Detering Squirrels With Some Simple Tricks And Clever Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Feeding garden birds is a rewarding pastime because it gives us a chance to learn about nature in our backyards and help some struggling species during the long winters.
The only problem with this hobby is that these food supplies can tempt other, furrier diners like squirrels. I have recently installed some squirrel proof bird feeders to give the birds some extra help and would like to offer these tips on the importance of doing so and the types of feeders you can buy in order to help others that are getting frustrated with their own local squirrel population.
Why is it so important to use squirrel proof bird feeders?
The main reason for investing in some efficient squirrel-proofing will depend on you own personal circumstances and view of squirrels.
Some of us will love squirrels and simply fear for the safety and well-being of the birds we originally installed the feeders for; some of us will passionately hate squirrels and see them as destructive vermin that can chew threw wiring, ruin plants and cause havoc in sheds and garages.
While I understand the latter standpoint, I am in the first camp.
I simply feel bad when I see squirrels hoarding all the food that is meant for the hungry birds and damaging the feeders and I also appreciate that there is the risk of them taking nestlings and eggs.
Trying different techniques and examining the different types of squirrel proof bird feeders.
The first thing I tried to do, before going out and spending too much money, was to try some of the little tricks that are said to deter squirrels from feeders in a simple, cost-effective and humane way.
- First I moved the pole with the feeder on to the recommended distance of 10 feet from my trees.
- Then I swapped some of the seeds for niger (sometimes spelt nyger) seed.
- Then I made sure to clean up the area each day to stop the squirrels being attracted by the loose treats on the ground.
- Finally, I tried adding a little cayenne pepper to the seeds. The pepper does nothing to the birds but it will irritate mammals and they seem to dislike the niger seed.
The problem with this approach was that I felt that the seed substitution was unfair on the birds and, deep down, I did not want to drive away the squirrels completely because I was still fond of them.
In the end I decided that I wanted the best of both worlds – happy birds and happy squirrels in my garden – so I invested in squirrel-proofing for the birds’ feeders and separate feeding areas for the squirrels. Fortunately, they are no bother to feeding hummingbirds, but are a real threat to seed based bird food.
There are plenty of squirrel proof bird feeders on the market that offer different deterrents – from simple caged feeders that the animals cannot get their paws into to more complicated structures with collapsing platforms, motorised spinners and even mild shocks.
I chose the simple caged approach with additional baffles at the bottom to stop the squirrels climbing up the pole. The concept with these feeders is that after a few failed attempts the squirrels will give up and move on to an easier food source, such as my easy-to-climb table with its tasty squirrel-friendly treats.
Placement Of Bird Feeders
Consider the following facts before choosing a location for a feeding station:
- Squirrels have the ability to leap about 10 feet from point to point.
It pays to check the distance from possible “launching points” to prevent the pesky critters from that big leap on to the feeder.
- They can jump vertically to five feet.
Place any bird feeder pole baffles at least 5 feet up the pole.
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Types
There are 3 major mechanisms used to prevent access to feeders by non bird species.
- Baffle Types
Hoods or shields are placed over the feeder or below the feeder if its supported by a pole. Typically, these baffles are constructed of non grip material, so even though the animal will land on them, they will slide off. Pole baffles prevent any access for those climbing up the pole.
- Barrier Types
These can include cages around the food source with a mesh size too small for a squirrel, but no problems for a bird to access the seed. Some will also include heavy duty construction so vermin cannot chew their way through. Many include a perch weight mechanism which closes off access to the food if something heavier than a bird land on it.
- Weight and Balance Mechanisms
These bird feeders get their squirrel proofing by reling on the weight of the animal to shut a lid over the sedd, or to pivot the whole feeder, so there is nothing to grip.
Squirrels are such persistent animals an in a lot of ways, clever too, but with a little planning, forethought and in some case some innovative engineering, your bird feeders can be made squirrel proof.