There are many bird feeders that claim they are squirrel-proof, but what does that mean, exactly? Most of the time it means that although a squirrel can get on the feeder, he can’t damage it and he won’t be able to get to the food. Feeders like this do serve their purpose and work for a lot of people. Squirrel-proof feeders combined with diversion feeding (feeding the squirrel in another location), are often all you’ll need if your squirrel problem isn’t serious. Some good squirrel-proof feeders are the Absolute II, Duncraft’s Squirrel-Proof Selective and the Yankee Flipper.
But if you have lots of super-smart squirrels, the fact remains that as long as a squirrel is able to get on a feeder, he still may find a way to disable or work around the mechanisms that are designed to keep him out, including spinning perches, perches that drop with his weight, or cages around tube feeders. And even if the squirrel can’t figure out the feeder, the birds are going to stay away as long as he’s on it.
The only true way to squirrel-proof a feeder is simply to prevent him from getting onto the feeder in the first place. And not letting the squirrel have access to the feeder serves another purpose—the birds won’t be scared away and can dine in peace.
The best way to squirrel-proof a feeder is to put it up on a pole, at least 10 feet (more is better) from any buildings, fences or trees that he can jump from. Squirrels can sometimes jump horizontally as far as 15 feet! Don’t believe it? Watch this fun video!
And squirrels can jump about 5 feet straight up from the ground. So, the bottom of your feeder has to be 5 feet up from the ground. Next, you’ll need to stop the squirrel from climbing the pole. The best way to do this is with a canister type baffle placed on the pole. The Squirrel Stopper System is a bird feeding pole that includes a baffle as well as the height you need to make your feeders truly squirrel-proof. Otherwise, Duncraft’s Heavy Duty Sectional pole or Quad or Double Hangers work well, as long as they are equipped with a baffle such as the Squirrel Guard.
The second best way to squirrel-proof your feeders is to string a strong wire between two trees. The bottoms of the feeders hanging on the wires should be at least 5 feet up from the ground. Now you’ll need to find a way to prevent squirrels from crawling along the wire. Some people use a series of coffee cans or 2 liter pop bottles with a hole punched in the bottom and strung along the wire. They’ll spin when a squirrel jumps on them. Keep them close enough together that the squirrel can’t jump onto the wire in between. The main drawback to hanging feeders in this fashion is that they can be hard to fill unless you have devised some method for lowering the wire. If that is not a problem, this is a good way to bear-proof your feeders too.
Squirrel-proofing is really quite simple—make sure the squirrel can’t access the feeder from above or below and your squirrel problem will be solved!