The Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders and 12 Tips That Work
Let's be honest: there's no such thing as completely squirrel-proof bird feeders. But you can cut down on squirrels' visits by trying these feeders and tips.
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Do squirrels at your bird feeders drive you nuts? You’re not alone. One of the most common questions we get here at Birds & Blooms is “How can I keep squirrels off my bird feeders?” So we’ve rounded up all the best tips we can find for squirrel resistant feeders, and found six squirrel proof bird feeder options you should try. It’s unlikely you’ll ever get rid of these pesky critters entirely, but these suggestions should should help ensure that more of the seed in your feeders goes to the birds.
Do you have big problems with bully birds? Here’s how to get rid of grackles and blackbirds at feeders.
Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders to Try
We’re not making any promises, but these are some of the most popular squirrel proof bird feeders out there. Combine them with the tips below for your best chance of foiling sneaky squirrels at last. Psst—also discover natural ways to keep bees and wasps away from hummingbird feeders.
1. Yankee Flipper® Seed Feeder
The Yankee Flipper squirrel proof bird feeder uses a small motor to send squirrels on their way. It’s weight-activated, so when birds land on the perch, nothing happens and they’re able to enjoy a snack. When something heavier like a squirrel tries it out, though, the fun begins! Psst—want to attract more redbirds? Here’s the best cardinal bird feeders and birdseed.
2. Woodlink Absolute II Squirrel Resistant Feeder
Courtesy Kathy Booth
This squirrel resistant feeder also works on the weight principle. Lightweight birds can land on the spring-activated perches and feed, but a heavier squirrel will immediately cause the metal shield to close, cutting off access to the seed. It can be adjusted for weight to deter bully birds, too.
Field editor Kathy Booth tested this feeder for Birds & Blooms. “It holds quite a bit of seed and is easy to fill. It is also large and serves both sides which would accommodate a number of birds,” Kathy says. “I have not seen a squirrel on the feeder during the time it has been up.”
Kathy also noted that this feeder worked best for smaller birds, including black-capped chickadees, tufted titmouses, downy woodpeckers and sparrows. “The larger birds like blue jays and cardinals seemed to have difficulty staying on the perch. They almost needed to sit sidesaddle and went to a different feeder. They literally needed to tuck themselves horizontal to the feeder. This was consistent during the time I’ve used it,” she says.
Check out the 10 types of bird feeders you need in your backyard.
3. Droll Yankees Domed Cage Bird Feeder
This classic caged bird feeder style is popular for a reason—it works. The tube feeder inside the cage will hold a wide variety of seeds, and only smaller songbirds can make their way in to dine. Check out the best finch feeders to attract finches.
3. Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder
Caged feeders like this one work well for suet cakes, too. Smaller songbirds and woodpeckers slip right through, leaving squirrels, raccoons, and big bully birds behind. Check out the best suet feeders for winter birds.
4. Squirrel Buster Plus Bird Feeder
Squirrels make seeds and peanuts vanish in a flash, and European starlings and grackles are attracted to these foods, too. Block eager eaters with the Squirrel Buster Plus bird feeder design. One of our editors tried this feeder—read the review!
6. Sky Cafe Bird Feeder
The Sky Cafe feeder features a baffle that does double duty. Squirrels can’t reach around it to steal seeds, and birds are protected from rain and snow while they perch under the baffle.
12 Tips for Success With a Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Most backyard birders are familiar with this scenario. You select the perfect bird feeder, fill it with an ideal blend of seeds and hang it with care. When you come back later, instead of seeing your favorite birds stopping for a snack, you spot squirrels stealing from your feeders! It’s enough to drive anyone nutty. But before you blow a gasket, here are some humane solutions to combat your squirrel problem.
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1. Foil Super Squirrels
These bushy-tailed creatures can fall 100 feet without serious injury and are faster than you might think—at top speed, they can run 20 mph.
Many gray squirrels are able to jump 8 feet high from a stationary, sitting position! Move feeders 10 feet from the nearest jumping off point. Place your feeder station with these numbers in mind to deter a large majority of squirrels. If you add 6 inches to those dimensions, you should prevent 100% of squirrels from reaching the feeder.
