How To Keep Squirrels Out Of Bird Feeders

Many of us have bird feeders in our backyards. We installed them with the best intentions to help feed any birds that are passing through but unfortunately, there are other forms of wildlife that also see bird feeders as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

If you have a bird feeder in your backyard, then you may have to deal with squirrels who think the food is there for them. Whether they found your bird feeder on the day you installed it or came along a few months later, squirrels can quickly eat all of the food and leave the birds without any food at all.

Keeping squirrels out of your bird feeders humanely and ethically can be very difficult. Thankfully, we have several tried and tested methods that will help keep squirrels out of bird feeders.

Let’s get started!

Elevate your bird feeder

Although squirrels are great climbers and skilled jumpers, the average wild squirrel found in the United States hasn’t yet mastered the ability to fly! This means that one of the easiest ways to keep squirrels out of your bird feeder is to hang the feeders high enough that squirrels can’t reach them.

You will have to keep in mind that squirrels can not only jump up but they can also jump across spaces as well. The average squirrel can jump around five feet up, seven feet across, and nine feet down.

If you can find an isolated spot in your backyard where the bird feeder won’t be close enough to other objects such as trees, buildings, or powerlines, then hang your bird feeder there!

However, you may find it difficult to find such a space. If so, then you will have to try one of our other tips.

Photo by waferboard

Use a squirrel-proof bird feeder pole

If you’re looking to install a bird feeder in a large open space then you will need to install a bird feeder pole to hold it. These poles are usually easy for a squirrel to climb but there are some poles that are designed for squirrels to struggle to climb. 

These poles have slippery surfaces and awkward bumps that squirrels can’t climb past. If a squirrel can’t climb the pole, then it can’t get to the bird feeder!

Install a squirrel baffle

This may sound like a strange name for an item but it’s also literal as the item works to confuse the squirrel and keep it away from the bird feeder. There are several different types of squirrel baffles but they all work in similar ways. They are unstable pieces of metal that you can attach to the bird feeder.

They have a slippery and wobbly surface and this confuses squirrels if they land on them. They shouldn’t harm a squirrel, just confuse them and encourage them to stay away. Squirrel baffles can also act as a shield to protect the feed from rain and bad weather as well, so they’re definitely worth investing in!

Some baffles wrap around the feeder whereas others are dome-shaped so you can experiment to see which one works best for you.

Photo by

Feed the squirrels

Some people don’t want squirrels in their yards at all, whereas others are happy to see them but don’t want them getting into their bird feeders. If you’re in the latter group, then you may find some success by offering squirrels their own food.

You can install a squirrel feeder on the ground and fill it with food that squirrels find more appealing than the food in the bird feeder. Squirrels love peanuts and are more likely to eat these from an easier-to-reach squirrel feeder than they are to eat a food they like less from an awkwardly positioned bird feeder.

Use a spinning hook

Squirrels do not like bird feeders that spin and find the spinning motion to be a major deterrent.

Some bird feeders are naturally designed to spin and this will keep squirrels away from the bird feeder.

If you already have a bird feeder, then you can purchase a spinning hook. This will add the spinning motion to your bird feeder.

Photo by Grimmcar

Use A Caged Bird Feeder

These are not fully squirrel-proof as some smaller squirrels may still be able to get at the bird feed, but they will be able to keep most squirrels out. 

With caged bird feeders, the openings of the cage are much smaller. They’re sized so that small birds can get in and out while squirrels are unable to fit.

Most squirrels won’t be able to get into the cage so you will greatly reduce, if not completely eliminate, the number of squirrels that can get to the bird feeder.

Make the feed spicy

This may sound like a strange idea at first glance, but it really does work! Birds and squirrels don’t just prefer different food but they also have different taste buds.

Birds aren’t able to taste spice in the same way that squirrels do so any bird feed that has been made spicy won’t affect them. Add a few drops of chili powder or dehydrated cayenne pepper to the seed and this will prevent squirrels from eating the food. The spice will be too much for squirrels but birds will not care.

However, be careful not to over-spice the feed as there are reports that the spice may affect the eyes of some birds. .

Don’t be heavy-handed with the spices and hopefully you will only need to do this once or twice before the squirrels get the message!

Photo by pixabay

Final Thoughts

In this article, we introduced several different methods for keeping squirrels out of bird feeders.

You may not be able to use all of these methods in your backyard as it depends on your bird feeder and setup, but you should be able to use at least one of them.

All of the methods are safe and humane and will keep squirrels out of your bird feeder without causing them any harm.


What happens when you stop feeding squirrels?

You should be really careful before deciding to feed any wild animal, including squirrels. If they become dependent on you as a food source and then, for whatever reason, you stop, they are in big trouble. It could be life threatening for them.

Do squirrels or birds recognize who feeds them?

There is anecdotal evidence that both squirrels and birds learn to recognize the humans that are regularly in their environment. This is especially true about humans that give them food.

Will squirrels hurt birds at feeders?

The presence of squirrels at bird feeders may scare birds away but the two are unlikely to intereact in any aggressive way.

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