- Tip #1: Location is Important!
- Tip #2: Invest in a Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder Pole System
- Tip #3: Purchase a Squirrel Baffle
- Tip #4: Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
- Tip #5: Choose Bird Seeds That Squirrels Won’t Like
- Tip #6: Keep Them Away With Hot Peppers
- Tip #7: Use Repellents
- Tip #8: Use Wires
- Tip #9: A Slinky Might Come In Handy
- Tip #10: Keep Your Yard Tidy
- Tip #11: DIY Your Own Bird Feeder Pole
- Tip #12: Try Using Mulch
- Tip #13: Install A Fence
- Tip #14: Keep Them Out Of Your Home
- Tip #15: Consider Live Trapping
- Tip #16: Get a Separate Squirrel Feeder
- Tip #17: Let Them Have Some Fun
- Things You Shouldn’t Do
- What attracts squirrels in the first place?
- Can squirrels eat bird seeds?
- Do squirrels like all bird seeds?
- Is it ok to put cayenne pepper in birdseed?
- What is the best squirrel repellent?
- How far can squirrels jump?
- Will noise scare squirrels away?
- What’s the best squirrel-proof bird feeder?
- What decoys can you use to deter squirrels?
- Why do squirrels hate mint?
- Is feeding squirrels okay?
- What shouldn’t you feed squirrels?
- Why shouldn’t you put anything on a bird feeder pole?
- Why can’t squirrels climb on PVC or copper pipes?
- Final Thoughts On Keeping Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders
Complete Guide On How To Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders In Your Back Yard!
Squirrels are lovely creatures, and I do love watching them crawling on the ground and doing their own thing. However, once those squirrels start climbing up trees and into my bird feeders, that’s when they become a nuisance.
Fortunately, there are several things I can do to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders. And you can do them, too! This includes:
- Investing in a squirrel-proof bird feeder
- Installing a squirrel baffle
- Using bird seeds squirrels don’t like
- Hot peppers
And a whole lot more!
In this article, I will share with you 17 proven methods to keep squirrels away from the bird feeders. But the best part is, all these methods are squirrel-friendly.
Yes, they can be a nuisance, but they are doing what they are supposed to do – survive. So, it’s never a good idea to do anything that will harm them. That’s why in this article, I’m also going to share:
- Things you shouldn’t do
Now, if you’re ready to know how you can keep squirrels away from your bird feeders, read on…
Tip #1: Location is Important!
One simple way you can keep squirrels away from your bird feeder is by placing them in the right locations. This means that it shouldn’t be near any structures like trees or walls where squirrels can climb and jump, or it shouldn’t be too low on the ground.
To successfully determine where to place your bird feeder, it’s highly recommended to use the 5-7-9 rule.
What does this mean?
You see, although squirrels are high jumpers or flyers, there are limits to how far they can jump. It is said that squirrels can’t jump more than 5 feet from the ground, more than 7 feet from across any platform (a tree or wall), and would hesitate to jump down more than 9 feet going to the feeder.
By taking note of these measurements, you’ll be able to place your bird feeder pole in the most suitable location.
Make sure to measure that the bird feeder is more than 5 feet off the ground, more than 7 feet away from the nearest tree or building, and 9 feet below an overhang that squirrels can use to jump over.
Following these measurements will surely prevent at least 90% of squirrels from getting to your feeders. And if you need greater success, additional squirrel-proofing may be required.
Tip #2: Invest in a Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder Pole System
One way squirrels get access to your bird feeders is when they climb up the bird feeder poles. So, if you’re going to use a squirrel-proof bird feeder pole, squirrels will find it hard to climb up.
But what is a squirrel-proof bird feeder pole system?
It’s actually similar to any regular bird feeder pole; however, it comes with a baffle. This baffle serves as a barrier between the bird feeder and the squirrel. It stops squirrels on their tracks and forces them to just stay on the ground and be satisfied with bird seeds falling.
You can buy different types of bird-feeder pole systems, and they would usually differ on the shape of the baffle. There are bird feeder poles with cone-shaped baffles, and there are also tubular-shaped ones.
Regardless of what you choose, both are effective.
And if you’re also having problems with flying squirrels (squirrels that climb trees and jump to the bird feeders), there are also bird feeder pole systems where the baffle is located on the top.
Other than the type of baffle and the positioning of the baffle, you should also consider:
- Durability: It’s always best to look for bird feeder poles that will last for years. So consider what kind of materials is used for the pole. Try to think about its rust resistance, too. Considering that it will stay outside your home, it will be fighting against different weather conditions.
- Aesthetics: Functionality is greater than design. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep this in mind. You also want your yard to look nice, and finding a bird feeder pole that matches your yard’s aesthetics is not a bad idea.
- Ease of Assembly: It’s also important that bird feeder poles are easy to assemble. You don’t really want to spend your whole day just assembling one. The fewer its parts and joints are, the better choice it will be for you.
- How many bird feeders can fit: Think about how many bird feeders you want to hang around your yard. The more the pole can carry, the more you might be able to save money. On top of that, you can worry less because one squirrel-proof bird feeder pole can already protect several bird feeders.
Yes. It’s almost the same as if you’re buying a regular bird feeder. Even if you’re only interested in the squirrel-proof capabilities, it’s still crucial that you consider other factors to ensure you’re not wasting your money.
Tip #3: Purchase a Squirrel Baffle
If you already bought your bird feeder pole and it’s not squirrel-proof, that’s okay—no need to throw that away or purchase a whole new pole again.
Instead, you can simply buy a squirrel baffle.
As already mentioned above, squirrel baffles serve as your bird feeder’s protective shield from other animals who attempt to raid your bird feeder, including squirrels. But other than that, these baffles also ensure that bird seeds stay in place even through harsh conditions.
Generally, there are three types of squirrel baffles you can choose from:
- Wrap-around Baffle
- Torpedo Baffle
- Dome Baffle
So, you should choose one depending on what you need.
Let’s take a look at how these three baffle types are different from each other…
Wrap-Around Squirrel Baffles
Wrap-around baffles are cone-shaped baffles with a hole in the center and a little space on the side. This space allows you to place the baffle on the pole, creating a division between the bird feeder and the squirrel on the ground.
