Squirrel Proofing Your Bird Feeders - A How-To Guide
Posted by JCs Wildlife on 14th Apr 2023
Wait a minute… Is that squirrel out there sitting in my bird feeder, gorging itself on my expensive seed and scaring off all the birds? Why yes, yes he is…
Yes, unfortunately it’s a real thing. Squirrels like bird seed! Not only that, but they are also smart and very acrobatic - not to mention mischievous! How in the heck am I going to deal with this situation? Many backyard bird feeding enthusiasts have been asking this same question for years. There are many ways to discourage them, but very few are 100% effective in keeping them off your bird feeders.
We’re going to explore some available options and discuss each one. While you may not be able to keep the squirrels off your bird feeders 100% of the time, you can at least try to frustrate them as much as they are frustrating you.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! The simplest approach can sometimes be the best answer. If squirrels are eating your bird seed, why not feed them something they like in a different location? If your yard is large enough to accommodate this notion, try placing some squirrel food in an area as far from your bird feeders as possible. Perhaps offer them some peanuts or corn. Playing nice in the sandbox with your backyard squirrels by giving them a squirrel food option might help keep them off your bird feeders.
Put your existing feeder in a cage. If you have feeders that you really like and you’re not sure whether or not you’re ready to invest in a fancy new squirrel-proof bird feeder, there is an option for you. There are universal cages out on the market today that are made to house an existing feeder. The cage shown on the left is offered in 2 different sizes; one is taller than the other. Not all feeders will fit into these, but if you use tube feeders, these may be something to consider.
The cage on the right is designed to go around a seed cylinder feeder and seed cylinder. If you use seed cylinders to feed birds, this cage presents a great option to enclose your cylinder.
There are a couple of drawbacks to these cages. First of all, if the openings in the cage are small enough to keep squirrels out, they may also prevent larger birds from getting to the seed. Birds like the Red-bellied Woodpecker or even the Northern Cardinal may not be comfortable going inside the cage to eat at the feeder. The cages are also a little clunky or cumbersome to use. In the case of the seed cylinder cage, you have to completely remove the feeder from the cage to replace the seed cylinder.
Use a squirrel-proof baffle if your feeder is mounted to a pole. If you use a pole or a pole system in your yard, you may want to consider adding a baffle. Shown below are 2 different baffle options. The baffle on the left is an inline, torpedo-like baffle. This patented Squirrel Stopper spring loaded baffle is a great way to keep squirrels from climbing up your pole. When properly mounted and with your pole situated a safe “squirrel distance” from a jumping off point, this baffle will prevent squirrels from accessing your feeder by climbing up the pole.
If your pole is stuck in the ground and you have no way to get this baffle mounted, or if you’re using a shepherd’s hook with a curved hanger at the top, then a wrap-around baffle might be a good choice (pictured on the right below). This baffle breaks apart so you can wrap it around your pole, then snap it back together. There is an included bracket which you attach to the pole and the baffle rests on top of it.
Purchase a pole or pole system with a baffle. If your feeder is not on a pole, you may want to consider this option. Squirrel Stopper and JCs Wildlife have some great pole systems. The Universal Pole Kit comes without a baffle, but one can be purchased separately. The Denali pole system comes with a baffle and a universal mounting bracket. The Sequoia comes with a baffle, as well as hangers for your feeders. Lastly, if you’re looking for something beefy, the Deluxe pole system is the right choice for you. This system sports a 2” diameter pole and can hold up to 30lbs. When properly installed, the Squirrel Stopper systems will do just that, stop the squirrels from getting to your bird feeders. Squirrel Stopper pole systems can be found on the JCs Wildlife website here: