Squirrels - Creative Ways To Keep Them Out Of Your Birdfeeders

Tips on how to keep a squirrel out of your birdfeeding stations...or how to at least slow them down!

Although sometimes entertaining to watch, squirrels can wreck havoc on our birdfeeders and any food we put in them. Is there really a way to keep them out of bird feeders for good?

There are two ways to approach the squirrel issue: You can feed them, or you can fight them. Feeding is an obvious solution, although it is hard to designate an area that works strictly for squirrels. If you choose to feed squirrels, you'll probably have to put up with a bit of their trouble. You can offer squirrels a separate feeder with peanuts, cracked corn or sunflower seeds, but chances are, if you invite them to eat, they'll find a way to take whatever they can, regardless of who it is intended for.

Preventing squirrels from getting to your birdfeeders is sometimes a Herculean task, especially if your feeding area is near trees. Squirrels can easily jump five feet up and eight feet across, particularly when there is something worth jumping for! Here are some tips to try if you want to deter squirrels from emptying your feeders:

Place feeders outside of squirrels reach - away from trees, fences, bushes, houses, and anything the squirrel could launch itself from. Squirrels have tremendous jumping power, even WITHOUT a running start.

If the feeder is on a pole, put a "baffle" around the base of the birdfeeder. This should theoretically keep the squirrel from being able to climb the pole, although especially greedy squirrels have been known to get past them. Along these same lines are surrounding the posts with a metal cone, such as a section of stove pipe. Resist the urge to "paint" them. The shiny metal may be an eyesore to your feeding area, but painting the cone makes it easier for the squirrel to climb.

If you are want to deter a squirrel from climbing a pole on which your feeder is perched, it is often suggested to try something slippery on the pole: Vaseline, cooking spray, oil, etc. However, do not use this technique if you aren't looking to harm the squirrels. The squirrels may instead decide to try snacking on the substance, and it is still unknown if ingesting grease-type products is healthy for them. You may intend to only discourage their climbing when the grease may in fact be harmful to eat.

Make sure that feeders intended for birds are not hung by a rope. Squirrels can chew through the rope very quickly and send your feeder (and its contents) crashing to the ground. Instead choose a feeder that is hung with either a metal or plastic coated wire.

There are supposed "squirrel-proof feeders", which tip or spin when a squirrel tries to jump on them. Their success depends more on the determination of the squirrel (and also where the product is placed in the yard) than the actual product itself. While they generally end up deterring the animal, there are still people who swear their squirrels can foil even the best plan, and have seen them sitting atop the supposedly squirrel proof feeder, enjoying a tasty treat.

Other places sell "caged birdfeeders" which are better at keeping squirrels out. This consists of a birdfeeder which has a mesh cage surrounding it - the "wiring" is large enough that small birds can make their way through to eat, but an average size gray squirrel can not.

Consider what food you are offering to your birds. Squirrels go nuts for sunflower seeds. If this is what you are feeding to your birds, expect your squirrels to find a way to get it, too. Some sources state that bird foods such as safflower seed and suet are not as attractive to squirrels (as well as large boisterous birds such as grackles and blue jays) so consider this when choosing what to offer to your feathered friends.

In addition to what kind of seed you are offering to the squirrels, you might want to think about adding something to the seed. Crushed or powdered hot pepper (such as cayenne)is a great deterrent. It apparently does not make squirrels sick; it just makes it so they are no longer attracted to what you are serving. Cayenne pepper has no effect whatsoever on birds. Try one tablespoon of cayenne pepper to a ten pound bag of seed and see what results you get.

These are just some of the popular suggestions which are currently in trial. And, while some examples work for some people"¦even for a short time"¦you should know that squirrels are smart animals and tend to be able to solve the problem of "how to get to that birdfeeder" after a bit of planning. Some people go so far as to electrify their birdfeeder (with a switch that can be hit from inside the house, when birds aren't on the feeder, but squirrels are). Another popular last resort is to find the nearest shotgun.

But, if that's not your nature, you may just have to give into the squirrel and his antics and end up offering him a bite to eat. Just remember to take a second job to pay for the extra seed. Good luck!

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