However, wrap-around baffles can be very unstable, and you’ll notice how they may fall from their position over time. You need to keep a close eye on it because squirrels may jump over it and use it as a platform to reach the bird feeder once it’s too low.
Torpedo Squirrel Baffles
Torpedo baffles are bullet-shaped baffles that you also place between the bird feeder and the ground. These baffles are open at one end and close at the other end. Hence, even if the squirrels go inside it, they’ll end up bumping their heads on the dead-end and will have no voice but to climb back down.
Dome Squirrel Baffles
Dome baffles, as the name implies, look like an upside-down bowl. The best part about these baffles is that you can install them above your bird feeders to stop flying squirrels and below your bird feeders to stop ground squirrels.
It’s a dual-purpose baffle!
Because of its spherical shape, dome baffles placed above bird feeders will make squirrels slide down immediately. And when it’s placed below the bird feeders, it stops squirrels on their tracks.
On top of preventing squirrels from getting to your bird feeders, dome baffles also help keep bird seeds or bird feeders intact even through harsh weather conditions.
How To Choose The Right Squirrel Baffle
Once you’ve chosen the right squirrel baffle design you want, there are other things you need to consider, too.
First of all, think about the material. It should be durable and must be able to resist animal chewing. If you prefer metal, you should go with a rust-proof metal so even if it rains, it will remain ok.
Second, think about the size. Your baffle must be big enough to cover your bird feeder.
Third, think about whether you want to hang the baffle or mount it on a pole. For hanging baffles, the choice you likely have is the dome-shaped baffle. If you want to mount in on a pole, you can go for the dome-shaped, wrap-around, or torpedo-shaped.
Lastly, think about your budget and buy a squirrel baffle that will get you your money’s worth.
Can You DIY a Squirrel Baffle?
If you want to save money, you can create your own squirrel baffle.
From using a stainless steel mixing bowl to a regular plastic bowl, a plastic plate, soda bottles, a DIY furnace pipe, and so on, you can create your own squirrel baffle.
Here are three ideas you can get started with:
1. Stove Pipe Squirrel Baffle
For this squirrel baffle, you’ll need:
- 6 x 24 inches stove pipe
- 6 inches in diameter stove pipe end cap
- ½ inches long sheet metal screws
- Hose clamp
Gather the tools you need, too, including a screwdriver, a drill, large and small drill bits, and pliers.
To start, hold the stove pipe end cap using pliers and begin drilling a hole at the center using the drill bit. After that, grab the stovepipe and fit that inside the end cap.
Once done, drill some pilot holes on the sides, ensuring that the holes are going through both the end cap and stovepipe. Secure the two together using the sheet metal screws.
Now you have your baffle!
To set it up, you first need to ensure that the baffle up the ground by 5 feet or more. So grab a measurement tool, and get that measurement. Mark your pole and attach a hose clamp; this is what will hold your baffle in place.
After that, all you need to do now is slip your baffle to the pole and let it rest at the hose clamp. And you’re done!
2. Stainless Steel Bowl Squirrel Baffle
If you think pipes are a lot of work, you can use a stainless steel mixing bowl as a baffle instead. All you need is a large mixing bowl and a cutting blade or drill.
Whether you have a cylindrical or square pole, cut or drill a hole in the center of the bowl. Make sure that it fits well on the pole, so it doesn’t slide down easily.
If your bowl has a lip, make sure to cut that out so squirrels won’t be able to grab into it.
To place the bowl in the pole, you can use again a hose clamp to hold the baffle. However, this will only work for metal poles.
You might want to use an L-bracket for wooden poles to ensure that the bowl won’t slide down from its place.
3. Plastic Bowl Hanging Squirrel Baffle
This squirrel baffle will only cost you 1 dollar. That’s amazing, right?
On top of that, it’s also very easy to make.
Just grab your plastic bowl and cut a hole in the center. After that, attach a wire rope to it so that squirrels won’t be able to chew it out. After that, let it dangle on top of your bird feeder.
When assembled, this squirrel baffle will look unbalanced, and this is not a problem at all. In fact, this helps in ensuring that the squirrels immediately slide down when they jump onto the baffle.
Installing a Squirrel Baffle
Aside from choosing the right squirrel baffle to use, the way you position the squirrel baffle in the pole is important, too.
Never place the squirrel baffles too low or near the ground because squirrels can jump high. If you put the baffles too low, it will not be very effective in stopping squirrels and might actually become the reason why squirrels would reach your bird feeder.
Tip #4: Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
If you don’t want to go with a one-time purchase and don’t want to buy a lot of bird feeder accessories to protect it from squirrels, then investing in a squirrel-proof or squirrel-resistant bird feeder will be the best option for you.
This is also a really great addition on top of the baffles because in case squirrels do reach the bird feeder, they won’t be able to access it.
There are generally three types of squirrel-proof feeders you can buy in the market, each with different designs and functions:
Weight-Sensitive Bird Feeders
As the name implies, these bird feeders use weight to determine if it’s a squirrel or a bird with access to the bird feeder.
Because squirrels generally weigh more than birds, this design is very effective in ensuring that only birds will have access to the bird seeds.
It works by having a platform, which automatically closes the opening to the bird seeds, preventing anything heavier than birds from getting access to them.
Another way it protects bird seeds is by using the idea of a seesaw. As we know, seesaws would fall in the heavier area. Therefore, once the squirrel gets to the platform, he’ll be brought back to fall to the ground.
Check out some of the best weight-triggered squirrel resistant bird feeders here:
- Droll Yankees Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
- Brome Squirrel Buster Bird Feeder
- Squirrel Solution200 Bird Feeder
- Woodlink Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder
Caged Bird Feeders
Another squirrel-proof bird feeder you can check out is the caged bird feeders.
As the name implies, your bird feeder is surrounded by an enclosure, usually metal, to protect it from animals bigger than birds. This means that these cages’ openings are big enough for birds to enter and small enough to prevent squirrels from entering.
This also works if you want to prevent larger and bully birds from entering the bird feeders.
This is a great cage styled squirrel resistant bird feeder that we have in our backyard, great for smaller birds:
Spinner Bird Feeders
Lastly, you can try buying spinner bird feeders.
Generally, it can also be considered a weight-sensitive bird feeder because it works only when an animal that is heavier than a bird sets foot.
