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BirdseedFeeding Wild BirdsBird Feeder Care • Squirrels

squirrel hanging on a bird feeder Most people find squirrel antics entertaining, but they can be pesky creatures around bird feeders!  Squirrels are inherently curious and intelligent, and they can eat the contents of a bird feeder quickly, once they discover it and figure out how to access it.  Furthermore, they will repeat the process again and again unless you deny them access to the feeder.  There are techniques you can use, however, to help keep your bird feeder free of squirrels.

First, it is well to understand a squirrel's agility and physical capabilities.  The are able to jump straight up from the ground, about five feet high.  They can also jump laterally a distance of about ten feet.  If a squirrel is perched on a tree branch above a bird feeder, he can sometimes jump even longer distances to reach his object!  When food is scarce during the cold winter months, these resourceful rodents will make a determined effort to reach any available food.

One popular squirrel deterrent method is to mount your bird feeder on a pole, away from nearby trees, and surround the pole with a squirrel baffle.  Locate the pole-mounted feeder at least 12 feet away, horizontally, from the nearest tree branches.  Install a sturdy mounting pole, digging a hole for it if your soil is hard or rocky, then fasten a smooth, cylindrical baffle around the pole, at least five feet above ground level.  Use a mounting bracket for the baffle, and tighten its screws around the pole.  Install your feeder (or feeders) at least one foot above the baffle's highest point.  Squirrels will have difficulty climbing the pole, and the smooth baffle surface will thwart their attempts to reach the bird feeder.  They may try to reach the feeder at first, but they will stop trying when they realize their efforts are in vain.

If you don't have space for a pole-mounted bird feeder, or if you prefer other mounting options, you may prefer a feeder that is surrounded by a protective mesh cage.  The rectangular mesh openings are too small for squirrels to pass through but they are large enough for small birds.

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Squirrel-Proofing Bird Feeders

acrobatic squirrel hanging upside down from a bird feeder
Acrobatic Squirrel on a Bird Feeder

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