Obstacles are their life.
Squirrels use deceptive caching (food hoarding) to protect their nourishment. If they have access to a source of constant supply of food, they will create endless means to call it their own. They will return to the food resource again and again, because now it is officially theirs.
Add acrobatics to deception, and you have a squirrel that can jump at least five to six feet straight up from the ground. They can launch an amazing distance from a house, tree or any structure in Olympic form. They are brave while being skittish. Don’t let this nervous behavior fool you; you are only an obstacle to them.
To keep them at bay, you have to think like them. If someone put your favorite food out every day, in your own home, and this was the easiest way for you to get food for the day…wouldn’t you be tempted too? The best squirrel proof bird feeder is going to help in ways of flipping them to the ground, or keeping their little feet out of the seed bin, but they will be back to try again.
If you have not developed a total aversion to these little creatures, the best way to keep them off your bird feeders is to provide them their own special feeding platform (far away from the bird feeder) and fill it with their favorite food like peanuts or sunflower seeds. This goes back to the old adage “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
Here in lies a secret benefit. If you are willing to provide the pesky squirrel his own feeder, he will become highly protective of his cache. This essentially means the selfish squirrel will chase other squirrels off the property.
The Amazing Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Over time, and definitely due to necessity, technology has managed to come up with some incredible squirrel proof bird feeders. A squirrel proof bird feeder is designed using different methods and materials to discourage the furry mammal from getting to the bird seed, and keeping all the birds away.
There are six different types of anti-squirrel bird feeders:
Baffles are dome or cone shaped devices that can fit in two places on a bird feeder. They are either above the feeder so the squirrel cannot climb down, or they are underneath so the squirrel cannot climb up. Many of the squirrel proof bird feeders have these built in. You can also buy a baffle separately or make your own baffle system.
These mesh cages are very effective at stopping a squirrel. The concept behind the design is quite simple. The center is the traditional bird feeder and around it is a steel mesh cage material which is just big enough for birds to eat, but the squirrel cannot access the seed. Like baffles, you can buy separately or make your own, however this can be more trouble than it is worth. It is less expensive and more realistic to just purchase the cage feeder, they work so well.
There are some great squirrel proof bird feeders on the market which use a tension-spring action to control what can access the seeds. Some have weight detection built into the perch, so if a squirrel steps on it, the perch is the lever which closes the door to the seeds.
Another type is a spring-activated baffle which collapses and dumps the squirrel to the ground. Similar to tension feeders is the motorized version which when activated by the squirrel will start twirling the base until the squirrel is launched off. There is another version of this which will spin the entire feeder from the top as soon as a squirrel hops on board.
Perches are convenient for squirrels to hang onto while they hungrily grab at the bird seed. There are squirrel proof bird feeders with collapsible perches only. The perch is meant to hold the weight of a bird, and anything heavier will spill the furry mammal to the ground.
Zapper: On the market now is a newer idea for discouraging squirrels from a bird feeder, but it comes with much controversy. Zappers give a harmless shock, similar to static shock, to scare the squirrel away. When a squirrel is trying to get at the seeds, you just press the zapper button.
The rolling bird feeder is a uniquely patented design which sways in different directions when a squirrel launches on it from above. As the squirrel tries to maneuver around it, the rolling action dumps the would-be seed thief to the ground.
Do Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders Work?
Bird advocates and manufacturers have spent a lot of time and research dedicated to this actual problem. Most squirrel proof feeders do deter the little bandits. Some feeders work better than others, yet more efficient designs are being marketed all the time. The only downside to these types of feeders is they meant to work, to be functional and unfortunately, aesthetics are not top priority.
Much of the other necessary work involves creating an environment a squirrel cannot maneuver in. For example, if your bird feeder is close to many squirrel launching platforms, they are going to take great advantage of this. Another area is examining the bird feeder material. Squirrels are notorious for their chewing, and will chew a good-tasting feeder to bits. Consider using a feeder made of an indestructible material like Lexan. Squirrel proof feeders which work well are made with reinforced metal and contain small seed ports. Add to this a counterweighted door that will close automatically when something heavier steps on the platform and you have an excellent squirrel proof system.