So, once a squirrel jumps into a spinner bird feeder, it will automatically spin non-stop until it tosses the squirrel off.
It’s up to you to decide if you find this cruel or entertaining, but most people find it fun to watch squirrels spin around. And as far as I know, no squirrels were hurt from being tossed off this bird feeder. Because even if you place this feeder low on the ground, it’s guaranteed protected.
Check out this awesome spinner styled squirrel resistant bird feeder:
DIY Your Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
Now, if you don’t want to buy a squirrel-proof bird feeder, you can also create your own by using some materials found in your house.
A great example of this is building a squirrel-proof bird feeder out of salvaged copper pipes and glass.
The glass will serve as the cage’s body, while the copper pipes will serve as the opening so birds can enter the bird feeders. The openings should be small enough so squirrels won’t be able to get inside.
You can watch the video below an actual demo on how they make this bird feeder:
By building a squirrel-proof bird feeder yourself, you can add features that you would find very useful. Plus, you don’t even have to spend much because materials are generally found in your home.
Tip #5: Choose Bird Seeds That Squirrels Won’t Like
If you want to eliminate the possibility that squirrels will go near your bird feeder, then maybe you can change the menu instead.
You see, although squirrels are really curious animals and love climbing on bird feeders to eat, they are still very picky. So, instead of filling up your bird feeders with foods squirrels love, fill them up with seeds they don’t like.
Some seeds squirrels don’t like are:
- Nyjer Seeds: Small and thin black seeds that are also sometimes referred to as “thistle seed”. It’s a type of birdseed that finches and other small seed-eating birds love.
No squirrels have ever been found near bird feeders filled with nyjer seeds. It’s even said that even if you scatter nyjer seeds on the ground, squirrels won’t come to eat them.
This is very effective. However, you can’t fill up all your bird feeders with these seeds only, especially if you’re trying to attract more birds other than finches.
- Millet Seeds: A cereal grain that most ground-feeding birds such as juncos, doves, sparrows, and quail love. However, although squirrels are not particularly fond of these seeds, they may still attract cowbirds and other blackbirds that may compete with smaller birds for food.
- Safflower Seeds: Small seeds with thick shells, making it harder for most birds to crack them open. They’re a favorite of cardinals and also some grosbeaks, chickadees, native sparrows, and dove.
Squirrels are found not to like these seeds even if scattered on the ground. However, it’s highly recommended to check your area first because some squirrels may have taken a liking to it.
- Canary Seeds and Rapeseeds: Although squirrels don’t particularly like these seeds, birds are not crazy over them, too.
House sparrows and cowbirds are known to love canary seeds. Most birds, however, would prefer sunflower seeds. If you’re aiming to attract house sparrows without the disturbance of squirrels, then this can be a good seed choice, too.
For rapeseeds, quails, finches, juncos, and doves are a few birds known to eat them. However, do note that if there are other seeds around, they might opt for that instead.
When deciding which seeds to buy, don’t just buy because you know squirrels won’t like these seeds. You should also consider which birds you wish to attract.
For example, if you’re going to stick to nyjer seeds only, you might end up attracting a very limited number of birds.
What I suggest is to place these bird seeds in bird feeders that aren’t squirrel-proof. This way, even if it doesn’t have any squirrel prevention, there’s a good guarantee that squirrels won’t get to them.
As for your other seed or food choices, place them on squirrel-proof feeders.
Tip #6: Keep Them Away With Hot Peppers
There may be seeds that squirrels don’t like. However, do note that if a squirrel is hungry, he can eat anything. These include the seeds mentioned above.
If you want to be sure to keep them away from your bird seeds, maybe it’s time to prepare some spicy bird seeds.
Yes, you read that right!
I’m sure you have experienced eating hot pepper before. How did you feel? Hot, right?
Well, this very sensation is what squirrels would feel when they eat spicy seeds.
But what about the birds? Won’t they feel hot?
Well, that’s the good news! Because as it turns out, only mammals, like squirrels and us, are affected by this heat!
The compound capsaicin is responsible for this heat, and this compound is a known chemical irritant for mammals only. This means that if you spice up bird seeds, birds won’t feel a thing while squirrels would surely run away.
So, whatever bird seeds you use, you won’t have any problems with squirrels eating them.
How Do You Spice Up Your Bird Seeds?
It’s pretty easy.
All you need are:
- Bird seeds
- Cayenne pepper or any other spice
- Mixing bowl
Pour your desired bird seeds into the mixing bowl. You can choose if you want a mix of bird seeds or just individual bird seeds.
After that, sprinkle the cayenne pepper. The rule here is three tablespoons of cayenne pepper per 5 lbs of bird seeds. If you put less, it may not be as effective compared to when you follow the exact measurements. If you put more, you might end up hurting the squirrel more.
Once you’ve sprinkled the right amount of pepper, mix everything up and transfer the mixture to a large, closed container.
Before filling your bird feeders, shake the container first to ensure that the pepper is mixed well all over the bird seeds.
Can You Buy Spicy Bird Seeds?
Yes, you can, and there are lots of options in the market.
If you are concerned whether the mixture you’re making will be safe for squirrels or not, then it’s highly recommended to buy spicy bird seeds in the first place. On top of that, it gets rid of any work on your end.
Tip #7: Use Repellents
Aside from their sense of taste, you can also use the squirrel’s sense of smell and sense of sight to deter them away. This method can be very effective as it may not only stop squirrels from eating your bird seeds, they might really stop going to your backyard.
Here are some tricks you can use:
You can use some figurines or statues of any known predator of squirrels. One of the most popular choices would be an owl decoy.
This may not be the most aesthetically pleasing solution, but it can be very effective.
It’s known that squirrels tend to run away even from seeing an owl’s shadow. You can place an owl decoy in your roof or at the trees, and it’s best if they’re moving, so it’s more believable.
The best part about using decoys is that you’re able to scare away squirrels without actually hurting them.
Another decoy you can use is fake snakes.
Good news! If you’re fond of planting flowers, you can also beautify your yard while driving squirrels away.
Squirrels are found to hate flowers that are too bright or have a really strong scent. This includes:
Plant these flowers along with entry points of your yard, near trees, and walls where they can climb up, or even at the bottom of your bird feeding pole. And since these flowers are colorful, it might help you attract more birds, too.
