Keeping Squirrels Off Your Feeders

An acrobatic squirrel reaches for a backyard feeder. Photo by Shutterstock.

People often go to extremes to keep their feeding stations squirrel-free. Some go to such expense and spend so much time inventing new repelling techniques that they fail to notice their yard beginning to look more like a workshop than a wildlife haven. Here are some squirrel-excluder devices.

The success of most anti-squirrel efforts depends in part on the physical layout of your property and the voracity of your squirrels. However, there are some particularly effective feeders and baffles that seem to work most of the time. A few of the best are described below.

Baffles That Work

I have yet to see a squirrel conquer one of our feeders, a housewarming gift that has repelled squirrels for many years now. This cylindrical post feeder has four ports with short metal perches. The top is a smooth metal cap that even the burliest squirrel cannot lift.

But squirrels never reach the top anyway, because we’ve placed the feeder well away from jumping surfaces—and because its support pole has a skirt of smooth metal sheeting that extends beneath the feeder, enclosing the pole. Every once in a while, a squirrel scoots up the pole and disappears under this baffle, with nothing to see but darkness. Our squirrels have to settle for ground food.

You can build your own stovepipe baffle using a section of galvanized aluminum stovepipe, and “L” brackets. The effective length from the bottom of the baffle to the feeder above is a foot or more. Find a materials list and a video on how to build a stovepipe baffle here.

Tip the Scales

Another scheme that seems to work well at keeping squirrels from the goods is the weight-sensitive feeder. These metal feeders have levers as perches. You can select weight settings that exclude heavier birds like jays and starlings, and also squirrels. Hefty invaders are shut off from feeding.

There is not much squirrels can do except seek out any spilled seed and wish they could gnaw through the metal. At the National Zoo, clever bird keepers feed cranes using such feeders. The long-legged birds stick their beaks directly into the feeders. Starlings, house sparrows, and squirrels try their luck, to no avail.

There are plenty of creative ways to baffle squirrels. Just remember to study your “enemy” carefully. Watch how far and high the squirrels jump, and plan accordingly.

Last Resort?

Got a squirrel that puts the Flying Wallendas to shame? Offer whole ears of feed corn, or whole kernels in a squirrel-friendly feeder far from your bird feeders. This is their favorite food, and it may succeed in luring them away from your feeders!