There’s nothing worse when bird feeding than setting up food for your beautiful backyard birds and 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.
Baffles are easy to use and stop squirrels from visiting your bird feeders. With that in mind, read on for some helpful information on baffles to help you get the most out of them. There are two types of baffles 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 and can be used with pole feeders, while the bottom baffle is exclusively used on pole feeders.
Top baffles are generally dome-shaped and can also be sloped enough to send squirrels sliding, while bottom baffles are often shaped like a lampshade or a cylinder. See the photos to the left for examples of each.
Whichever kind of baffle is being used, their intended effect is the same: to keep squirrels off bird feeders. When baffles work as they’re supposed to, squirrels can’t do anything to get around them.
There’s no standard size for a baffle, whether it’s a top or bottom baffle. Many people say top baffles should measure around 15 or 16 inches across. 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 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 remain stationary. This way, as the squirrel is feeling its way around the smooth surface, the baffle is also tipping and bobbing in an effort to throw off the squirrel.
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 attempting to climb the pole.
The question, of course, is which kind of baffle should you get: top or bottom? That’s a question only you can answer, but luckily, answering it isn’t difficult. All you have to do is observe–for what you deem to be a long enough period of time during which you pay attention to 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 any 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!
— Written by guest writer Sean Peick