Squirrel Deterrent: How To Deter Squirrels From Bird Feeders



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To deter squirrels from bird feeders, position your feeders at least 4 metres away from any jump-off points to prevent squirrels from reaching them. Use squirrel-proof feeders designed with mechanisms that close feeding ports under a squirrel’s weight. Also, consider using safflower seeds or nyjer, which squirrels typically dislike. Alternatively, you could use a spicy birdseed mix, which birds can eat but squirrels find unpleasant. A baffle installed above or below the feeder can also discourage squirrels.

Key Takeaways On How To Repel Squirrels

  • Keeping squirrels out of your feeders can save you money on bird foods and feeder replacements, protect your feeders, help birds access the food they need, and reduce the spread of disease.
  • Plant bulbs and house plants that squirrel’s don’t like and keep your garden and flower pots free from bulb debris and fallen nuts.
  • Natural repellents such as cayenne pepper, garlic, black pepper, apple cider vinegar, predator urine, mothballs, and certain plants can be used to keep squirrels away.

Things to consider:

While squirrels can be entertaining to watch, they can also consume large quantities of bird seed and deter birds from visiting your feeders. If you’re having issues with squirrels at your bird feeders, here are some strategies to deter them:

  1. Location of Feeder: Place your bird feeder at least 10-12 feet away from any trees, fences, or other structures that squirrels could jump from. Also, try to hang it at least 5 feet above the ground.
  2. Squirrel Baffles: Use a baffle (a dome- or cone-shaped device) above or below a bird feeder to prevent squirrels from reaching it. Make sure it is large enough that squirrels can’t reach around it.
  3. Squirrel-Proof Feeders: Some bird feeders are specifically designed to be squirrel-proof. These often use weight-activated mechanisms that close feeding ports when a heavy squirrel is on the feeder, but remain open for lighter birds.
  4. Spicy Bird Seed: Birds do not have the same sensitivity to capsaicin (the compound that makes peppers spicy) that mammals do. Consider purchasing bird seed that is mixed with capsaicin or make your own by mixing liquid capsaicin with your bird seed. This can deter squirrels, but won’t bother the birds.
  5. Use Safflower Seeds: Some birds love safflower seeds, but squirrels typically do not. By filling your feeders with safflower seeds, you might be able to deter squirrels.
  6. Use a Spinner: There are feeders available that spin or tip when a squirrel jumps on, effectively throwing the squirrel off. These feeders can be battery-operated or mechanically triggered by the squirrel’s weight.
  7. Try a Slinky: Attach a slinky to the top of your bird feeder pole. When the squirrel tries to climb the pole, the slinky will uncoil and drop the squirrel back to the ground.
  8. Regularly Clean Up: Squirrels will be attracted to any spilled seed on the ground. Regularly cleaning up any mess under your feeder can help make the area less attractive to squirrels.

Why should I keep squirrels out of my bird feeders?

While squirrels can be charming to watch, there are several reasons why you might want to deter them from your bird feeders:

  • Food Consumption: Squirrels eat a lot and can quickly empty a bird feeder. This means the birds have less food, and you have to refill the feeders more frequently, which can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Scaring Birds: The presence of squirrels can scare off some types of birds, preventing them from visiting your feeders. If your goal is to attract a variety of birds, the activity of squirrels might be counterproductive.
  • Damage to Feeders: Squirrels are known for their ability to chew through just about anything. They can cause significant damage to bird feeders, particularly those made of plastic or thin metal, potentially leading to the need for frequent replacements.
  • Risk of Disease: Like all wild animals, squirrels can carry diseases. While the risk of transmission to humans is low, there’s a greater risk for your pets. Also, the waste left behind by squirrels might attract other unwanted pests.
  • Population Growth: Providing an easy food source, like a bird feeder, can lead to an increase in the local squirrel population. More squirrels can mean more problems, like digging up gardens or potentially chewing through your home’s siding or electrical wiring.

What are some effective squirrel deterrents to keep them out of bird feeders?

Squirrels are cute and playful animals, but they can also cause damage to your property by chewing on wires and plants or digging up your vegetable garden. You can use several natural repellents if you’re looking for a way to keep them away.

One of the most effective natural squirrel repellents is using strong smells that they find unpleasant. Cayenne pepper, hot sauce, garlic, hot chili peppers, coffee grounds and black pepper can be mixed with water and dish soap to create a spray that you can use to keep squirrels away.

Apple cider vinegar spray can also be an effective solution. Spraying the bird feeder with this kitchen staple can create a scent harmful to squirrels that will repel them and discourage them from coming back. Apple cider vinegar is harmless to birds and humans.

Another way to deter squirrels is to switch from sunflower seeds to safflower seeds, which is a natural squirrel repellent. Squirrels eat sunflower seeds, which is one of the most common bird feed, but they hate the bitter taste of safflower seeds and will stay away from feeds that have them.

Safflower Seed

  • Squirrel Deterrent: The safflower seeds are bitter to squirrels, serving as a natural deterrent, and thus focus solely on attracting a variety of birds to your garden.
  • High Nutritional Value: Rich in fats and proteins, these seeds provide the essential energy and nutrition that backyard birds require, enhancing their overall health and vitality.
  • Clean and Healthy: The triple-cleaning process ensures dust and debris are removed before packaging, offering a clean and healthy food source to your feathered friends.
  • Pleasant Aroma: The seeds not only look good but also have a fresh and pleasant smell, making them an even more appealing snack for birds.

Squirrels are also naturally afraid of natural predators like foxes and coyotes, so you can purchase predator urine from hunting stores or online and put them in a spray bottle to sprinkle around your garden or property.

