If you’re a homeowner, then you know that dealing with pests is just a part of life. You have to keep your eyes open for bugs, termites, rodents, and other critters that can cause damage or simply be a nuisance.
One of the most common pest problems for homeowners is squirrels getting into bird feeders. If this happens to you, don’t worry – we’ll show you how to keep squirrels away from bird feeders so you can enjoy watching your feathered friends without worrying about pesky squirrels.
After all, we love bird feeders in the garden because of the diversity of flying wildlife they can attract. Watching a myriad of bird species enjoy the backyard and the feeders are mesmerizing. Unfortunately, however, bird feeders sometimes also attract squirrels.
If you have begun to notice more squirrels enjoying your feeders than birds, it’s probably time to take a stand. Keep reading to learn about our favorite ways to keep squirrels off bird feeders.
Why Are Squirrels Attracted to Backyard Bird Feeders?
Squirrels are opportunistic animals. They will take advantage of practically any opportunity to feed themselves, including your bird feeders. To deter squirrels while also caring for your feathered visitors, you need to get clever about things!
Birds are attracted to bird feeders because of their contents. Squirrels enjoy foraging for seeds and other food on the ground. Initially, it’s this foraging behavior that attracts squirrels to the areas around feeders as they look for fallen seeds and other edible debris.
With time, smart squirrels will move from the ground to the source and begin to wreak havoc on the stash of seeds located in the feeder.
5 Ways to Keep Squirrels Away from Bird Feeders
Besides using a squirrel proof bird feeder, there are numerous ways to deter squirrels from bird feeders. Below you will find our favorite five ways. Try them out and see how they work for you!
Use Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders and Poles
Squirrels and chipmunks have been raiding bird feeders for a long time. They’ve been doing it long enough for intelligent folks to design squirrel-proof bird feeder poles. So if you want to install bird feeders around your yard, one of the simplest things you can do is spend your money on one of these newer, squirrel-proof designs.
Install a Squirrel Baffle on Your Bird Feeder
On the other hand, if you have a feeder or bird feeder pole that is not technically squirrel-proof. That’s okay. You can still keep squirrels away.
The best thing to do will be to install a squirrel baffle. Baffles are objects that wrap around the pole or post of your bird feeder and prevent squirrels from climbing. There are plenty of squirrel baffles that you can buy from your local garden center or hardware store, but you can also design one yourself.
Spray and Sprinkle Squirrel Repellent
You can incorporate these foods into a water-based solution to repel squirrels. Hot peppers, scented dish soap, garlic, and vinegar are effective. Spray your solution liberally, and remember to reapply after rainfall or watering.
Some store-bought repellants come in a granular form. You can sprinkle these repellents in the areas you want squirrels to avoid.
Select Feed that Only Birds Enjoy
Squirrels love peanuts, sunflower seeds, and corn. Believe it or not, squirrels don’t eat everything. So when you are getting ready to reload your bird feeders for the season, make sure only to include bird seed varieties that will attract birds and not squirrels.
For example, squirrels dislike safflower seeds, nyjer seeds, and white millet.
In combination with this tactic, if you enjoy having squirrels around, you can always feed them separately in a different area, and with feed that you know, they cannot resist.
Position Your Bird Feeders Strategically
Where you position your bird feeders can play an essential role in whether or not squirrels can access them. To help you consider where to place your feeders to stop squirrels from eating bird food, remember the 5-7-9 rule of thumb.
- Squirrels usually cannot jump five feet off the ground.
- Squirrels will not jump more than seven feet across.
- They will not jump down nine feet from above.
If you can find a spot in your yard that satisfies these criteria, you ought to have fewer problems with pesky rodents helping themselves to your bird feeders.
Put the feeder on a pole, ideally away from trees, and this should be highly effective. You should also put the feeder more than five feet vertically off the ground and seven to nine feet horizontally away from trees.
Keep the Bird Feeder Cleaner
Let’s talk about keeping your bird feeder clean. This may not seem like an obvious solution, but it actually goes a long way in deterring squirrels and other pests. Make sure to regularly empty and clean your bird feeder. This not only keeps the food fresh for your feathered friends, but it also removes any enticing scents that might attract squirrels.
Try Safflower Seed
Next tip, try using safflower seed in your bird feeder. This type of seed is known for attracting small birds like finches and chickadees, while squirrels tend to turn their noses up at it. Plus, it’s a great source of nutrition for birds!
Does Irish Spring Soap Keep Squirrels Away?
There are some fragrances that squirrels do not enjoy. Gardeners have found out that Irish Spring soap is one of those fragrances.
You can utilize soap wrapped in old socks, pantyhose, or rags to protect bird feeders from squirrels effectively.
Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away from Bird Feeders?
Some folks believe that spent coffee grounds’ bitter taste and aroma repel pests like squirrels. We have found some success utilizing this tactic, but it may not work every time.
So instead of throwing out your used grounds, layer them like mulch around the base of your bird feeder poles or posts. The aroma from the beans may create an odor barrier that keeps squirrels from climbing.
At the very least, you will at least be adding nutritional organic matter to your soil.
Will Vaseline Keep Squirrels off Bird Feeder?
Some folks believe that vaseline is an effective lubricant that deters squirrels from climbing up bird feeders to raid the goods. This may be true. However, we do not recommend this tactic.
Wildlife experts argue that vaseline and other lubricants harm squirrels and other wildlife. The lubricants can be harmful if ingested. Plus, the lubricant may compromise the effectiveness of the bird’s feathers and wings.
Will Cayenne Pepper Keep Squirrels Away from Bird Feeders?
Yes, spicy peppers, such as cayenne, are an effective squirrel repellent when utilized in bird feeders.
The reaction you get from eating spicy peppers is due to capsaicin’s chemical compound. The capsaicin found in peppers triggers taste receptors that create a spicy flavor. Capsaicin also stimulates pain receptors when consumed or touched.
For that reason, most animals, including squirrels, consider the response from capsaicin to be undesirable. However, interestingly enough, birds do not react in the same way. So the peppers bother the squirrels, but not the birds.
What is the Best Way to Repel Squirrels?
The best way to repel squirrels is to utilize multiple tactics at once. In other words, a multi-pronged approach to repelling birds is the best way to keep squirrels out of your yard.
For example, spraying and sprinkling repellent, investing in squirrel-proof feeders, and planting decoy predators around the yard typically function as a super effective combination. Besides that, a little patience goes a long way.
Experimenting with what works for you and your yard is ideal for discovering the best ways to repel squirrels.
*image by [email protected]/depositphotos