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Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder

After months of attempts and (occasionally) spectacular failures, one of the backyard squirrels managed to climb aboard the bird feeder:

Squirrel on bird feeder

Squirrel on bird feeder

The shutter closes when more than two cardinals and a titmouse perch on the wood bar, so the squirrel didn’t get anything. However, back in 2008, one of that critter’s ancestors mastered the trick:

Not a Squirrel-Proof Feeder

Not a Squirrel-Proof Feeder

Since then, I’ve raised the feeder about five feet and inverted a big pot over two feet of loose PVC pipe around the pole.

Given the number of squirrel-training videos on Youtube, however, it’s only a matter of time until the critters put all the tricks together!

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  1. #1 by madbodger on 2017-03-04 - 08:10

    I’ve taken to suspending my feeders from music wire strung between trees. The squirrels seem disinclined to try to tightrope walk on music wire, but they’re smart and persistent. The birds don’t seem to care, even when the feeder sways a good bit.

    • #2 by Ed on 2017-03-04 - 09:48

      The suet feeder hangs at the end of two feet of wrought-iron bracket sticking out from a steel column welded into the wrought iron patio railing. The squirrels can’t quite climb up the column, but can occasionally jump from the railing and stick onto the feeder. Raccoons, on the other paw, have absolutely no trouble at all cleaning the thing out.

      It’s amazing what you’ll do for food!

  2. #3 by Keith Ward on 2017-03-04 - 10:44

    We have a similar feeder that has a adjustable shutter on two sides. Years ago, I added a piece of 1/2″ hardware cloth in the bottom that acts as a governor to keep birds from slinging out too much that just rains to the ground, especially if the mix contains millet. It has held up well and does a great job. Surprisingly, we have never had problems with squirrels since we don’t have any nut-bearing trees, but adding this to similar feeders might help slow things down from squirrels and raccoons.

    • #4 by Ed on 2017-03-04 - 14:07

      That’s a good idea! Nuthatches seem particularly messy feeders; we think the squirrels bribe them to unload the feeder onto the patio, a few seeds at a time.

      • #5 by Keith Ward on 2017-03-04 - 14:25

        Eventually we switched over to black oil sunflower only to get away from the millet, but the h/w cloth still works well. If you make it, and your feeder is like ours, the shape of the h/w cloth is sort of like a used/clinched staple for paper, in that it is bent back on itself on two ends to fill in the gap where the food is presented, but with enough to allow it to flow.

      • #6 by RCPete on 2017-03-05 - 12:12

        Steller’s Jays are even worse; they’ll go for the sunflower seeds in the mix and throw the rest on the ground. OTOH, it feeds the quail; a bunch (anywhere from 4 to 30) of them around the feeder is a wonderful sight..

  3. #7 by RCPete on 2017-03-04 - 12:12

    After a squirrel tried to steal one feeder (chewed the rope from a tree and tried to haul off the feeder), I’ve had to get creative.

    The current feeder is about 5.5″ above ground, (lower and it’s a doable leap from the deck handrail), with a disk (from the farm supply) to act as a barrier. Couldn’t find a disk big enough to stop a sufficiently motivated squirrel, so I sheathed the pole with 4″ aluminum ducting. It’s too smooth to climb and too big to shinny.

    The suet basket is now set up for small and medium birds. Pigeons have to scrounge the fallout, but the finches, nuthatches and sparrows love it. Scrub jays stand on the stick and lean down to eat the top of the suet. It’s awkward to fill the feeder, but it’s big enough so that I don’t have to do it that often.

  4. #8 by david on 2017-03-04 - 16:08

    I Was Told (TM) that only mammals can taste capsaicin, so if you mix the birdseed with a heavy dose of chili flakes, the birds won’t care but the squirrels will. I haven’t tried it myself…

    • #9 by Ed on 2017-03-04 - 18:37

      We should apply that to the suet feeder, where the raccoons can spiral into the ground in flames.

      When the turkey flock scratches around in the herb garden, we always wonder if they’re self-seasoning birds…

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