There’s nothing worse in birding than setting up food for your beautiful backyard birds and then watching marauding squirrels come by and steal it. One of the best-known and most effective ways to prevent squirrels from getting their paws on the birds’ food is by literally baffling them, through the use of a baffle. With that in mind, read on for some helpful info on baffles to help you get the most out of them.
There are two general types of baffles that are used to thwart squirrels, one that goes above the feeder and one that goes below the feeder. The top baffle is primarily used with hanging feeders but can be used with pole feeders, while the bottom baffle is exclusively used on pole feeders. Top baffles are generally dome-shaped but can also be simply sloped enough to send squirrels sliding, while bottom baffles are usually shaped like either a lampshade or a cylinder. Whichever kind of baffle is being used, their intended effect is the same – if they work as they’re supposed to, squirrels can’t do anything to get around them.
There’s no standard size for a baffle, either top or bottom. Many will say top baffles should be around 15 or 16 inches across, but as long as the baffle is wide enough that it’s an impediment for squirrels on a particular feeder, it should do the trick. The vast majority of baffles are made of smooth plastic or metal, which ensures that squirrels won’t be able to get the grip they need to traverse the obstacle. In addition, some of the top baffles that aren’t joined to the feeder are designed to move along with the squirrel rather than be stationary. This way, as the squirrel is feeling its way around the smooth surface, the baffle is also tipping and spinning in a further effort to throw the squirrel off. Bottom baffles, being attached to the pole on which the feeder is mounted, generally don’t move but still present a formidable impediment to squirrels that attempt climbing the pole.
The question, of course, is which kind of baffle should you get – top or bottom? That’s an question only you can answer, but luckily, answering it isn’t overly difficult. All you have to do is observe – for what you deem to be a long enough period of time – which way squirrels in your yard seem to be most given to stealing your birds’ food. If they’re primarily shimmying up feeder poles, a pole with a bottom baffle would be your best choice. But if the squirrels are hopping out of the trees or other high places and scurrying down feeders to take the food, you’re going to need a top baffle to stop them in their tracks.
Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be baffling squirrels like a pro in no time. Happy birding!
- By Sean Peick (Guest Writer)
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