Mothballs contain a chemical called naphthalene with a strong odor that repels squirrels. By placing a few mothballs around the areas where you want to keep the squirrels away, you can deter them from coming too close. However, you should be cautious when using them around children and pets since they can be toxic if ingested.

Certain garden plants like daffodils, alliums, hyacinths, mint and other flower bulbs contain natural compounds and essential oils that squirrels find unpleasant. Plant squirrel-repelling flowers around your property to help get rid of squirrels.

Creating physical barriers using mesh netting, chicken wire, or fences around your garden or property can also prevent squirrels from entering.

It’s important to remember that squirrels are intelligent creatures and may become accustomed to certain repellents over time. So, it’s a good idea to switch up the type of repellent you’re using from time to time to keep the squirrels guessing.

Always use caution when using any type of repellent, especially around children and pets.

What are squirrel-proof bird feeders?

Food supply such as sunflower seeds and water attract squirrels. Squirrel-proof bird feeders are designed to keep the pesky rodents away from your bird seed while still allowing garden birds access. Many of these feeders are distasteful to squirrels, using strong-tasting ingredients such as chili pepper and cayenne pepper.

Others boast weight-sensitive designs — only when a light bird alights on the feeder can its door open, granting entry. Then once the heavier squirrel lands on it, the door quickly shuts.

Of course, few things are truly squirrel-proof since wily rodents have been known to gnaw and climb their way into all sorts of defenses.

Droll Yankees YF-M Yankee Flipper

The Droll Yankees YF-M Yankee Flipper Bird Feeder uses weight-activated technology to keep squirrels at bay, while providing a generous feeding space for a variety of birds.

  • Squirrel-Proof Design: Weight-activated spinning perch effectively discourages squirrels but allows larger birds to feed.
  • Multiple Bird Feeding: Four feeding ports enable different bird species to dine concurrently.
  • Durable Construction: Made with powder-coated heavy-duty metal components for multiple seasons of use.
  • Seed Saving: The squirrel-proof design prevents seed waste, leading to monetary savings and less mess.

Can I just relocate the squirrels to another area?

Relocating squirrels is not an ideal solution to keeping them away from your garden. Though this method might temporarily keep the wildlife away, it’s likely that they will either return or be replaced by other squirrels in the future.

Plus, relocating wild animals can cause unanticipated problems like destroying their new habitats, breeding issues and disturbing the balance of the natural ecosystem.

Far better solutions exist to discourage squirrels from visiting your garden—for example, using mesh fencing to protect vulnerable plants or setting traps near their entry points.

Ultimately, with a bit of creativity and patience you can find an effective way to coexist with these critters without having to remove them from their natural habitats.

Are squirrel traps effective?

A squirrel trap is not only dangerous but also largely ineffective. They are designed to catch and contain a squirrel but often fail, leading to the trapped squirrel becoming further stressed or scared in unfamiliar and dangerous situations.

A live trap can also cause injury to the trapped animal if they panic and flail around trying to escape. Keep in mind that you might be trapping a mother squirrel, separating her from her babies.

Even when correctly secured, squirrels have been known to break off small parts of their own body in an attempt to set themselves free.

Are squirrel repellent spray safe and effective?

Squirrel repellent sprays are widely available in stores and online as a method to combat the presence of squirrels in yards, gardens, and other outdoor areas.

Although numerous options exist, it is important to consider if they are actually safe and effective before choosing one. Generally, these sprays contain natural ingredients such as peppermint oil that squirrels hate mixed with water or other non-toxic solutions.

When used as directed, these products have proven safe for humans and animals alike, but their effectiveness is variable depending on the yard’s environment.

If there are other potential food sources nearby that a squirrel can access more easily than sprayed areas, the spray will likely be less successful in repelling the critters.

Since repellents work best when freshly applied regularly, customers must factor in not just the purchase price but also their own time spent reapplying to ensure enough protection from troublesome rodents.

How to identify squirrel damage?

One of the most common culprits of damage in gardens and other outdoor spaces with feeders is squirrels. With their playful antics and bushy tails, these mischievous animals can wreak havoc on your garden if the proper preventative measures are not taken.

If you’ve noticed a suspicious amount of broken stems or gnawed bark or seed heads around your feeders, chances are that you may have a squirrel problem on your hands.

Thankfully, they aren’t too hard to spot as they tend to be very active during the day and are often seen around birdfeeders scavenging for food or fertilizer. The only way to truly know whether squirrels or other critters are responsible for the damage in your garden is by carefully examining the area around your birdfeeders and making sure everything is in order.

Are there any other tips for keeping squirrels out of bird feeders?

  • Are there any other tips for keeping squirrels out of bird feeders?
  • Squirrels don’t like the feel of gravel and mulch under their feet, so add these to your garden soil or garden beds. Adding mulch to your planting bed can also discourage digging of planted bulbs.
  • Use row covers, bird netting, plastic netting or chicken wire to squirrel-proof gardens, or line the bottom soil with hardware cloth.
  • Installing a squirrel baffle around your bird feeder creates a barrier and becomes a squirrel proof bird feeder
  • You can also get a dog that will chase squirrels. Dogs love chasing these little critters and squirrels are afraid of them.
  • Put human or dog hair in places where squirrels love to visit. Doing so will make them think that a human is nearby.
  • Soak cotton balls in essential oils and place them on jar lids around the planting hole along with aluminum foil to stop squirrels from digging.
  • Other people deal with squirrels by simply providing them with their own food to stop them from feasting on bird foods, whilst a squirrel proof feeder on a bird feeder pole will help alleviate the problem many squirrels soon learn to get around them.
  • You can also create your own squirrel feeder, by feeding the squirrels away from bird feeders. If you choose to feed squirrels, then ensure the bird feeders are put on a squirrel proof feeder pole and have squirrel resistant feeders for the bird food and bird seeds.

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