You can also create your own natural repellents using some basic ingredients you’ll find at home. Here are some of the best-known squirrel repellents:
You can crush red pepper flakes and sprinkle them near the ground where bird feeders are located. You can also do the same with cayenne pepper.
Another option is to create a hot spray. Grab a hot sauce and mix that with water. Place the mixture on a spray bottle and spray that at the entrance of your backyard, at the bottom of bird feeder poles or trees, and other areas where bird feeders are located.
If you don’t have pepper, you can use garlic instead.
Simply mix garlic, water, and vinegar, let the mixture sit for days, transfer it to a spray bottle, and spray it around your backyard.
If you have apple cider vinegar at home, then you probably know how strong its scent is. Well, squirrels would have to agree because they absolutely hate the smell.
This natural repellent is best used for harder surfaces like fences, bird feeder poles, and the walls of your home. Never use it on trees, grasses, and other plants as it may kill them.
If you love essential oils, then know that your peppermint essential oil will make good natural repellents. Squirrels can’t handle the smell of any mints, and this includes any mint-based essential oils.
To use this method, simply soak some cotton balls in the oil and place them on jar lids. After that, place them around your yard, particularly in areas where squirrels are frequent.
Nothing can scare squirrels away more than the scent of their predators.
There are lots of commercial products sold in the market that mimics a predator’s smell. Use it on top of natural repellents and other squirrel-proofing ideas for better effectiveness.
Pet and Human Hair
Instead of letting go of your pets to chase squirrels, which can be very cruel, you can use their hair instead. If you’re grooming your pet, you can grab some of their hair and sprinkle it around your backyard.
Do the same with your hair.
Because squirrels see us or pets as threats, they will immediately run away once they smell a dog’s or human’s presence in the backyard.
Irish Spring Soaps
Another familiar scent that will immediately get squirrels running in another direction is Irish Spring Soaps. There’s actually no particular explanation why squirrels hate them, but it can even drive away rabbits and deers, too.
To use the Irish Spring Soap as a deterrent, you will need:
- small fabric drawstring pouches
- Wooden stakes
- Staple gun or duct tape
Grab a bar of Irish Spring soap and cut them into small cubes. Place these cubes inside the drawstring pouches and make sure to close the strings tightly.
Get your wooden stakes and staple or tape the drawstring pouches on one end of each. After that, drive the other end of the stake 6 inches deep on the ground. Place these on areas where squirrels hang out, often like in the entrance or the bottom of trees or bird poles.
If you want an easier way, you can grab a grater and shred the soap around your yard to keep squirrels away.
Tip #8: Use Wires
You can make use of thin wires to stop squirrels from reaching your bird feeders.
Simple. It’s by hanging bird feeders between two trees.
If you haven’t tried this yet, it’s quite easy. Plus, it makes it harder for squirrels to get to your feeders because they’d have to cross a wire first.
All you need are two trees, some wire rope, and other stainless steel hardware materials. I don’t recommend tying up anything to your tree. Instead, drill an eye screw into two trees; this is what will hold the wire rope cable.
Simply secure your wire cable on both ends, place some hooks for your bird feeders in the middle, hang your bird feeders in between the trees, and you’re set.
You can even watch me doing this in a video below:
Of course, you should never forget the 5-7-9 rule when doing this. Stay clear of any branches that squirrels might use to jump to get to the feeders.
It’s a very simple method, and the best part here is you get to hang more bird feeders by using lesser space.
And if you want to make this method more effective, you can add a soda bottle onto the wire. Place them on both sides of the bird feeders.
This way, even if the squirrels do find their balance and be able to cross the wire, the moment they step on that soda bottle, they’ll surely spin back to the ground.
A slinky might be commonly known as a toy, but it surely can come in handy when squirrel-proofing your bird feeders.
If you look at a slinky, the first thing you’ll notice is that it looks like a spring. And one does a spring do? A spring can stretch, but it will always get back to its original form.
So, how does this help with squirrel-proofing?
As we know, squirrels love trying to jump on poles to reach bird feeders.
This is why squirrel baffles are really handy when it comes to ensuring that squirrels won’t reach the bird feeders. However, when you don’t have a baffle, you can use a slinky instead.
Attach the slinky on your bird feeder, insert it through the bird pole, and let it hang.
Once a squirrel comes and attempts to climb up the pole, the slinky will make sure that they always go back down to the ground.
If you’re in doubt if this will work, just check out this video of a squirrel battling with a slinky just to reach a bird feeder:
Yep. Squirrels can try, but they’ll just keep coming down.
Unlike squirrel baffles, a slinky doesn’t provide a platform that squirrels can jump into to reach bird feeders.
The best part about this is that materials don’t cost much, and the assembly time wouldn’t even take you 15 minutes. On top of that, it’s an entertaining sight, and the squirrels are guaranteed unharmed.
Tip #10: Keep Your Yard Tidy
Another easy and no-cost way to keep squirrels away is by keeping your yard tidy.
Squirrels can get attracted to mess. And oftentimes, when birds eat, they make a lot of mess which gathers on the ground just right under the bird feeder. When unattended, squirrels will keep coming and continue to be a nuisance.
So, make sure that you clean up after the birds eat to make sure that the ground is clean most of the day. To make things easier, you can place a tray right below the bird feeder, so it’s easier for you to pick it up and throw the debris away.
This is very helpful in keeping squirrels away and making sure that ground-eating birds won’t be able to eat rotten seeds.
If you’re growing fruit trees or other seed-bearing trees, clean away any fallen fruits or seeds so squirrels can’t pick them up.
And if you have broken windows, holes in your walls, and other structural damages that need attention, repair them immediately. This way, the squirrels can’t use them as shelter.
By keeping your yard clean, you don’t only get rid of squirrels. You get to protect your yard and home from other pests and deadly animals like rodents and snakes.
Tip #11: DIY Your Own Bird Feeder Pole
Bird feeder poles are commonly made of metal and sometimes wood. And as we know, squirrels are already expert climbers of these two.
If you want to stop squirrels from climbing bird feeder poles, you might want to consider using PVC or copper pipes. This way, even without using a baffle or a slinky, squirrels won’t even attempt to climb up.
