How to Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders(15 Methods & DIY)

Squirrels are a common problem for bird lovers. They can quickly devour all the food in a bird feeder, leaving the birds hungry. There are several reasons why you might want to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders. Perhaps you enjoy watching the birds, or maybe you’re concerned about the health of the birds. 

Using a squirrel-proof feeder or a baffle, slinky in the pole, or cayenne pepper are the most popular methods whereas some DIY ways can also deter squirrels from eating the food.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most effective methods for deterring squirrels from bird feeders. 

Squirrels and bird feeders (Habits, Challenges to Pose)

Squirrels are common backyard visitors, and they can be a nuisance when they start raiding bird feeders. Squirrels are very good climbers, and they can easily reach bird feeders that are hung from trees or poles. They are also very persistent, and they will often return to the same feeder even if they have been chased away.

Squirrels are very good at climbing, and they can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They can store up to 100 pounds of food in their nests. Squirrels are very social animals, and they live in groups called drays. They may appear cute and harmless, but their behavior and habits can cause quite a commotion around bird feeders.

Squirrels are also very good at storing food for the winter. They will bury nuts and seeds in the ground, and they will also build nests to store food in.

Did you know that squirrels have a voracious appetite? They can eat all of the food, making it difficult for birds to get any. They can also make a mess, scattering food on the ground and leaving droppings behind. Squirrels can also damage bird feeders, chewing on them or knocking them over.

Squirrels and bird feeders
Image by Jasmin777 from Pixabay

Common methods to keep squirrels away from bird feeders

1. Physical barriers

  • Squirrel baffles: These are devices that are placed around bird feeders to prevent squirrels from climbing up to them. They can be made of metal, plastic, or wood.
  • Cages: These can be placed around bird feeders to completely enclose them, preventing squirrels from getting to the food.
  • Domes: These are similar to cages, but they are dome-shaped and have a hole in the top for birds to enter.

2. Feeder placement

  • Place feeders in areas that are difficult for squirrels to climb, such as hanging from trees or on a high fence.
  • Avoid placing feeders near trees or other objects that squirrels can use to jump or climb up to them.
  • If you have to place a feeder on the ground, make sure it is weighted down so that squirrels cannot tip it over.

3. Anti-squirrel feeders

  • There are a variety of specialized feeders available that are designed to exclude squirrels. These feeders often have features that make it difficult for squirrels to access food, such as narrow openings or spinning disks.

4. Seed selection

5. Spices and repellents

  • There are several natural deterrents that you can use around bird feeders to keep squirrels away. These include cayenne pepper, black pepper, mothballs, and peppermint oil.
  • Be sure to read the label carefully and follow the instructions when using any type of repellent. Some repellents can be harmful to birds and other wildlife.

6. Minimize squirrel interference

  • One option is to use a squirrel-proof feeder. 
  • Another option is to place your feeders in a location that is difficult for squirrels to reach, such as high up in a tree.

7. Apply Vaseline

Take some Vaseline and spread it on the poles or any surfaces that squirrels can climb to reach your bird feeders. The Vaseline makes the surface slippery, making it hard for squirrels to grip and climb up. By making the poles slippery with Vaseline, squirrels will have a tough time getting a grip and reaching the bird feeders. It acts as a barrier that discourages them from trying to climb up.

8. Other methods

  • Squirrels are attracted to food, so it is important to clean up any spills or messes immediately.
  • Squirrels are creatures of habit, so moving your feeder around will make it more difficult for them to find it.
Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders

How to keep squirrels out of bird feeders (DIY Methods)

How to stop squirrels from climbing bird feeder poles using a slinky

To use a Slinky to prevent squirrels from climbing poles, simply wrap the Slinky around the pole. The Slinky will make it difficult for the squirrel to grip the pole and climb up.

PVC pipe baffles

To construct PVC pipe baffles, you will need:

  • PVC pipe
  • PVC pipe connectors
  • Screws
  • Drill

Cut the PVC pipe to the desired length. Then, connect the pieces of pipe using the PVC pipe connectors. Screw the connectors in place. Finally, drill holes in the baffles to allow the birds to access the food.

Hot pepper suet

To make a homemade squirrel-repellent suet, you will need:

  • 1 cup suet
  • 1/4 cup cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

Melt the suet in a double boiler. Then, stir in the cayenne pepper and peanut butter. Pour the mixture into a mold and let it cool. Once the suet has cooled, hang it from a tree or other location where birds can access it.


Most people use oil as a home remedy to keep squirrels away from bird feeders. See the tweet below. But I don’t recommend using oil on a pole to deter squirrels. It is not an effective way to keep squirrels away and could potentially harm them. 

Squirrels are very agile and can easily climb up a pole that is covered in oil. In addition, the oil could get on the squirrels’ fur and make it difficult for them to stay warm.

Harmful methods of repelling squirrels from bird feeder

  • Glue and other adhesives: These methods can cause squirrels to become stuck and injured.
  • Poison: Poisoning squirrels is cruel and can also be harmful to other animals, such as birds and pets.
  • Petroleum jelly or grease: These substances can cause squirrels to become injured or sick.

