Squirrels: Feed Them or Defeat Them?

By August 28, 2013Bird-friendly Living, Partners

A wide variety of people love to feed a wide variety of birds, and these nature-lovers, in turn, have a wide variety of attitudes about squirrels. I have talked to folks who want the best recipe for squirrel stew and others who want to know how to keep the blue jays out of the squirrel feeder. In my own yard, my approach has been birds eat from bird feeders, squirrels eat from squirrel feeders, and I admonish them not to bother each other. Sometimes that works.


Squirrel at feeder by Kate Ter Haar

Defeating squirrels first requires a positive attitude (“Aha, a fun challenge!”) and a caring attitude (do no harm). Next, find out how good those furry filchers are at getting into the bird feeder. Some squirrels are more street-wise than others. Then, understand that a healthy critter may be able to jump 4 feet vertically and 8 feet horizontally.

The method you should use to baffle the squirrels depends upon the type of bird feeder. A tube-type feeder in a tree with a dome-type baffle may do the trick. Don’t use a tray on the feeder; it will be used as a squirrel chair. A wooden hopper-style feeder or tube-type feeder can be placed on a pole 10 feet from trees, fences and the roof of the house. Add a baffle to the pole with the top of the baffle at about 5 feet above the ground. A baffle can be a metal stovepipe with a top, a metal or plastic cone, or a plastic trash can lid with a hole in the center for the pole.

Taking a Swing

Taking a swing by waferboard

Some feeders are inherently squirrel-proof. These may have a built-in baffle or dome, a device that closes the feeder under the weight of a squirrel, or a cage that surrounds a tube feeder to keep the critters out. Inspect caged feeders carefully. Some caged feeders are not designed properly to keep squirrels out or prevent damage by the squirrel.

Avoid using hot tasting additives to the seed to discourage the squirrels. These may harm the critters, as well as birds, pets and people. They’re not necessary, and there are better ways to defeat squirrels.

Above all, enjoy your birds, enjoy your squirrels and enjoy the natural world around you.

~ Scott Menough, Owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Denver

Scott and his wife, Sandy, own the Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop at 2720 S. Wadsworth Blvd. in Denver. WBU stores specialize in bird feeders, bird baths, houses, field guides, nature-related gifts, binoculars and quality seed blends. Call us at 303-987-1065 with questions.

Other WBU Front Range locations:

  • Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada – 7370 W. 88th Ave.
  • Wild Birds Unlimited of Fort Collins – 3636 S. College Ave.

Find us at www.WildBirdsColorado.com.

BirdTalk migrating to noon! Tune in to David and Scott Menough at noon on Saturdays for BirdTalk Radio on 710 KNUS. They will broadcast live from their stores in Arvada and Denver.

Learn more about bird-friendly living.