Squirrels Stealing Your Birdseed? Stop Them With These 6 Tips
Few things are as frustrating as seeing squirrels climb all over your newly installed bird feeder. Not only do the long-tailed rodents consume your seed, but they also seem to scatter about twice as much of it as they consume, which just exacerbates the problem. Now, you’ll not only have to figure out how to scare off the squirrels, but you must also worry about attracting rats, who will eagerly eat the seed strewn across the ground.
Fortunately, there are several ways to help shoo away the squirrels and protect your seed from unauthorized diners. Try the following five techniques to keep your local birds well-fed and your feeders squirrel-free.
- Block the squirrels’ access with a baffle or similar barrier. By simply putting something in the way of the squirrels, you can usually prevent them from accessing your feeders. Commercially made baffles are typically very effective, but some have had success making and installing their own baffles from repurposed two-litre bottles or garbage can lids.
- Don’t use seeds that squirrels love. Unfortunately, black oil sunflower seed is one of the best all-around seeds for your local birds is also a favourite of squirrels. Instead, try to stock your feeders with safflower and thistle seed, which squirrels rarely find palatable. White proso millet seed is another option, as squirrels do not prefer it as a food source. However, white proso millet is typically only available in mixed-seed products.
- Lure the squirrels elsewhere. Place a preferred food for squirrels on the other side of your home or property to help divert their attention and draw them away from the feeders. Peanuts and corn ears are both relished by squirrels, as is black sunflower seed. While this strategy is unlikely to be effective with very serious squirrel infestations, it can be very helpful if your squirrel problems are relatively modest.
- Prevent the squirrels from getting a grip. You can use plastic-coated cables or slick metal poles to make it harder for squirrels from reach the feeder (depending on whether or not you are hanging it from above or supporting it from below). Large-diameter metal pipes are nearly impossible for squirrels to climb.
- Purchase a squirrel-proof feeder. If you’d rather not wage do-it-yourself war on the local squirrels, you can simply purchase a commercially made squirrel-proof feeder. Some of these products require visiting birds to pass through a small opening before reaching the food, while others rely on weight-sensitive perches to keep the food secure.
- Make the area less appealing to squirrels. Squirrels visit bird feeders in part because your yard provides a great habitat. Accordingly, you can help discourage their presence (and proliferation) by making your property a little less squirrel-friendly. Try to alter or remove the routes that they use to travel between their nests and the feeders, remove any trees that come into contact with your house (to help make it harder for them to live in your walls or attic) and consider removing any trees that the squirrels inhabit.