Take a look at the two ways of building a PVC or copper bird feeder pole:
Making a PVC Bird Feeder Pole
Let’s start with the basics on how to make a PVC Bird Feeder Pole. For this, you’ll need:
- 2” x 8’ fence post (pressure-treated)
- 2” x 10’ PVC pipe
- 1” x 4” x 2’ wood or plywood
- 1-½” wood screws
You’ll also need tools such as a saw, a drill, a screwdriver, and a hammer.
To start, grab your fence post and find a location for it around your yard. Remember the 5-7-9 rule – make sure to find a location that is more than 7 feet away from trees, bushes, and other structures that squirrels can climb on instead.
Once you’ve found a suitable place, secure the fence post and slide the PVC pipe over it. The fence post will serve as the PVC pipe’s support, so it doesn’t fall.
Grab the wood or plywood and create a small wood platform that you can slip inside the PVC pipe. This can serve as a platform for your bird feeder, so make sure not to make it too big that squirrels might be able to jump on it.
Attach your bird feeder with wood screws, and you’re done.
Building a Copper Bird Feeder Pole
Aside from a PVC pipe, you can also build a copper bird feeder pole.
It’s highly recommended to build a pole that is 8 feet tall. This way, you can hang feeders at 5 feet or 7 feet. Should you choose a lower length, that’s totally fine, too.
Start by grabbing a 2 feet pipe and driving that to the ground. Take note that this is not part of your overall length. Instead, this will only serve as your support. So, make sure that you bury this pipe at least 1.5 feet deep on the ground.
Once you have driven the pipe to the ground, solder a sleeve at the end of your copper pipe so you can attach the next copper pipe.
Before you start making the whole structure, make sure that you already have a plan. Think about the number of limbs you want to build on the pole, as this will hold your bird feeder.
For example, at 5 feet, you want to attach one limb. This is when you’ll attach a T-fitting so you can attach a pipe going on the side and another pipe going up.
I suggest that you also screw some hooks on the pipes for the bird feeders, so all you need to do is just assemble everything.
After you’ve assembled your pole, hang your bird feeders, and you’re done!
Is All This Work Worth It?
I know this sounds like a whole lot of work, and it is. But, whether it’s worth it or not will still depend on you.
Of course, you’ll have to spend a lot more time building your own bird feeder poles. But after that, you may not need to worry about squirrels climbing at all, given that you’ve actually positioned the poles well.
But if you don’t want to do the hard work, that’s completely fine, too.
After all, there are easier alternatives like using a squirrel baffle, a squirrel-proof bird feeder, or using bird seeds that squirrels hate.
Tip #12: Try Using Mulch
Mulch is any layer of material that you put on top of the soil surface. It’s usually used to conserve soil moisture, improve soil health, reduce weeds, and beautify your yard. And in this case, we can use a mulch to deter squirrels, too.
How do we do this?
Usually, mulch is organic. And a lot of people prefer that over inorganic mulch. However, the problem with organic mulch is that it can attract squirrels instead of driving them away.
Squirrels find these easy to dig up, which means it’s easy for them to make themselves at home.
With inorganic mulch, however, it’s harder and tougher to dig up, which means there’s a very little chance that squirrels would create a home in your backyard. This may help reduce their numbers in your yard, so it’s a lot easier to control.
And when there are lesser squirrels, the better you can protect your bird feeders.
Tip #13: Install A Fence
Another great tip is to stop squirrels from even entering your yard, and you can easily do that by installing a good fence. However, you can’t just install any fence. You also need to make sure that you’re going to use a squirrel-proof fence.
Try to think about what squirrels are capable of:
- They can dig
- They can climb
- They can chew
Because squirrels can climb and dig, you need to find a way to prevent them from doing so. One best solution is to get a mesh and to cover your fence with it. This will make it harder for squirrels to climb to it.
The mesh material will also help secure any gaps that squirrels may use to get through your fence. You should also bury a portion of the mesh deep underground to ensure that squirrels can’t get through even if they dig under.
Lastly, make sure that the material of your fence is strong and durable. Squirrels can be excellent chewers, so a high-quality and strong fence is definitely a must.
Some people would recommend installing an electric wire on top of your fence, but this can be too cruel.
So, if you think some squirrels might still be able to climb over, make sure that you have other squirrel-proof methods that will stop squirrels on track when they get to your yard.
Tip #14: Keep Them Out Of Your Home
If you think squirrels are visiting your yard very frequently, then there’s a great chance that they have made shelter somewhere in your home or yard.
Here are some things that indicate you might have squirrels at home:
- Noises around your home
- Damages like holes, chew marks, dug up yard, and more
- Squirrel droppings
- Squirrel footprints
- Water damage
- Squirrel fights
Now, why is this important, and what does this have to do with squirrels raiding your bird feeders?
It’s quite simple.
If you make sure that squirrels don’t have a shelter, they won’t be able to raid your bird feeders, too.
So, try to explore your home and check if there are areas where squirrels might be hiding. Once you find it, drive them out with some of the methods above, like using natural repellents. You can also call professionals for help.
Once you’re sure squirrels are gone, make some repairs so that they don’t come back.
This method is very effective as it reduces the number of squirrels you would have to worry about. It also makes it easier for you to do some squirrel-proofing when you don’t have to worry about more squirrels damaging your yard, too.
Tip #15: Consider Live Trapping
Before you argue and close this article, hear me out.
I’m not telling you to kill squirrels.
All I’m saying is, try to catch them alive and let them go to another location where you think they’ll have better access to food, in an area where they won’t be a nuisance.
For this method to work, live traps must be humane, durable, and effective. But before you even start doing this, try to dig up more information if it’s allowed in your area. This way, you won’t get into any trouble.
If you find that it’s allowed, you’ll only need two things: a trap and a bait.
You can buy a squirrel trap in a local store. These are usually cage-style traps with doors that automatically lock once squirrels get in.
I don’t recommend you doing DIY as things may go wrong, and you’ll end up hurting the squirrel.
As for the bait, you can try a couple of food that squirrels love:
- Sunflower seeds
- Corn on the cob
- Whole peanuts in a shell
And other food you know squirrels will like. It’s also recommended to use some peanut butter to act as an adhesive.
You don’t need to overthink this because any bait will actually do. The important thing here is how you actually set the trap.
