Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders That Work
How to Stop Squirrels From Stealing Your Bird Food
Part of the pest control guide by the Team at DIY Gardening
To some, squirrels are welcome cute and fluffy-tailed garden visitors. To others, they’re public enemy number one.
To bird-loving gardeners though, squirrels are the ultimate garden thieves as they’re capable of stealing hundreds of pounds worth of bird food, right from under the beaks of the local birdlife.
If you want to encourage more birdlife into your garden (who wouldn’t?) but are struggling to so so because squirrels are pinching the food, try one of our reviewed bird feeders below. They are all designed to deter squirrels while allowing the local birds to feast.
Be warned though; squirrels are as crafty as cats and they’ll try their best to steal the food, wherever it’s placed.
Let the battle begin!
The Squirrel Buster Feeder
The Squirrel Buster is by far the best squirrel proof bird feeder that we’ve seen in the UK.
Well-designed and constructed robustly, this device can be hung from walls, hooks, tree branches and bird tables.
Should a heavy animal such as a squirrel or pigeon climb onto the device, the weight pushes the seed holder downwards, closing the holes where the birdseed can be found.
As soon as the pigeon or squirrel steps off the feeder, the feeding hole is opened.
Small birds are so light that they can reach the food without setting off the closing device.
There are several products and sizes within the Squirrel Buster range to choose from but they’re all based on the same principle.
We tested the Finch and the Peanut, both worked well despite the squirrels spending hours trying to break into the device.
The video below explains how the Squirrel Buster works:
See how much the Squirrel Buster feeder currently costs:
The Roamwild Pestoff Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Similar in design to the Squirrel Buster, the Roamwild Pestoff uses spring-mounted feeding ports. Whenever a large animal sits on or hangs from the device, the ports are closed off making it impossible for the pest to gain access to the food.
The device also has a rounded hood which acts as a rain guard, this keeps the seeds dry and free from clogging and rot – a common problem with other, inferior products.
You can expect the Roamwild Pestoff to deter rats, squirrels, crows, pigeons and magpies. It’s woodpecker friendly and smaller birds, such as finches, will love it.
Holding an impressive 1.5 litres of bird seeds, this feeder won’t need refilling as often as smaller feeders. Fill with sunflower hearts or mixed seeds, this feeder is versatile and built to last.
Nature’s Market Squirrel Guard Feeder
This is our favourite fat ball feeder, the thick metal frame is sturdy enough to deter even the most determined squirrel.
This feeder by Nature’s Market keeps out large birds such as pigeons, crows and rooks, creating a safe haven for smaller birds such as starlings, sparrows and blue tits.
Other versions of this feeder don’t perform so well; the plastic insert can be damaged by squirrels but this version, which is designed for fat balls is very robust.
If the squirrels in your garden figure out how to open the lid, as they did in our test, just secure the lid down with garden wire. This is easy to do and only takes a few moments.
Fat ball feeders are easy to secure against squirrels as they don’t have any plastic parts, just a thick metal frame.
Add a fat ball feeder to your selection of bird feeders and you’ll encourage a whole host of lovely birds to your garden.
If you’re using a pole-mounted feeding station, then you’ll know how easy it is for squirrels to climb up the pole and raid the feeders.
A baffle is any device that stops the squirrels from gaining access to the feeders and the cheapest product also happens to be the best – a domed pole baffle.
This product doesn’t include the pole, only the dome is supplied which is made from slippery hard plastic and is 40cm wide.
As squirrels can jump up to four feet from the ground, make sure this domed baffle is placed high enough so they can’t bypass it.
Cheap and easy to use, this baffle works but only if the squirrels can’t jump over it, so choose your location carefully. The pole, feeders and baffle should be located far enough away from launch pads such as trees, branches and walls/fences etc.
Bird Seed and Food That Squirrels Won’t Eat
Squirrels absolutely love peanuts, sunflower hearts, fruit and cereals and they’ll also consume a wide selection of other foodstuffs.
There are, however, some foodstuffs that squirrels generally ignore.
Try filling your bird feeders with these feeds and you’ll keep the birds happy while the squirrels pass on by:
- Niger Seed, also known as Nyger or Thistle Seed, is a food that’s generally ignored by squirrels unless they are really desperate. It will, however, attract small and medium-sized birds such as sparrows, finches, redpolls and siskins. Unwanted birds such as pigeons and doves may also be attracted to it, so consider placing this seed in a feeder rather than via a bowl or dish.
- Safflower Seed isn’t the preferred food for birds but if let outside for long enough, titmice, some finches and some woodpeckers will find and consume it. It can take a little while for the local birdlife to get used to Safflower seed but eventually, they will. The good news is that squirrels will only eat it as a last resort.
- Capsaicin is often added to suet as birds will consume it while squirrels are deterred by the heat from this pepper extract. If you’re making your own suet balls, try adding this extract to them.
Scented Spray Repellents
Squirrels dislike hot pepper extract, garlic, peppermint oil and onions. These disrupt the squirrel’s sense of smell, so they generally stay away from them.
Extracts of these hot or pungent foodstuffs can be sprayed or rubbed onto or near bird feeders, the birds will still be attracted to the food while some of the squirrels will be deterred.
While not 100% effective, they can put off some squirrels so is worth considering.
Do squirrel proof bird feeders work?
They work very well provided they’re placed far enough away from fences, walls, trees and branches so squirrels can’t jump or hang from these and gain access to the feeder. Metal feeders are also more resilient to squirrels than plastic ones.
How can I deter garden squirrels naturally?
You can deter squirrels naturally without using chemicals by placing your bird feeders strategically in the garden away from launchpads, by using a squirrel-proof bird feeder, choosing seeds and food that squirrels dislike and by deploying baffles.
Do squirrels eat suet feed?
Squirrels love birdseed suet but will stay away from it if it contains capsaicin which is a hot pepper extract that birds happily consume.
How can I stop squirrels climbing my bird feeder pole?
First, you should relocate the pole far away from launchpads such as trees, overhanging branches and fences etc. Next, use a baffle such as a dome to stop the squirrel climbing up the pole.
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