Squirrels and bird feeders go hand-in-hand. While the occasional visit from a furry friend is delightful for most people, the frequent presence of squirrels around your feeders can quickly become a nuisance. Not only can these critters eat you out of house and home, their rodent acrobatics can damage feeders. These factors can end up costing you time and money.
Here are some tips for squirrel-proofing your bird feeders and keeping the peace in your yard.
Invest in a squirrel-proof feeder
Certain types of bird feeders are designed with squirrels in mind. Some have cages designed to keep anything other than birds from accessing feed. Others have small motors that are activated by weight sensors that gently nudge squirrels in the right direction.
Avoiding platform feeders and other easy-access food stuffs will also help ensure that birds have feeding areas to themselves.
If you don’t want to invest in a new feeder, there are still plenty of things you can do.
Keep the ground clean
Frequently raking the ground near and around your feeders can help keep squirrels at bay. In many instances, discarded seeds and shells laying about are a squirrels first hint that there is a food source present.
By not providing a low-effort feeding opportunity, you are less likely to encourage the presence of squirrels to begin with.
Pick the right pole
It’s no secret that squirrels are excellent at climbing. Most wood and metal poles that hang bird feeders are no match for the prowess of these four-legged critters. However, PVC pipe can prove to be more of a challenge.
If you don’t want to go that route, you can do what my grandpa did and apply a thin layer of Crisco to the bottom couple of feet of the pole. For a little less maintenance , consider adding a slinky to the base of the pole.
Tweak your feed
Squirrels aren’t too picky about bird feed varieties, but they are a little more selective than many bird species. Tinkering with your offerings can lead to different results. For instance, switching to a mix that features safflower has been known to deter squirrels.
Another option is adding a bit of spice to your feed. Adding chili peppers or chili flakes to your mix will nip your squirrel troubles in the bud since these animals are sensitive to the taste and sensation of heat. Birds, on the other hand, are not.
Give the squirrels their own feeder
If you want the best of both worlds, you can simply feed the squirrels in your yard as well.
Providing peanuts or dried corn in a squirrel-friendly feeder can take away the need for squirrels to ransack your bird feeders. Accessibility is key because, like most living creatures, squirrels are much more apt to take the easy meal over one that requires exerting significant effort.
You can keep everyone happy by offering appropriate, approachable feeding opportunities for a variety of animals that inhabit your yard.