Here are two things to keep in mind when trapping a squirrel:
- Place the squirrel trap in an area where you see squirrels often pass by. Then, set a bait inside the trap. Allow it to stick using peanut butter.
After you’ve set a bait inside, create a trail of sunflower seeds going out the entrance of the trap and scatter more seeds around. This will make the squirrels confident in entering the trap.
- Once the squirrel is caught, remember to wear gloves before picking up the trap with the squirrel inside.
Relocating the Squirrel
It’s important to relocate the squirrel to an area far from your backyard. This way, they won’t be able to find a way to return.
When To Call For Help
Squirrel-Trapping is actually not something you can do alone, especially if you’re not an expert.
So, it’s best if you call some Wildlife experts to set the traps and relocate the squirrels for you. Or, you can trap the squirrels yourself and then call some experts so they can handle the relocation.
This way, they can also make sure that no youngs will be separated from the mothers.
Tip #16: Get a Separate Squirrel Feeder
This tip may not be suggesting to keep squirrels away. But, hear me out.
Squirrels will be present in your area no matter how much you try to drive them away. Yes, and that includes even if you relocate them. Because you never know if your neighbors have squirrel problems, too.
So, why not, instead of trying so hard for them not to get access to bird food, provide them their own food?
This is a very effective method because it helps deter squirrels’ attention away from the bird seeds. At the same time, you’re helping squirrels play their role as seed dispensers effectively.
As seed dispensers, squirrels can plant more trees than we do. These tiny creatures tend to bury most seeds they pick up and would most of the time forget them, thus growing more and more trees for us to find.
They may be quite a nuisance, but they help us a lot. Plus, squirrel feeders always look unique, giving your yard a better overall look.
So, if you’re someone who wants to be entertained by both birds and squirrels, this method is for you.
How to Choose The Right Squirrel Feeder
1. Type of Squirrel Feeder
You can choose a squirrel feeder based on how you want to install it and its usage.
For types of squirrel feeders based on installation, there are three types you’ll find in the market:
- Hanging Feeder: As the name implies, these platforms are dangled up in the air like bird feeders. Sometimes, these feeders even come with chimes or bells that would alert you when a squirrel is present.
- Mounted Feeder: These feeders are usually found in tree trunks, on your windows, on poles, and other structures where you can mount them up. This type of feeder is also one of the most versatile and comes with several variations.
- Ground Feeder: These feeders are placed on the ground and one of the easiest to use and clean. It allows squirrels to have easy access to food.
Other than the kind of installation, squirrel feeders also differ in usage. You’ll also find three types in the market:
- Hopper Feeder: Similar to bird feeders, hopper feeders for squirrels come with a V-shape mechanism. This allows food to go downwards and into a platform as the squirrels eat. And since most hopper feeders are made with clear fiberglass, you’ll see clearly as food goes downward, making it easier to monitor when you need to refill the birds’ food.
- Tube Feeder: These feeders have the same function as hopper feeders. It’s shaped like a tube with a small seed hole at the very end. As the squirrel eats, seeds go downward, too, but it doesn’t go into a platform.
- Platform Feeder: As the name implies, these are flat feeders with short sides. It looks very simple and nice about these feeders because you can put any seed in them.
It’s always best to buy a feeder that you know would last for a long time. Squirrels may chew on their feeders, especially if they’re curious. That’s why feeders must be strong enough to handle that. Think about the weather conditions in your area, too.
The most common materials used to make a squirrel feeder are plastic, wood, and steel. Stainless steel squirrel feeders are undeniably the most durable because squirrels can’t chew them. Added to that, they’re easier to clean.
However, plastic and wood squirrel feeders are more common and have more styles and designs.
3. Design and Aesthetics
Generally, squirrel feeders come in two designs: closed like the hopper and tube feeders and open like the platform feeder.
To choose the best design, think about the kind of food you want to give. Enclosed feeders would be the most suitable for nuts, while the open-designed feeders are best for corn cobs.
If you’re also going for aesthetics, it’s best to note that open-designed feeders are the ones that come with various designs. You can have a table and chair option, swings, table, shelves, and a whole lot more.
This is actually what makes getting a squirrel feeder a really good idea.
The different designs and entertainment styles of these feeders make excellent additions to your backyard. It gives some sort of variation.
Of course, you need to think about how many squirrels visit your backyard every day. Because if you can entertain all of them, the lesser is the possibility that they’ll bother your bird feeders.
What To Feed Squirrels
Squirrels will eat almost anything. This includes fruits, vegetables, bark, grains, and a lot more. But if you’re looking for something to feed squirrels using a squirrel feeder, nuts and corn would be your best choice.
For nuts, you can give acorn, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, pine nuts, butternuts, hickory nuts, and beechnuts. You can also offer regular peanuts but make sure they’re unsalted and must only be in small amounts.
You can also offer seeds, but I highly recommend pumpkin and sunflower seeds only. They’re the safest seed option as it still provides squirrels the best nutrients, plus they’re easier to chew.
Where To Place Your Squirrel Feeder
Although choosing the suitable squirrel feeder is important, placement is crucial, too.
You must place squirrel feeders in an area where squirrels will easily find them. This way, it’s the first thing they’ll go to, instead of the bird feeders.
Look around your backyard and try to see where you have free space for squirrel feeders that are not too near the bird feeders.
Are there branches or tree trunks available? Can you set up a ground feeder? It’s up to you.
Once you’ve decided where to place your squirrel feeder, that’s when you’ll decide what type of squirrel feeder you’ll buy.
And if you want to make things easier, you can even build your own squirrel feeder. This way, you can get as creative as you can, and you get to match the aesthetics to your backyard.
Tip #17: Let Them Have Some Fun
And lastly, if you’ve finally decided to let the squirrels stay, let them have some fun!
Squirrels are acrobatic creatures, and you can certainly use this personality to install some fun squirrel feeders for them.
For example, you can buy a merry-go-round type of squirrel feeder where you can hang corn cobs on the hooks. This does not only keep squirrels busy as they focus on trying to get their food; you can also enjoy watching their acrobatic movements.
Another squirrel feeder you can try is a horse head.
