Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders – Do They Exist?
Bird enthusiasts have long dreamt of a squirrel-proof birdfeeder, and for the most part, have come up empty-handed. Winter or summer, the squirrel proves to be the cleverest of adversaries when it comes to raiding the birdfeeder. Unlike other rodents, the squirrel doesn’t hibernate, so it has plenty of time to scope out even the most challenging birdfeeder. It’s also extremely dexterous, can handle just about any surface – slippery or not – and happens to like many of the same foods that birds do.
For the enthusiast who is determined to keep squirrels out of the feeder, there are a few options, none of which are 100-percent effective against an equally determined squirrel. (Keep in mind, for the squirrel, the consequences of failure are just a little higher!)
There are certain types of seeds that the squirrel just doesn’t like. Small, fine seeds like thistle and safflower generate virtually no interest from a squirrel. Unless a squirrel is completely desperate, suet isn’t very appetizing to them, either. Stocking feeders with seeds they don’t like, or represent more trouble than they’re worth is one strategy for “squirrel-proofing” a feeder.
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Another approach to discouraging squirrel incursions is to place the feeder in a location where a squirrel can’t get at it. This approach may be more successful at repelling the rodents, but is technically much more difficult! Squirrels are highly agile, can jump long distances, are not easily discouraged when a free meal is at stake, and can negotiate most surfaces. They are also smart enough to figure out how to hit a feeder precisely enough to deliver maximum spillage.
Smaller feeders with large baffles can sometimes prevent a squirrel from mooching a freebie, and some bird watchers have found that a mechanical baffle that is actuated by the squirrel’s weight is helpful in protecting meals meant exclusively for birds. Hanging a feeder on a horizontal line that includes baffles on either side of the feeder may be successful in preventing the squirrel from approaching the feeder. Baffles may include 2-liter plastic soda bottles or other similar containers that spin freely around the horizontal line. When a squirrel tries to negotiate the lines, the free-spinning containers should deposit the squirrel on the ground sans dinner.
Another tried-and-true approach is to provide a squirrel feeder, filled with treats fit for a rodent. If placed in the right location, the squirrel feeder will draw the squirrels away from bird feeders, and will be no match for other rodents who may be out looking for an easy dinner.