Psst—we found the best bird feeder poles.
2. Baffle the Squirrels
Squirrels are amazing climbers, even on metal poles. Add a squirrel baffle to your feeders or poles to prevent them from climbing up from below—or purchase a battery-operated feeder to spin the pesky critters off.
Check out the top-rated bird feeder squirrel baffles.
3. Put a Slinky on the Bird Feeder Pole to Stop Squirrels
If you’d like to have a little more fun with your squirrels, try a turning a toy Slinky into a baffle. Thread the post through the Slinky and attach one end under the feeder, allowing it to drape down the post. Shorten it if the Slinky touches the ground. Squirrels that try to climb it get a ride back to the ground every time!
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.
We found funny squirrel pictures you need to see.
4. String Soda Bottles on a Wire
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.
Suspend your feeders on a wire strung from one pole to another, at least 5 feet from the ground. To prevent squirrels from doing a tight-rope walking trick, string plastic liter-size soda bottles onto the wire on both sides of the feeders. The plastic bottles roll the squirrels right off as they approach.
5. Try Caged Bird Feeders
Invest in a caged squirrel-proof bird feeder. The design works especially well for feeders meant for small birds, like finches or chickadees, and it does a good job of keeping out the bully birds, too. In areas where squirrels are especially small, like the Deep South, these types of squirrel-proof bird feeders may be less effective.
Generally speaking, by enclosing bird feeders in wire mesh that is large enough to allow birds to enter the cage, but small enough to exclude squirrels, you have effectively squirrel-proofed the feeder.
6. Switch Up Your Seed
Consider adjusting your birdseed blend by incorporating food that squirrels tend to dislike, such as white millet, thistle and safflower seeds. Birds like cardinals and titmice enjoy safflower seed, and finches like thistle seed, so replacing the seed in one or more of your feeders may help.
Also plant some native, natural food sources for your birds—sunflowers, fruit-producing plants and nut-bearing trees.
7. Pick the Proper Pole
Wood and metal poles are very easy for squirrels to climb, but it’s been noted that PVC or copper piping are more of a challenge. Try building your own pole or feeder station using these materials. Avoid greasing feeder poles, because it is harmful to birds and other wildlife.
You can also hang them with thin metal cable or extra-strength fishing line.
8. Keep the Ground Clean Under Feeders
Avoid allowing the seeds that are leftover to build up on the ground. Squirrels love to forage for seeds, and the debris from your feeders may be attracting them. Once they’re in the area, they’re sure to try to invade the feeders as well. Keep the areas underneath your feeders clean (this is also a good way to deter other unwanted pests like rats or raccoons). Attach a large tray on the pole beneath the feeders to catch the falling seed. Try the Brome Buster seed catcher. As a bonus, you may attract more ground feeding birds like mourning doves and juncos.
9. Add Chili Peppers to Bird Seed
Squirrels and birds taste things differently. For instance, birds don’t taste the heat of peppers, but squirrels sure do. Some people swear by thoroughly mixing a small amount of capsaicin, a component found in chili peppers, to your seed. It leaves a bad taste in a squirrel’s mouth, but birds don’t mind it. Try a tablespoon or so of cayenne pepper in a 10-pound bag of seed. You can also buy suet cakes with hot pepper mixed in. However, there are those who argue the pepper can be irritating to birds’ eyes, so use this method with caution.
10. Hang Irish Spring Soap Nearby
11. Spin Squirrels Around
12. Manage Your Mindset and Feed the Enemy
Many of us are quick to anger at the sight of squirrels scaring away birds, but it’s helpful to see things from a different angle. “Framing it as a conflict or war is just going to escalate rather than address the problem,” says John Griffin, director of urban wildlife at the Humane Society of the United States. Instead, consider how their food caches help birds and plants. “Squirrels have an important role in our ecosystem and do a lot of things for us, like plant trees,” John notes.
Transplanting the squirrels with a safe-release trap is usually fatal for these furry creatures and won’t prevent their friends from moving in. Instead, address their behaviors head-on in your yard.
Next, learn how to identify 5 types of squirrels.