Are you frustrated by squirrels getting to your well-planned bird habitat? Everyone knows how difficult it can be to stop squirrels from gobbling up tasty seeds from a well-stocked, bird feeder. To avoid more extreme measures, try out a few of these ideas before you fill your first feeder.
Choose squirrel proof bird feeders.
There are many products on the market that are specifically designed to thwart these furry bandits that never give-up. Some squirrel proof bird feeders are weight-activated, some spin or flip and some have metal grids around the seed source that will send squirrels away in frustration. However, even if you don’t currently have one of these specific bird feeders, there are a few quick tricks to squirrel proof an existing garden bird habitat.
Pick a good location.
Since squirrels are quite acrobatic and can jump distances up to 10-feet or more, place feeders away from trees, low branches, porches, and fences. The optimum solution is to mount the bird feeder or birdhouse at least six feet off the ground and leave a 12-foot circle without shrubs or branches.
Add a squirrel baffle.
If you add a smooth-surfaced plastic or metal squirrel baffle above or below the bird feeder, it will prevent squirrels and larger birds, like pigeons and starlings, from accessing the seed supply. Squirrel baffles should be approximately 15-inches wide and set at an angle so these acrobats can’t get proper footing. Some squirrel baffles are even designed to tilt or spin to keep these predators away from your bird feed.
Add a wire cage.
Some bird feeders are already designed with a metal cage to protect the seed source. If not, place a wire cage or mesh with small openings around the bird feeder-small enough so that only birds can fit through and eat the seed.
Try a metal feeder.
If you need to replace a bird feeder, choose one that is constructed from metal or has metal feeding ports as these are less likely to be destroyed by chewing squirrels.
Does seed variety matter?
Even your choice of seed will have an impact. Although a hungry or ‘just bored’ squirrel will eat just about any seed, they are less likely to snack on Nyjer or safflower seeds. Just like most humans, squirrels are sensitive to spicy foods. To discourage them, add a sprinkling of ground, cayenne pepper to your birdseed mixture and watch them scurry away! Add red pepper on a consistent basis so it will remain fresh and potent. For your protection, use gloves when handling the pepper and avoid breathing in the pepper dust.
If you follow these tips and still see an occasional squirrel lurking around the feeder, don’t despair. Sometimes, it helps to give them their food supply such as fruits, nuts or corn in another part of the yard-far away from the bird feeders. In result, the birds can eat their seed without competition from the gluttonous behavior of squirrels and everyone can coexist!