Feeding Birds by Keeping Squirrels Away

Outwit squirrels with these tips for keeping squirrels from eating bird seed

Squirrels! Squirrels! Squirrels! They are everywhere…on bird feeders, on wires, on the ground and in the birdbath.

Most are gray squirrels, but depending on where you live, some may be red squirrels or fox squirrels. All can be pests.

True, they are fascinating to watch, and obviously very intelligent as they outsmart the protective baffles and domes we place around bird feeders. But there is a limit to how much of this behavior we’re willing to tolerate.

After decades of studying and observing wildlife, I’ve come up with four methods that will stop most squirrels in their tracks.

Rule of 5-7-9: I have found that squirrels cannot jump more than 5 feet from the ground to reach a feeder on a post with a baffle. They cannot jump more than 7 feet from a tree or building to the side of a feeder. And they are reluctant to drop more than 9 feet onto a feeder from above.

So, if your feeder is 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet on each side from a launching place, and 9 feet below an overhang, 90% of squirrels will be unable to jump onto a baffled feeder. If you add 6 inches to those dimensions, you should prevent 100% of squirrels from reaching the feeder.

Soda Bottle Roller: Squirrels are regular circus performers when it comes to walking on high wires. Their amazing agility makes bird feeders hanging from wires easy pickings for any squirrel.

But, if you string plastic liter-size soda bottles onto the wire on both sides of the feeders, the squirrels will be rolled off the bottles as they approach the feeders. Make sure to keep the Rule of 5-7-9 in mind when placing the wire for the soda bottle setup.

Slinky On A Post: A “Slinky,” the children’s toy, makes a great post baffle. Thread the post through the Slinky and attach one end under the feeder and allow it to drape down the post. Shorten it if the Slinky touches the ground.

A squirrel that tries to climb the post will get a ride on the Slinky back to the ground every time. Again, remember to use the Rule of 5-7-9 when placing the feeder to prevent squirrels from bypassing the Slinky baffle.

Birds In A Cage: By enclosing bird feeders in wire mesh (hardware cloth) that is large enough to allow birds to enter the cage, but small enough to exclude squirrels, you have squirrel-proofed the feeder. This works especially well for feeders that only serve small birds, like tube feeders, and it keeps out large bully birds as well.

Use these four methods, alone or together, and you will have outsmarted the squirrels in your backyard. Then you can go back to watching the birds on the feeders, while the squirrels watch from the trees.

  1. ken tolle says

    I don’t have squirrels in my back yard but I do in our front yard… Good research in your information… I will probably use some of it… thanks…
    We have metal sheep hooks which hold two feeders each… I coated the metal rods with white grease… The rodents can’t climb the poles anymore…
    Thanks again… ken & Vicki

  2. says

    I use moth balls put a couple of moth balls to a nylon stocking hang it up on the top of bird feeder or on the birds house and the smell makes the squirrels run away!
    But the one Mr. Tolle say sounds much better going to try it! I am always ready to try new things. Thanks

  3. Birdy17Birdy17 says

    George….I wanted to thank you very much for using my photo for your squirrel article. I was very surprised to see it on the home page. Your article was very informative too. Thanks for sharing!! Kathy

  4. says

    I have tons of squirrels in my yard, (they annoy me.) They always used to stuff there faces at my bird feeder and the only time they would leave was when I chased them away or when there was no seed left. I used to try many things to keep them away from my feeder such as traps, chili pepper seed, and more but they never worked. Soon I realized that moving feeder in a open spot 3 meters away from anything they could jump from such as trees, roofs, and more with a baffle on the pole would prevent them. Now my feeder is squirrel proof. When I read this article it sounds like what I did to make my feeder squirrel-proof.

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