Stop squirrels from climbing up your bird feeder pole by installing squirrel baffles or even a metal slinky. You can also replace your wooden bird feeder pole with a PVC post to prevent squirrels from climbing up to the feeder. If these solutions don’t work, try caging your bird seed to stop squirrels from reaching it. Cayenne pepper can also be used to make the seed painful for squirrels to eat. For a high-tech solution, use a weight sensor to close feeding ports when a squirrel tries to feed.
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6 Methods to Stop Squirrels from Climbing Your Bird Feeder Pole
Making a squirrel-proof bird feeder is fairly simple and only takes a few common items. Below, we’ll cover the best ways to squirrel-proof feeders.
A squirrel baffle is a device that blocks squirrels from climbing up poles. They come in multiple shapes including: dome, cone, platform, and pole. Cone baffles tend to be one of the most effective and the easiest to set up. Use this cone-shaped squirrel baffle to protect your bird feeder from pesky squirrels.
- A baffle is a disc-shaped device that prevents squirrels from climbing up feeder poles.
- Install your baffle at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) up the pole to stop squirrels from bypassing it.
- Secure the baffle to stop it from sliding down on the pole.
To install a squirrel baffle, fit the baffle around the pole at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) off the ground. Squirrels can leap over 4 feet (1.2 meters), so it’s essential to install the baffle at a high point. Once you’ve got your baffle at the appropriate height, close the sides of the baffle to create a complete barrier. Some baffles clip together, while others are closed with included screws.
Attaching a common metal slinky to your feeder pole is a great way to frustrate squirrels. As squirrels try to climb, their weight pulls the slinky to the bottom of the pole preventing them from getting up. A slinky works similarly to a baffle because it prevents squirrels from climbing past a certain point.
- This slinky-style spring can be used to stop squirrels from climbing feeder poles.
- To work, the feeder post must run through the center of the slinky.
- Attach the slinky near the top of your feeder post and let it hang down, so it can stop climbing squirrels.
For the slinky to work, the bird feeder pole must run through the center of the slinky. Attach the top of the slinky at the top of the feeder pole. Zip ties make securing the slinky easy. Then, let the slinky hang down, around the pole. Climbing squirrels will be stopped by the slinky as they try to climb the feeder pole. This will protect your bird seed from opportunistic squirrels.
A feeder pole composed of PVC pipe is much harder for a squirrel to climb up than other types. This is because the hard plastic of a PVC is slippery and hard to sink claws into. While you will have to replace your existing post for this to work, PVC is inexpensive and works great as a squirrel-proof bird feeder pole.
- Replace your feeder pole with a length of PVC pipe to stop squirrels from climbing.
- PVC is more slippery than wood and other materials, making it harder for squirrels to climb.
- Use a pole with a diameter of 2 inches (5 cm) or larger to prevent squirrels from climbing.
It’s best to use a larger-diameter PVC pipe for this method to work. Choose a PVC pipe 2 inches (5 cm) or larger in diameter. A small pole is easy for squirrels to grip, but a larger pole is difficult for squirrels to grasp, especially when it is made of slick PVC.
Caged feeders are a great way to block off squirrels from the feeder food source. Cages prevent squirrels from reaching in but birds can easily reach the same food with their beaks. Use this feeder cage to squirrel-proof your feeders and keep your feeders clean.
- Replace your open feeder with a caged feeder to prevent squirrels from raiding the feeder.
- If squirrels crawl through openings in your caged feeder, add a layer of chicken wire over the feeder cage for extra protection.
- Make sure birds can still reach the seed but squirrels cannot.
If you have had trouble with squirrels crawling through cage feeders before, consider wrapping the feeder in chicken wire. It’s essential to choose a material that is small enough to prevent squirrels from crawling inside, but still allows birds to reach the seeds.
A weight-activated feeder can be used to ensure that only birds eat from your feeder. In essence, a weight-sensor closes the feeding ports when too heavy a weight is on it. Birds are too light to trigger it but a heavier squirrel can easily cause all feeding ports to close.
- This squirrel-proof feeder has a weight sensor that closes feeder ports when squirrels attempt to feed.
- Birds are light enough that weight-activated feeder ports will not close.
- Squirrels weigh much more than birds, so weight-sensing feeders will close when a squirrel climbs onto the feeder.
If your feeder is situated under a tree where squirrels can leap to the feeder from the tree branches, a weight-sensing feeder is the best option. This way, even squirrels that find a way to climb or bypass the feeder pole can’t steal bird seed.
Mix Peppers into the Bird Seed
Hot pepper—such as cayenne pepper or chili peppers—is a great squirrel deterrent. Capsaicin, the chemical in peppers that makes them painful to eat, doesn’t affect birds but does affect mammals. When pesky squirrels get a mouthful of cayenne pepper, they’ll learn quickly that this bird food isn’t worth eating.
- Squirrels hate the taste of hot, spicy foods infused with peppers.
- Fill your bird feeder with this spiced feed to drive off squirrels.
- Birds cannot taste spicy foods, so they will be unharmed.
Simply fill your bird feeder with bird seed mixed with hot pepper. There are several brands available that mix spicy ingredients right into the seed. Don’t worry, you won’t harm any birds. Birds don’t have the ability to taste capsaicin, so the bird seed won’t taste spicy at all to them.
Can Squirrels Climb Feeder Poles?
Squirrels are notoriously good at climbing feeder poles and stealing bird seed. Worse than that, squirrels are great jumpers and can leap from a nearby limb onto a hanging feeder. There’s even something known as the 5-7-9 rule which can help you remember how well squirrels jump. They can jump 5 feet in the air, 7 feet sideways, and drop from a height of 9 feet.
- Squirrels are great at climbing feeder poles and jumping onto hanging feeders from trees.
- Squirrels can leap up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) from the ground, so make sure your feeder is higher than this point.
- Remove any tree branch that comes too close to your feeder, to stop squirrels from leaping onto it from the branch.
Because of their skill at climbing and jumping, it takes some careful planning to protect a feeder station. Be sure to scope out the nearest trees to your feeder and perhaps trim overhead limbs.
Why Do Squirrels Climb Bird Feeder Poles?
Squirrels climb to backyard bird feeders because they make for a great food source. Squirrels love to eat and if you’re going to leave free bird food laying around, they want to take advantage.
- Squirrels see bird feeders as an easy, abundant food source.
- Squirrels will not tire of taking bird seed from feeders.
- In fall, squirrels may steal and store bird seed instead of just eating it.
For squirrels, an unprotected bird feeder will become their main food source. They will even take more food than they need and store it in winter. So, squirrels are capable of stealing far more than their share of seed, leaving none for the birds.
How to Keep Squirrels Off Your Bird Feeder Pole
Squirrels will eat every last sunflower seed in your feeder if given the chance. It’s imperative that you protect your feeder pole to prevent them from doing so. Let’s quickly recap the best tips for keeping your bird feed safe from squirrels:
- Squirrel baffles can block squirrels from climbing up a feeder pole.
- A metal slinky works like a baffle to stop climbing squirrels.
- PVC pipe is hard to climb up so it makes a good feeder pole material.
- Feeder cages block off the food source.
- Weight sensors can be used to seal off food when a squirrel climbs onto a feeder
- Buy seed mix with hot peppers to make it taste awful to squirrels—birds can’t taste the spicy peppers.
With these tricks, you’ll easily be able to protect your safflower seeds and suet from squirrels. It may be worth trying a combination of techniques to see which ones work best together.