How to Keep Squirrels OFF of Feeders – Forever!
Squirrels…if they only knew that a whole industry has arisen devoted to keeping them off of bird feeders. A little cooperation would be appreciated, guys…
Over the past 33 years we here at The Audubon Shop have tried and tested many types of bird feeders and squirrel baffles, and have come up with some great models that will please both you and your birds, save you money, and thwart four-legged-seed-inhaling-plastic-gnawing furry friends.
Some people truly don’t mind squirrels at the feeder, but most of us regard their behavior towards bird feeders with much disdain. They can seemingly hog the feeders effectively preventing birds from visiting, they can drain feeders far more quickly than our feathered friends, and they have sharp teeth that can chew holes in our expensive feeders. Well, we’re not going to take that anymore, and you don’t have to, either!
Ever see “someone” run screaming out into the yard successfully entertaining neighbors in an effort to keep squirrels at bay? Squirrels laugh. We don’t mind squirrels on the ground, heck they are an integral member of our natural world. We do mind it when they chew their way into a feeder and render it kinda useless for the birds.
Welcome to the official Audubon Shop Guide to Deterring Squirrels!
Here’s the scoop on preventing squirrels from getting onto your magnificent feeders and depleting or chomping on them. Remember the 5-7-9 rule.
The mighty squirrel can jump…ever notice that? In order to make them physically less accessible, feeders must be placed 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet from a bush or fence and must be 9 feet from an overhanging limb. And, then there are baffles…
There are generally three ways to deter those pesky varmints.
- Set up a baffle either over or under your feeder/s
- Get a squirrel proof feeder
- Use safflower in your feeder
Set up the proper baffle over or under your feeder
Setting up a baffle is a great way to prevent squirrels from physically reaching your feeder. Here is what you need to know about baffles.
There are three main types of squirrel baffles: pole mounted, hanging, and cage.
a. The picture below shows an example of a pole mounted squirrel baffle that we have sold for years, and which works extremely well on our poles. (We use this baby at home, too.)
In order for the pole mounted baffle to do it’s job, the TOP of it must be at least 4.5 – 5′ off the ground. Why? Because squirrels have insane jumping abilities. They have no problem jumping 4 feet in the air, which they will readily do for a quick and easy meal at your feeder. Remember your 5-7-9 rule…
Most hardware store or garden center poles are not tall enough in order to hang a feeder and attach a pole mounted baffle that will be below the feeder. Our Erva® Adjustable Shephard Hook Poles, available as Single, Double and Quads, adjust from a minimum of 63″ to a maximum of 93″ (over 7′ high!) off the ground. This enables one to mount a baffle on the pole the required 4.5′ off the ground. Genius! These poles are made right here in the US, too.
b. Use an effective hanging baffle over your feeder, remembering your 5-7-9 rule.
Hanging baffles are meant primarily for hanging above a tube feeder. They prevent squirrels from climbing down your chain or hook and enjoying a free meal. Remember, though, the feeder must be at least 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet away from a tree trunk or bush, and 9 feet below a branch or tree.
We have two such baffles available, the Mandarin Hanging Baffle and the Extra Large Hanging Disc Baffle. Both of these, along with our poles mentioned above, are available for Curbside Pickup only, due to their dimensions.
Buy a squirrel-proof feeder (yes! They do exist)
Buy a feeder that has a cage around it, or that “closes” when a squirrel gets on it. Using a cage around your tube feeder works very well, but the tube must be at least 2″ inside the cage.
Some feeders, such as the Brome Squirrel Buster Classic feeder, come with built-in cages on the outside that are effective. You can also purchase a free-standing cage that you can install certain tube feeders in.
Caged feeders are genius. Yes, the squirrels can climb on them, but they soon loose interest when they find that the seed is inaccessible. Look at our simple Caged Sunflower or Peanut Feeder. It’s a workhorse of a feeder for tree-clinging birds, such as Chickadees, Nuthatches, Goldfinch, and woodpeckers. We had one hanging on a cedar tree outside the shop, for years. There are no moving parts, it’s an all-metal construction and is easy to fill.
You can also buy a cage for a feeder you already own. See our Giant Wire Cage, and read more about whether or not it would work for your existing feeders.
Use Safflower Seed in your non-squirrel proof feeders
Safflower seed is a wonderful “niche” seed. First made available to the bird feeding market as a seed that Cardinals love (they do), but also widely valued because it is not as attractive to black oil sunflower scarfing mammals and…Starlings and Grackles that like to flock to feeders. Try some! We use it in our hopper feeders at home, with great results. Just to be sure, we’ve placed a baffle on the pole of our hoppers.
Goodbye squirrels, hello peace.