About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How do I keep squirrels off my bird feeders?

Here are four ways to keep squirrels off your bird feeder:
  1. Squirrel resistant feeders- The easiest way to feed the birds and not the squirrels is to have a squirrel resistant feeder. Now I know people come in to Wild Birds Unlimited all the time and say they don’t work, but ours do and most come with a lifetime guarantee! They are going to cost more than the cheap, “pretty” feeders the critters destroy every year, but they are easy to clean, easy to fill, backed by a lifetime guarantee, and the birds love them.

  2. Seed selection- If you don’t want to invest in a new feeder, the next solution is to switch your seed to straight safflower seed. Safflower is a small, white seed that is high in protein and fat. The shape of the shell and the bitter taste makes this seed unattractive to starlings, blackbirds, and squirrels. While popular backyard birds including Cardinals, Chickadees, Blue Jays, House Finches, Mourning Doves, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, and Nuthatches, savor safflower. Squirrels also avoid Nyger Thistle feeders which feed the Goldfinches.
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  3. Baffles- Squirrels can jump 4-5 feet high and across 5-10 feet. A baffle will make it harder for the squirrels to reach the seed. There are several types of baffles that you can use too. You can put a baffle around a pole to stop them from reaching your feeder. Or you can buy a baffle that goes over your feeder that protects it from squirrels dropping down from the trees.
  4. Hot pepper-I don't usually recommend this product. Mammals have receptors on their tongues that send messages (too hot!) when they eat hot peppers, but these receptors are missing in birds. “Squirrel Away™” is made from Capsicum peppers, known colloquially where they are grown as “bird peppers.” With “Squirrel Away™” treated bird seed in your bird feeders, a squirrel quickly learns not to visit and continues to find a new source of food. But you have to be careful because you are a mammal too and there is a caution on every bag about wearing gloves to protect yourself.

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