Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders

By Delene Sholes
Well-fed squirrel
Johnny Wilkinson, Flickr, Creative Commons

Avid bird watchers enjoy feeding and watching birds in their yards, but keeping squirrels out of the bird feeders can become a full-time job. Squirrels are persistent in their intention to make off with food intended for birds. It's easy for them to climb trees or poles, perch on limbs and jump down to raid bird feeders, but you can beat them by trying one or more of these ideas.

A baffle is a dome-shaped piece of plastic that can be placed over or under your bird feeder. If your feeder is hanging from a tree, when a squirrel jumps from a tree branch onto the dome, he will quickly slide off. If the feeder is at the top of a pole, place the dome under the feeder. When the squirrel attempts to get to the feeder, he will not be able to get past the dome.

If you hang your bird feeder from a tree with rope, make it hard for squirrels to jump from the tree or the ground onto the feeder. Hang it as far away from the trunk as possible, and on the end of a branch big enough to hold the feeder, but too small for the squirrel to run across. Hang it at least four feet above the ground to prevent the squirrel from jumping to the feeder from the ground.

Use a squirrel repellent that contains cayenne pepper. The pepper will not harm the birds, but may deter the squirrels. Information from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, in an article titled "Strategies for making Bird Feeders that feed only birds," is that cayenne pepper is safe for birds, but doesn't always deter squirrels. According to the article the best way to use cayenne pepper to deter squirrels is to include it in a suet mix. Suet is made with lard, peanut butter, meal, flour, and other ingredients.

Squirrels love dried corn, and may stay away from your birds if you provide it for them. Purchase the corn in large bags and place several ears away from the bird feeders. You can purchase squirrel feeders that hold corn or make your own. Use a piece of wood about 6 x 6 inches. Drive a couple of long nails through the board so they protrude on the other side. Space the nails far enough apart so you can push an ear of corn into each protruding nail. Attach the feeder to a tree or structure.

If your bird feeder is on top of a pole, make sure it is long enough to reach four feet above the ground and away from any trees, fences, or structures that could become a launching pad for squirrels. You can try greasing the pole with some vegetable oil that won't hurt the animals. When a squirrel tries to climb the pole, he will slide down the oily pole to the ground.


Things You Will Need

  • Depending on which tip or tips you use, here are some materials that you may need.
  • Squirrel baffle
  • Rope
  • Squirrel repellent
  • Dried corn
  • Pole

About the Author


DeLene Sholes has written hundreds of articles for print and online books, newspapers, and magazines including Florida Wildlife, Atlanta's Points North, and Faces magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Birmingham-Southern College and a Master of Arts in elementary education from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.