What Are the Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders?
Now that you know the essentials of squirrel deterrence, you can make an informed decision when shopping for the appropriate squirrel proof bird feeder. Perhaps you were unaware there was so much information concerning the problems created by squirrels and feeders, so if you are still trying to figure it all out, this is understandable. We will show you some outstanding bird feeders, but remember the ‘squirrel strategy’ mentioned earlier. Pick out the one which will better suit your specific needs in your environment.
This is an exceptional “cage” product and is marketed by a top quality company called Brome. They have created a series of effective squirrel proof feeders. This particular one, the Brome Squirrel Buster Classic has been patented with Squirrel Buster technology, an innovative design which allows for automatic mechanisms to close when a squirrel or anything heavy climbs onto the feeder. Even better, the feeder has a negative grip tube which makes it difficult for squirrels to grab with their legs and hang down while they try to defeat the closing mechanism. It will hold up 1.4 quarts of bird seed.
Brome carries a select variety of squirrel proof feeders. Some people like one over the other, however most will agree these truly are squirrel proof feeders that get the job done. If squirrels are selfishly eating up all your bird seed in competition with your lovely birds, here are the feeders that will save the day.
Try out Droll Yankees Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Jagunda bird feeder. This is a neat solution to a squirrel problem. The Jagunda Squirrel-Proof Pole-Mounted Bird Feeder features a sturdy pole which keeps the bird feeder more than 7 ½ feet off the ground, too high for squirrel jumping and the squirrels cannot reach the food from underneath. It is a Pole-mounted platform, with a hopper-style feeder which is a durable feeding tube made from UV-stabilized polycarbonate that won't turn yellow with age; The rotating port regulator adjusts seed flow for any type of seed, reducing waste. The Pole auger with lever extension arms goes in easy, stands up strong; Powder-coated, rust-resistant steel pole. Don’t worry about squirrels with this tidy bird feeder".
The premier Original Absolute Squirrel Resistant single-sided feeder is for the serious bird enthusiast called the Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder Model 7533 This attractive feeder is created with a locking top and spring-activated perch which work together to keep squirrels away. This all-metal squirrel-resistant feeder has a counter balanced perch that is adjustable to three positions to allow light, medium or heavy birds on the perch. It is through these positions this incredible design recognizes the wrong bird or squirrel immediately closes access to seed.
It Holds up to 15 lbs of bird mixed seed, sunflower seeds, peanut halves or safflower. The feeder has an extra large capacity which requires less frequent filling. The next creative touch on this feeder is the food saver baffle. It stops birds from shoveling food out with the no waste seed saver baffle.
The Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder Model 7533 is Durable, chew-resistant green powder coated steel body with a zinc-plated steel hanger and black powder coated pole. Simply unlatch the squirrel resistant roof and lift for easy filling and cleaning. The seed level indicator window show when feeder is empty. The overhanging roof and hopper keeps the seed dry and protected from the elements and the all- steel body ensures it will withstand all types of weather and unwanted critters in your backyard for many seasons.
The best feature on this birdfeeder design is the top locks down securely preventing squirrel access. When a squirrel steps onto the perch, a metal shield immediately covers the seed tray, shutting off the seed supply. Bird feeder is fully assembled, includes a steel hanging rod for hanging, and a 5 foot sectional pole kit with metal mounting bracket and ground socket for optional pole mounting.
Squirrel Stopper SQC05 Black Squirrel Stopper Pole and Baffle Set is an eye-pleasing bird feeder support system capable of stopping all squirrels! In fact, this is one of our favorite systems because you can hang more than one bird feeder and/or bird house. The inverted cone-shaped baffle on the pole is spring-loaded .It also moves both up and down and side to side. Squirrels cannot figure this puzzle out. The system is made of 16 gauge steel, powder-coated with a durable black finish. The Pole and Baffle set stands about eight feet tall when assembled.
