This is the expert guide to defending your bird feeder from squirrels. It covers:
- Best Squirrel Deterrents
- Best Anti-Squirrel Bird Feeds
- Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Best Squirrel DeterrentsAdd Vaseline to Your Bird Hang Station
This is a weird one (but actually quite clever!). If you’re using a bird hanging station or a bird feeder on a pole, one way to deter squirrels is to add vaseline to the poles or legs of the station. Vaseline isn’t harmful to the squirrels (don’t worry, certainly no harm to animals here) but it will stop them from getting any grip and climbing up the pole. Remember to top it up every month or so as vaseline will eventually wash away in the rain.
Hang Bird Feeders at Least 6 Feet from Trees, Bushes and Low Hanging Branches
Did you know that the average squirrel can leap at least 5 x its body length? Yep, squirrels are masterful acrobats. For that reason, if you consider the average squirrel is about 1 foot in length (maybe a bit more!), you should try to hang your feeders at least 6 feet from the nearest tree, bush or low hanging branch. Keep an eye out for any low lying walls or sheds that could make a perfect launch point, too.
Add a Cage
Now, not everyone will be able to hang a bird feeder at least 6 feet from any launch points. If that’s you, the best thing you can do is purchase a squirrel resistant cage. You can find these cages on eBay or Amazon for quite cheap, and they are your number one defence against squirrels. They work by simply slotting over the top of your bird feeder and act as a physical barrier between the squirrel and your nuts. You will need to measure up the circumference of your feeder so you buy the right one to fit, but a ruler and a touch of the old 1+1=11 should find you the right one.
Add Some Extra Height to Your Bird Feeder
So, as you just learned, the average squirrel can leap 5 x its body length. This gives a squirrel about 5 to 6 feet of total trajectory. Now, if your bird feeder is any lower than 6 feet off the ground (the average male height, if that helps), a squirrel will likely be able to summon the strength to simply leap onto your feeder. This can be a pain when it comes to refilling your feeder, but hopefully, if you add some height, you won’t need to refill it as often as when it's within the squirrel's direct reach.
Dust Your Bird Feed with Chilli Pepper
Disclaimer - This next method can be a little controversial, however, we’ve spoken to the RSPB and they can confirm that no harm comes to the squirrel and the squirrel only experiences a minor burning sensation. So, if you really want to deter squirrels, one technique is to sprinkle just a touch of mild Chilli Pepper into your bird seed mix. The birds will taste no difference and, as we just mentioned, the squirrel will experience a minor burning sensation which will keep them very wary the next time they consider stealing your feed.
Feed Squirrels at a Seperate Feeder
The easiest way to stop squirrels from eating your expensive bird feed is to just feed them at a separate feeder. Trust us, squirrels are wiley, intelligent creatures and will do almost anything to get at your feed. So, instead of trying to deter them, offer them an alternative food source. The best way to do this is to set up a small ground feeder with a whole tray of Monkey Nuts. Monkey Nuts are harder to eat as the squirrel will need to take time breaking off the shell to get to the peanut inside. This will keep them both well occupied and well fed. Try it and let us know what you think.
Best Anti-Squirrel Bird FeedsSo, let’s say you try each of the deterrents above but you still can’t keep those pesky squirrels off your nuts - what’s the next best step? Well, while it may not be the most popular idea, you can always try switching to an anti-squirrel bird feed. These are feeds which are either unpopular with squirrels or feeds they simply detest. Try one or a mixture of the following:
Niger seed is highly unpopular with squirrels due its fiddly shape and size. Squirrels find it hard to pick up and therefore can’t easily smuggle it away for eating later. Niger seeds also require a mesh feeder which can only be accessed by small birds with soft beaks that can poke through the holes.
Ever tried a Safflower Seed? If you have, then you’ll know they have a very distinctive bitter taste. Fortunately, squirrels can also taste the bitterness of the Safflower Seed, while birds, fortunately, do not. Try to find either a Safflower Seed based seed mix or blend in a couple of big handfuls of Safflower Seed with your chosen mix to deter squirrels.
No Wheat Seed Mix
Squirrels adore wheat-based seeds and suet. These feeds often contain a much higher calorie content than wheat-free based feeds. This is why a No Wheat Seed Mix can be a great way to deter squirrels as the calorie reward to energy output ratio doesn’t benefit the squirrel as highly. Try this No Wheat Based Seed Mix.
Hot Pepper Fat Balls
If you’re not a fan of sprinkling your bird feed in chilli pepper, you could always try these Hot Pepper Fat Balls. Again, the birds taste no difference but the squirrels will get a small hot shock which will deter them from targeting your feeders in the future. As mentioned previously, this method has been approved by the RSPB, so you can rest assured that there is no long lasting harm to the squirrel.
The final seed worth trying is White Millet. For some reason squirrels seem to take a dislike to millet seeds. We’re not sure whether it’s the taste or the low calories content, but squirrels seem to give it a swerve when it's on offer. Birds on the other hand seem to love millet.
Best Squirrel Proof Bird FeedersIf we’re completely honest, there’s no such thing as a squirrel proof bird feeder. Squirrels are highly intelligent animals that can overcome almost any obstacle put in front of them. However, there are some bird feeders which can provide an extra challenge to any pesky garden visitors. If you have the budget available, try one of the following feeders:
RSPB Squirrel Buster
Squirrels can be a real nuisance when trying to feed your local garden birds. If this is a consistent problem, try out the brilliantly designed squirrel buster from the RSPB. This feeder does away with the need for a guardian as an internal weight-activated mechanism covers the feeding ports whenever a squirrel arrives. We found this to be a simple and effective solution to stop squirrels eating your feathered friend's bird seed.
Buy Now £25.99
RoamWild Squirrel Defence
Another option is this clever squirrel proof tube feeder from Roamwild. Featuring individually spring-loaded feeding stations, this feeder only lets songbirds feed and will leave squirrels baffled at how to get the tasty nyjer seed you've left for your feathered friends. This version is a tad more expensive than the RSPB model, but it is also waterproof, which should prevent seed clogging and requires less effort and time to set up.
Buy Now - £59.99
Gardman Heavy Duty Squirrel Defence
If you're looking for a heavy-duty bird feeder that will stop even the smartest squirrels from accessing your bird seed, then this option from Gardman is an ideal solution. Featuring a thick cast iron cage, this feeder is ideal for ensuring your smaller birds get the energy they need to thrive throughout the year. As far as caged feeders go, this was one of the most effective and stylish we've tried.
Buy Now - £59.71