Squirrel-Resistant Bird Feeders and Accessories

When choosing a squirrel-resistant bird feeder or accessory, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • The type of birds you want to attract: Some feeders are designed for specific types of birds, such as hummingbirds or finches.
  • The size of the feeder: Some feeders are large enough to hold a lot of food, while others are smaller and more portable.
  • The price: Squirrel-resistant bird feeders can range in price from a few dollars to over $100.

Here are some of the most popular squirrel-resistant bird feeders with poles:

  • Droll Yankees Squirrel-Proof Seed Feeder: This feeder has a weighted base and a rotating perch that makes it difficult for squirrels to reach the food. It also has a small opening that prevents squirrels from getting their paws inside.
  • Wild Birds Unlimited Squirrel-Buster Plus Bird Feeder: This feeder has several features that make it difficult for squirrels to access the food, including a spinning disk, a baffle, and a weighted base. 
  • Perky-Pet Squirrel-Be-Gone Bird Feeder: This feeder has a unique design that makes it difficult for squirrels to reach the food. The feeder is shaped like a dome, with a small opening at the top. The opening is just large enough for birds to enter, but too small for squirrels.

Learn More: How to Keep Bats Away from Hummingbird Feeders in 10 Ways

How to choose suitable bird food

Choose the right type of food. Different types of birds prefer different types of food, so it is important to choose a variety of foods to attract a variety of birds. Some popular bird foods include sunflower seeds, millet, nyjer, and suet.

Buy high-quality food. It is important to buy high-quality bird food. This will help to ensure that your birds are healthy and that the food will not spoil quickly.

Store the food properly. Bird food should be stored in a cool, dry place. This will help to prevent it from spoiling and attracting pests.

Alternative Ways to Divert Squirrels

Squirrel feeding stations: You can provide a separate feeding station for squirrels away from your bird feeders. This will give them a place to get their food without bothering the birds.

Distraction techniques: You can use decoy feeders or other squirrel-attracting tactics to distract squirrels from your bird feeders. For example, you could hang a decoy feeder filled with peanuts near your bird feeder. The squirrels will be more likely to go for the decoy feeder, leaving your bird feeder alone.

Planting squirrel-friendly gardens: You can plant squirrel-friendly plants in your garden, away from your bird feeders. This will give the squirrels a place to find food and shelter without bothering the birds. Some plants that squirrels prefer include acorns, beech nuts, hickory nuts, and walnuts.

Study on squirrels steal food from bird feeders

A study in England found that gray squirrels eat about half of the food from bird feeders. The study was conducted by placing video cameras in gardens. The footage showed that birds would not go near a feeder if a squirrel was present.

Even if a squirrel wasn’t present, birds were less likely to visit a feeder that was frequently visited by squirrels. Squirrels consume a larger amount of food on each visit than birds because of their size. Squirrels were less likely to go after caged feeders with seeds in them because they prefer nuts.


Squirrel’s Impact on bird populations

Two recent studies have found that grey squirrels do not have a significant impact on bird populations in the UK. The first study, conducted by the British Trust for Ornithology and Natural England, looked at data from across England. The second study, conducted by Bonnington et al., looked at data from urban areas.

Both studies found that woodland coverage and quantity have the biggest influence on the diversity and size of bird populations. There is no evidence that grey squirrel’s presence can have a significant effect on the diversity and size of bird populations.

The presence of grey squirrels was positively related to the diversity and population size of birds most vulnerable to predation. The studies did not look at the positive effect on the bird population of forest regeneration by squirrels.


Best practices for maintaining a bird-friendly environment

  • Plant native plants. Native plants provide food and shelter for birds, and they also help to attract other wildlife, such as butterflies and bees.
  • Provide water. Birds need water to drink and bathe, so it is important to provide a source of water for them. You can do this by placing a birdbath in your yard or by leaving out a shallow dish of water.
  • Create a habitat. Birds are attracted to areas that provide food, water, and shelter. You can create a habitat for birds by planting native plants, providing water, and adding birdhouses to your yard.


The best way to deter squirrels is to use a combination of methods and be consistent with them. If you only use one method, the squirrels may eventually figure out how to get around it. It may take some time for the squirrels to get the message and stop visiting your bird feeders. Don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately.


Does aluminum foil keep squirrels away from bird feeders?

Yes, aluminum foil can deter squirrels from bird feeders. The shiny surface of the foil may startle squirrels and make them hesitant to approach the feeder. Additionally, the crinkling sound of the foil may be annoying to squirrels.

Will cayenne pepper keep squirrels away from bird feeders?

Yes, Cayenne pepper is a natural repellent that can deter squirrels from bird feeders. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper is hot and spicy, and it can irritate the squirrels’ noses and eyes. This will make them uncomfortable and less likely to approach the feeder.

The ratio of cayenne pepper to birdseed

The amount of cayenne pepper you need to use will depend on the type of birdseed you are using. A good rule of thumb is to start with a ratio of 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 1 cup of birdseed.

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