Written By Chris Uhtoff
Since bird seed has gotten more expensive, keeping squirrels away from birdfeeders has taken on more importance for many people. If squirrels are becoming your backyard nemesis there are a variety of methods to keep feeders squirrel free; and all are simple solutions for protecting birdfeeders.
The first consideration for most people is that they have a good view to see and enjoy the birds, so where the feeders will be located will decide which method to use.
If your preferred bird feeding site is in a open yard, you’re in luck, and all you need is a pole with a squirrel baffle and you can use whatever feeder you would like. The metal Sheppard’s poles from Erva are great because they are easy to hang feeders from, and the metal will not rot like wood. The simplest and cheapest squirrel baffle is to use 4.5 feet of large diameter (over 2.5 inches) smooth plastic pipe placed over the pole. Squirrels can climb any wood pole or small diameter smooth pole by getting their paws all the way around it, but the combination of a large diameter and smooth stops them by not allowing any grip. Erva also makes a variety of squirrel baffles for poles including ones for four by four posts or you can get creative and make your own.
When you’re assembling your squirrel proof feeding station always consider the athletic prowess of squirrels. They can jump up to 4 feet vertically and over 10 feet horizontally so the top of any baffle (or feeder) must be above four feet and farther than 10 feet horizontally from anything a squirrel could jump from.
Hanging baffles are an easy and relatively inexpensive solution. These will work if you can hang your feeder and baffle where the feeder will be higher than four feet from the ground and farther than 10 feet horizontally from any surface a squirrel could jump from. A hanging baffle needs to be wider than the squirrels body and completely cover the feeder that is underneath. Our favorite is the large and indestructible hanging baffles made by Erva. Songbird Essentials and Aspects maker clear plastic ones that also work well but are a little smaller. Or you can build your own using a garbage can lid and hooks on either side of the lid. You can position your feeder in high branches with the long Branch hooks from Erva or by throwing a strap over the branch and hanging the baffle and feeder from the strap (be careful the rope or strap does not cut into the tree branch).
A cable or rope between structures or trees works great to hang feeders and baffles from. Again the feeders need to hang over four feet from the ground or 10 feet from any structure a squirrel could jump from. The cable method is usually a pretty good way to keep bears away from feeders, but in that instance the bottom of feeders need to be over 8-10 feet from the ground and you will have to fill feeders using a ladder. If you use small diameter coated metal cable as the hanging line you might not need a hanging baffle at all as squirrels probably will not be able to walk across it.
However if the perfect place for your bird feeder viewing also allows squirrels jumping space you will need to purchase a squirrel- proof bird feeder. Some of the most popular are the Squirrel Buster Series; these have a lot of great things about them- nearly all of the exposed parts are metal so frustrated squirrels will not succeed in destroying the feeder to get at the food, there is good airflow inside the tubes so moldy wet seed is less of a problem, and the perches are shaped to accommodate a wide variety of birds (on the downside they are made overseas). Our other favorite is the squirrel proof selective feeders from duncraft. This features a large cage around a duncraft tube feeder and a metal roof and a cage bottom, is a little large but has the added bonus of not allowing Jays and other large birds to use the feeder. Other popular models and highly functional models are the Yankee tipper/flipper series.