It’s a very simple squirrel feeder, but it sure is fun to watch squirrels eating here. You can see this in action in the video below:
Other than these two, most squirrel feeders are indeed made for entertainment. You can design squirrel feeders with tables and chairs. You can design them like a piano, a swing, a wine bottle, a house, and a whole lot more, depending on where your imagination should take you.
Squirrels can give you a different kind of entertainment than birds do. And maybe if you give this method a try, you may find that squirrels are not so bad after all, particularly if they’re not bothering your birds.
Things You Shouldn’t Do
The sixteen things listed above are all great ways to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders or your backyard in general.
But, on top of all these, there’s one thing I want to emphasize:
NEVER HURT THE SQUIRRELS.
Squirrels are living creatures, and they’re doing what they think they should do – survive. And how do they survive? They gather food to eat. That’s why you’ll see them on bird feeders.
However, no matter how much you love birds, keep in mind that squirrels don’t want any harm. That’s why I’ve also included here five things you should never do to keep squirrels away:
1. Don’t Use Poison
Poisoning a squirrel is one of the most inhumane methods of keeping them away from bird feeders. It’s unnecessary, and you’ll only be causing painful death to a little creature.
What makes this method even more problematic is that your pets can become a victim to poisoning, too. On top of that, you would also have problems disposing of a dead squirrel’s body, which probably carries some diseases.
In other words, it creates more problems than solutions.
There are also cases when you have poisoned a squirrel because you are unaware of what food is bad for them or not. Probably you have also left your trash open, and they have ingested something toxic to them.
Here’s a list of some foods that may poison squirrels are:
- Avocado skin/pits
- Fruit pits/seeds
- Chocolate (especially in large quantities)
Besides this, you should also limit giving them unhealthy foods that may decline their health:
- High-starch and high-sugar foods like candy, bread, cookies
- Salty foods
- Junk Foods
- Sunflower seeds
- Dried corn
- Pine nuts
As long as you make sure that your trash can is closed and you don’t provide these foods in bird feeders, squirrels will stay safe.
2. Don’t Cover the Bird Feeder Pole With Glue or Paste
Putting glue or paste on Bird Feeder Poles is another thing that you shouldn’t do. It’s another method that some people use for fun but endangers the animal terribly.
The reasoning behind this method is simple: Inflict pain so that squirrels won’t attempt it again.
This is absolutely unnecessary and inhumane.
Remember those times when you’re doing an art project and using a hot glue gun? And then, at some point, you came in contact with the hot glue, and you’d have to remove your finger immediately?
Or when you need to stick something together with a super strong glue, and you accidentally place your finger in between?
Can you remember the pain of having to remove your finger?
Now, try to think about the squirrels.
Imagine their pain once they get stuck in that pole, trying their hardest to get off and their fur ripping off their bodies. On top of that, even if they are able to release themselves, the glue will stay and irritate their skin.
They might also end up ingesting the toxic substance when they start grooming, which also endangers their overall health.
3. Don’t Use Petroleum Jelly or Grease
Just like with glue or paste, you should never put petroleum jelly, grease, and other types of oil in the bird feeder poles.
The idea behind this is that it makes it harder for squirrels to climb up the bird feeder pole as it will only force them to slide down.
It may sound effective, but you can actually accomplish the same by installing a squirrel baffle or using a slinky. Therefore, it’s an unnecessary thing to do.
Oils or grease can be very dangerous to squirrels. Aside from the fact that it may irritate their skin, it can also be very toxic once they ingest it whenever they’re grooming. And this is not something you’d want to do to squirrels.
Some people would probably recommend using natural oils like soy or coconut. But don’t do this either.
Yes, it may not cause significant harm to squirrels, but it can certainly harm birds.
Birds sometimes prefer landing on metal poles and would even brush their feathers to it. And if you cover your bird feeder poles with any substances, you’ll end up hurting the birds, too.
Their feathers can mat, and it will make it harder for birds to fly. At the same time, its water-proofing and insulating properties weaken, making birds more vulnerable and may lead to them dying.
This also makes it easier for predators to catch them.
4. Don’t Shoot The Squirrels
Sadly, hunting squirrels might be legal in some states. However, whether it’s legal or not, it shouldn’t be something you should do, especially if you have a lot of humane options to keep squirrels away.
Yes, they can be a nuisance. But that’s not an excuse to kill them.
On top of that, if we’re going to get rid of squirrels all over the world, ecosystems and diversity might be affected.
You see, as much as they cause problems because they raid bird feeders, they are also pretty important. Below are some reasons why you shouldn’t consider squirrels a really big nuisance:
- Squirrels are nature’s gardeners.
These little creatures play a very important role in our ecosystem. They are often referred to as seed or spore disperses, planting more trees every day than we do.
Squirrels often bury seeds they find instead of eating them immediately. But, oftentimes, squirrels forget about those, which results in new plants or trees growing everywhere. It’s really helpful, especially that there’s no denying how we need more trees in the future.
And because squirrels eat mushrooms, spores from these fungi are dispersed around through their waste.
- Squirrels don’t chew for no reason.
If you’re using wooden bird feeders, you might have experienced finding squirrels chewing on them instead of just reading your bird seeds. And this can be very upsetting, considering the money you’ve invested for that bird feeder.
However, you should remind yourself that squirrels do this because they need to.
Their front teeth keep on growing which might go right into their jaw if they don’t chew. So, if you have any wooden bird feeders, it’s highly advisable to squirrel-proof them.
Find ways to protect any wood in your home without having to kill squirrels. Because again, these creatures are only doing what they have to do.
- Squirrels are entertainers.
If you give squirrels a chance, you might actually find them entertaining.
Try to go out and spend some time watching squirrels, too. You’ll notice how they have a lot of quirky behaviors that you can consider funny. They might even be great stress-relievers, especially on days when you think you can’t function.
All I’m saying is, squirrels are doing what they have to do, and it’s not right to kill them when they’re only trying to survive.
5. Don’t Let Your Cats or Dogs Chase Them
Some bird watchers let their pets roam around their backyard to keep squirrels away. Sometimes they even get pets just for this reason. And though this can scare squirrels and can be effective, it’s something I don’t recommend.
Because your pets might end up killing squirrels, and it’s really cruel.
You should also remember that cats and dogs can be predators of birds too. In fact, domestic cats are one of the reasons for the decrease in birds’ population.
