Last week on our "Feeder Friday" blog post, we were discussing squirrels and how to keep them off your bird feeders. Lots of you offered your ideas on what has helped you. Here's an overview of what things we have found works for squirrel-proofing.
1. Place bird feeders on a pole and put a squirrel-baffle on the pole below the feeders. The baffle needs to be a reasonable height, at least 4 or more feet high. A baffle is a physical barrier that a squirrel cannot climb up over. There are many kinds, some shaped like a cone, some like a cylinder. Here's one of our Stokes Select Squirrel Baffles that wraps around a pole, shown above. The cone has a seam whereby you can open the baffle, then wrap it around a pole, then snap the seam back together. That makes it possible to attach it to a pole that has a bending arm at the top, like the one shown. The baffle sits on a clamp you attach to the pole. These baffles really work. They prevent Gray Squirrels and also Red Squirrels from climbing the pole and reaching the feeder. A big point here is that you have to place the pole at least 12-15 feet (depending on your squirrel's jumping ability) or more from any place a squirrel can jump from including trees, bushes, houses, porches, railings etc. Otherwise, a squirrel could climb up a tree and jump down on the feeder from above the baffle.
2. There are a number of kinds of squirrel-proof feeders. Some are a cage wrapped around a feeder that allows the birds in, but not the squirrels. The beauty of these is that you can put them anywhere, especially in situations were you cannot, or do not, want to mount your feeders on a pole. This would include places like a heavily wooded yard, where you cannot place a pole far enough away from trees, or a deck that squirrels can get on. With these feeders, it does not matter if the squirrels gets on them, the point is the squirrel cannot get to the seed.
Other types of squirrel-proof feeders feature some kind of thing that closes over the seed, triggered by the weight of a squirrel. Beware placing them hanging them from a pole, as a squirrel could climb the pole, hang from its back feet while not putting any weight on the closure mechanism, thereby accessing the seed.
Here's a squirrel-proof suet feeder, enclosed in a cage. This squirrel is having second thoughts and did not get the suet.
Then there's the diversion tactics. The theory is that if you give the squirrels their own feeders, they'll stay away from the seed, mostly. This is a great idea, but it's not a substitite for squirrel-proofing your feeders, which you should do even if you feed the squirrels.
A plus for feeding the squirrels, is that they can be so darn cute. There are "Critter Mixes" of seed (usually containing lots of cracked corn) that cater to squirrels. This Red Squirrel is eating off a platform that has a low pole. The low platform allows squirrels, and ground-dwelling birds, to feed.
One more thought. Some people enjoy the constant battle with the squirrels, they actually do not want to win it and claim they have the world's most (fill in the black here with the adjective of your choice such as, clever, fast, strong, biggest, etc.) squirrel. And that's OK too.