How to Deter Squirrels from Bird Feeders

Three Methods:Using a BaffleUsing Different FeedKeeping Squirrels Away Safely

Squirrels can make themselves a real pain when it comes to birdseed and suet. They will also destroy plastic and wooden feeders. Stop these rascals from being regular guests at your feeders with a few simple changes and precautions.

Method 1
Using a Baffle

  1. Image titled Deter Squirrels from Bird Feeders Step 1
    Hang your bird feeder from a pole or post. Try to make sure the post is away from areas the squirrels could access it from above, like long tree branches or fence edges. Give a clearance of about 8-10 feet from these things.[1]
    • The baffle will go on the bottom half of the post, to keep squirrels from accessing the feeders from the ground. So, making sure they don’t have access from the top is important if you want the baffle to work.
    • Bowl-shaped baffles can go on top of the feeder pole to keep out squirrels, but these baffles don’t do so well keeping out other critters, like raccoons. If raccoons aren’t a problem where you live, then a bowl-shaped baffle will probably work fine.
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    Buy a baffle from a yard supply store. You can purchase pre-made baffles from hardware or yard supply stores, and even some of the big box department stores. You can also buy them online.
    • Make sure you buy the type of baffle you want—a cone or dome-shaped baffle to go over top of the feeder, or a cylindrical baffle to attach below the feeder on the post.
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    Make your own baffle. With stovepipe, a stovepipe cap, metal screws, and a hose clamp, you can make your own cylindrical baffle for your feeder pole. Simply drill a hole big enough for the feeder pole in the stovepipe end cap, screw the end cap into the stovepipe to secure it, slide the stovepipe onto the pole and clip the hose clamp below it. Let the stovepipe rest on the clamp.[2]
    • You’ll need a drill to make your own baffle, so if you don’t have any power tools, your best option is to buy a pre-made baffle.

Method 2
Using Different Feed

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    Avoid using feed that attracts squirrels. Safflower seeds and thistle seeds, for example, will attract all different kinds of birds, while squirrels are not interested in them. Squirrels love feed such as cracked corn, nuts, and sunflower seeds, so keep these out of your feeders to help deter the squirrels.[3]
    • Try to avoid using capsaicin, or hot pepper additive, in your bird seed. It has been known to irritate squirrels’ digestive systems to the point of being painful and harmful, so it isn’t as humane of an option as others.
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    Use a bird seed mix that contains white proso millet seed. If there is enough of this kind of seed in the mix, it will deter the squirrels, as they aren’t fans of it. It helps attract species of birds like house finches, as well as mourning doves.[4]
    • Changing what you’re feeding the birds is a great way to keep the squirrels out without doing harm to one species or the other.
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    Give the squirrels their own feed and feeding area. Since they’re relatively territorial, the squirrels will likely mark the new feeding spot as theirs, and begin to feed there exclusively. This might not be the most ideal solution as you will still have squirrels in the yard, but they might leave the bird feeder alone.[5]
    • If you have a front and a back yard, put one feeder in each yard. This will keep the birds and squirrels more separate.

Method 3
Keeping Squirrels Away Safely

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    Try hanging candy canes from your bird feeder. The peppermint doesn’t bother the birds, so they will keep coming. The squirrels, on the other hand, will be confused by the smell and sight of the candy, so they’ll lose interest in the feed and leave.[6]
    • Make sure you use full size candy canes, and don’t crush them into small pieces. You don’t want to risk giving the birds—or any other critters—anything they might choke on.
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    Avoid catching or trapping the squirrels. By trapping and moving them to a different place, your problem won’t be solved. All this will do is cause squirrels to take up residence in a new place, while other squirrels still bother your feeder.[7]
    • You also run the risk of injuring the squirrels, or even other animals, by setting out traps for them.
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    Avoid using anything to make your feeder pole more slick. Things like oil or gel to keep squirrels from being able to climb the feeder pole are dangerous for the birds you are trying to attract and feed. A little bit of gel or anything with petroleum in it on a bird’s feathers can actually cause the bird to die.[8]
    • Using a baffle is a much safer and humane way to keep squirrels from climbing up your feeder pole.
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    Use a feeder that doesn’t allow squirrels to feed. Some feeders are made specifically to keep squirrels out. They usually rely on the principle that squirrels weigh more than birds, and won’t be able to perch on the feeder.[9]
    • You can also put a mesh cage around the feeder. Birds can still get the seed out but the squirrels won’t be able to reach it.


  • Aim to remove the squirrels in the most humane way possible.


  • Always avoid injuring the squirrels in any way.

Article Info

Categories: Feeding Birds