Saturday, 9 February 2013

Guide About Squirrel proofing your bird feeders

Squirrel proofing your bird feeders

Author: Wild Bird Feeders
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Rewarding as it is, feeding birds in your garden can also become a frustrating responsibility when constantly faced with grey, furry-tailed rodents intent on stealing your shop bought grain. Read on to find out more about squirrel proof bird feeders and some easy tips to follow to prevent squirrels from taking advantage of your generosity towards our feathered friends.

For some, having squirrels present is a welcomed addition to the garden wildlife. However, not only do squirrels possess a fearsome appetite, but they can be quite aggressive when it comes to food. Entire bird seed feeders can be consumed by squirrels and they will often scare away birds in the process. Squirrels can also cause severe damage to bird feeders and are capable of clawing through plastics and wood to get to a source of food.

If you wish to attract birds to your garden you will often need to squirrel proof your bird feeding area. This can be done in a number of ways, but the first place to start is by purchasing a squirrel proof feeder.

Squirrel proof feeders
Stylish but durable, squirrel proof feeders are readily available from retailers and there are a number of different designs available.

Weight activated squirrel proof feeders
Weight activated bird feeders are one of the best options for preventing squirrels from eating your bird feed. When a squirrel lands on the bird-feeding platform, a weight-activated mechanism is stimulated. This closes the feeding port, preventing the squirrel from accessing the grain. The heavier weight of the squirrel distinguishes the squirrel from bird.

Cage style squirrel proof feeders
Many bird feeders feature a cage built to contain the entire feeder. The cage is fitted so that birds can fit through, however squirrels will find it too tight to squeeze through. It is important to choose from a sturdy and durable design, as squirrels are known to try to gnaw at the bars in an effort to retrieve the food. Metal cage feeders offer a durable option at competitive prices. The added function of the cage style feeder is that it can be used to expel larger birds like pigeons.

Hanging a bird feeder from a string and attaching a baffle can prevent squirrels from accessing. Similarly, baffles can also be attached to bird feeding poles or the bottoms of birdhouses to prevent access. Some homeowners use half a plastic drinks bottle in place of a squirrel baffle, however this isn't easy on the eye.

If a bird feeder is erected using a pole then a lubricated substance like petroleum jelly can be used to grease the pole. This can also deter squirrels.

Once you have chosen an adequate squirrel proof seed feeder there are a few things that you need to consider before hanging it:

  • It is recommended that the bird feeder is hung at least 3 meters from potential purchases. i.e. your home, a tree trunk, and other structures as squirrels can use their powerful jump to reach the feeder.
  • Squirrels can jump a meter into the air, so avoid hanging a feeder within a meter and a half of the ground.
  • Be sure to prune any surrounding low hanging branches or bushes within a 3 meter radius.

While squirrels will consume most things, there are some foods that they are less attracted to. Namely, beef suet, safflower, nyjer and thistle seed. By opting to use these food sources you can reduce the appeal to squirrels. However the drawback is that you bird feeder may become less attractive to the birds themselves. A more effective strategy is by adding spice to bird seed. Squirrels are sensitive to spice produced by peppers and chilli. Strong chilli powder or hot pepper sauce can be dusted onto the feed and will cause an uncomfortable burning sensation to squirrels and birds will not notice the added spice.

Scattering additional grain below a feeder will present squirrels with a easier food source and can help to divert squirrels. Squirrels are opportunistic by nature and therefore will almost always choose the easiest route to food.

When indulging in garden bird feeding squirrels can be a pest. Be sure to take the necessary steps to safeguard your bird feeders if you wish to keep your garden a bird friendly zone.
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About the Author
Written by Lynne Dickson, Marketing Manager at Wild Bird Feeders. Wild Bird Feeders is the global leader in garden bird feeders and wild bird feeding. For more information all about birds, please visit