The pole assembly is two- inch diameter tubular steel, featuring four arms to support up to 4 different bird feeders or other hanging objects such as bird baths or flower baskets. The bottom section of the pole is equipped with a ground auger which makes installation easy and very stable. The complete system is very functional but also has an attractive, somewhat Victorian look.
There is other bird feeders available designed to combat a squirrel problem. However, these products are typically either feeders which stick on window glass or come without a baffle system. Audubon Bird's Delight Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder Model 7511i is an example of a squirrel proof bird feeder which does not incorporate the traditional type baffle into the feeder. This model is more rustic looking, with a small baffle to catch loose seed. The attractive bird feeder works well to discourage pesky squirrels. Audubon specializes in products which serves nature in a positive way. They are a superior choice in all bird products.
Add Your Own Deterrents
Perhaps you are staring out into the yard wondering how to do squirrel proof maneuvers around an existing bird feeder. This is absolutely possible. While some results will not be so eye-pleasing, the methods get the job done. If your squirrel population dominates your yard, it is our suggestion to conquer this with investing in a solid, great squirrel proof bird feeder and then modify any other issues with one of the following ways:
Fun with Baffles
You can build a homemade baffle system using the help of a horizontal wire to suspend the feeder and set it up with baffles that block squirrels from scampering from the wire to the feeder. This is actually a popular way to deter squirrels. It is a homemade baffle using plastic one liter bottles. Simply make holes in the bottom of the plastic bottles, large enough to get around the post of your bird feeder. Hang them lengthwise and secure a few inches below the feeder with…of course, duct tape. Hanging feeders can use the same method by sliding the bottles down the wire to place them above the bird feeder.
- Attach each end of the wire to any close and convenient structure like a post or tree.
- Use one-liter plastic soda bottles (make sure they are clean)
- Puncture a hole in the bottom of each bottle.
- Simply slide a few of them on to the wire on each side of the feeder.
Another a variation is to take plastic soda bottles and drill holes in the bottom and string them on a heavy galvanized steel wire, about 30 feet in length. Hang the bottle contraption above your feeders, adjusting the proximity and length in accordance to how many bird feeders and height. By hanging the bottle line above, squirrels will automatically roll off the slippery bottles.
The Power of Duct Tape
Should you feel inclined to carry on with the endless uses for duct tape try mounting a length of aluminum duct take under the feeder. The squirrels will travel up the post and into the duct tape, but no further. The uses of duct tape continue to amaze the world.
One frustrated handyman decided he would use plumbing pipe in a valiant attempt to fool squirrels from dining at his bird’s restaurant. He simply used the plumbing pipe as the post and mounted his lovely bird feeder on it. He didn’t stop there. He painted his posts in white and black to resemble a white birch tree. When the squirrels made the climb or jump, they simply slid down the pole.
Seed by Deception
Let it be known, squirrels will shun safflower seeds immediately. Something about this seed does not appeal to their unending appetite. You will however attract lovely little finches, chickadees, mourning doves, cardinals and nuthatches.
Going In for the Win
Some backyard birders, instead of eliminating squirrels, make friends with them by creating a platform squirrel feeding station away from the birdfeeders. Squirrels will stay within their own territory with tempting treats such as nuts, corn and berries. This also lets backyard nature enthusiasts enjoy the intelligence and antics of squirrels without watching their birdseed and their bird feeder waste away.
In the end, squirrels are just as much a part of backyard wildlife as birds. While it is possible to squirrel-proof a bird feeder to deter these visitors from frequent meals, any backyard bird feeder is going to get the attention of an occasional squirrel from time to time.
For those who actually love squirrels, have a good sense of humor and are entertained by these mischievous hyper creatures yet just want them away from their birds, we have one more product to suggest. This may be the one item to add to your backyard. Yes, it is a squirrel feeder.