In other words, by letting your pets go to chase away squirrels, you’re also endangering the birds that go to your bird feeders for a feast.
What attracts squirrels in the first place?
Squirrels chase whatever scent they like including flowers and food sources. This is the reason why it’s very important to ensure that you secure the lids of your trash cans. Because if it’s open, squirrels might think of it as a food source.
Since you can’t get rid of your bird feeders that can also attract squirrels, take care of the seeds that fall from the ground instead. Make sure that everything is clean, so squirrels don’t come.
If you have fruit-bearing and nut-bearing trees, it’s also crucial that you clean up fruits and nuts that fall to the ground. If you don’t have these trees yet and plan to plant one, make sure to plant them away from bird feeders.
Can squirrels eat bird seeds?
Fortunately, bird seeds are not harmful to squirrels. However, letting squirrels eat in bird feeders is something we shouldn’t tolerate.
Aside from the fact that they can damage bird feeders, squirrels also chase birds away. And sometimes, they leave birds with nothing to eat as they spill more seeds on the ground.
Do squirrels like all bird seeds?
Squirrels generally eat anything. But, there are some bird seeds that they don’t like eating. This includes nyjer seed, millet seed, safflower seeds, canary seed, and canola seeds. There’s really no information about why squirrels don’t like these, but they’re pretty effective in keeping squirrels away.
Is it ok to put cayenne pepper in birdseed?
If you’re worried about the birds feeling the heat, you shouldn’t be. Fortunately, capsaicin, the compound found in peppers, doesn’t affect birds. It only affects mammals, including squirrels.
If you’re worried about hurting the squirrels, then try to stick to the recommended preparation of hot birdseed. And that is three tablespoons cayenne in every 5 lbs of birdseed.
You can also just buy hot bird seeds, so you don’t have to create the mixture yourself.
What is the best squirrel repellent?
Pepper-based repellents are proven to be the most effective repellents. This includes hot peppers, black peppers, and cayenne peppers.
You can sprinkle peppers at the bottom of your bird feeder pole or trees to stop squirrels from climbing up. You can also create a spray out of these peppers and spray them on areas where you don’t want squirrels to go.
How far can squirrels jump?
Squirrels are acrobats, and they can certainly jump high and long distances.
Always remember the 5-7-9 rule. This indicates that squirrels can jump as high as 5 feet and can jump across as far as 7 feet. And from a tree, they can jump down at the height of 9 feet.
It’s pretty far, so make sure that bird feeders should not be within these distances.
Will noise scare squirrels away?
Yes, loud noise can scare squirrels away. These creatures are easily horrified by loud noise, which is why some people use mouse traps (not to trap squirrels) to surprise them whenever they attempt to get near.
However, if you’re also attracting birds, this may not be a good idea, mainly because noise drives some birds away as much as squirrels do.
What’s the best squirrel-proof bird feeder?
There are different types of squirrel bird feeders:
And there’s no denying that each of these is effective in keeping squirrels away.
If you want to look at what’s the best, you need to look at the material. It’s highly recommended to choose metal bird feeders so that squirrels can’t chew on them.
If you’re going to choose wood or plastic bird feeders, you need extra protection like some squirrel baffles to stop squirrels from getting on them. Or else, you might end up with damaged bird feeders, and that’s a waste of money.
What decoys can you use to deter squirrels?
Putting fake owls and fake snakes all over your yard is very effective in scaring squirrels away. However, you must keep on moving them. Squirrels can be very smart, and if your decoys stay in one place, they will eventually see that these are fake.
Place the decoys near entrances, but never near bird feeder poles and other areas where birds can see them. Birds might get scared, too, and not visit your yard.
Why do squirrels hate mint?
Regardless if it’s a plant or essential oil, squirrels hate mint. This is probably because of their strong sense of smell, and since mint can emit a strong odor, it irritates their noses.
Is feeding squirrels okay?
There’s nothing wrong with feeding squirrels. However, if you want to do it, don’t feed them by hand. Instead, install squirrel feeders all over your backyard.
If you don’t want this to be in conflict with feeding your birds, keep the squirrel feeders away from your bird feeders. It’s also best to place squirrel feeders in areas where squirrels can find them easily. This way, it’s the first thing they’ll visit, instead of the bird feeders.
What shouldn’t you feed squirrels?
If you want to feed squirrels, take note of some food that can be toxic to them. Here are some foods that you should not feed them:
- Dried vegetables, garlic, fresh corn, onion, palm hearts, sprouts, yams, and potatoes
- Dried fruits, dates, figs, persimmons, raisins, fruit juice, and plums
- Cashews, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, dried corn
You should also avoid feeding them high starch and sugar foods, foods with artificial sweeteners, packaged squirrel food, and junk foods.
Don’t give pits and seeds of fruits to squirrels, too, as these can be toxic.
Why shouldn’t you put anything on a bird feeder pole?
Grease, oils, glue, and other stuff should never be put on a bird feeder pole in an attempt to drive squirrels away. These are not only dangerous to squirrels but to birds, too.
You probably have seen how birds sometimes cling onto bird poles or rub their wings on bird poles. With grease or glue there, the birds’ feathers can be covered in those, damaging them and preventing them from flying well.
This also allows predators to chase them easily and kill them.
Why can’t squirrels climb on PVC or copper pipes?
PVC and copper are two materials you can use for bird feeder poles, so squirrels can’t climb them. These materials somewhat give a hard plastic feel, preventing squirrels from gripping on them strongly. On top of that, if you choose the proper diameter of these pipes, squirrels won’t be able to hug them to climb up.
Final Thoughts On Keeping Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders
In this article, I have shared 17 methods that you can do to keep squirrels away from bird feeders. That’s a lot!
This means that if one method doesn’t work for you, you can try other things, too. And the best part is, you can put together different ways to make them more effective.
For example, you can place a squirrel baffle on your bird feeder pole and still use a squirrel-proof bird feeder. On top of that, you can spray some natural repellents all over your yard to stop squirrels from getting nearer.
You can also opt to feed the squirrels but still fill bird feeders with spicy bird seeds. This way, even if some squirrels ignore their squirrel feeders and go to the bird feeders, they will still not be able to eat.
The guide here is not a one-size-fits-all. You might need to do some tests to figure out what works best for you.
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