If Squirrels Are Stealing Food From Your Bird Feeder, Try This

As a bird lover, little is more frustrating than stocking up your bird feeders with carefully selected and purchased goods, and patiently waiting for your regular flock to fly by, only to watch squirrels raid your feeders in seconds. Known for their acrobatics, squirrels have insatiable appetites and can empty your bird feeder in a few short hours. However, one strategic way to get them to back down and keep squirrels out of your bird feeder is to give them their own squirrel feeder.

Believe it or not, despite being small, squirrels are big eaters. In just a week, they can consume one and a half pounds of nuts and seeds and that is just about how much they weigh. They primarily feast on nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi, but occasionally indulge in insects and small animals. When storing up for the winter, squirrels can bury 10,000 nuts during the fall season, so you can see why they so voraciously seek out food. It's also necessary because they can lose a quarter of their body weight during cold winters.

How a squirrel feeder can help

The idea of giving a squirrel their own feeder is based on distraction and redirection. By providing squirrels with their own designated food source, you can potentially reduce their interest in overtaking your bird feeders. When squirrels realize there's a reliable and easily accessible food source specifically for them, they might be less inclined to go through the trouble of trying fervently to get into your bird feeders, especially when they are too small or cumbersome, or have squirrel baffles attached to them. Squirrel baffles are cone or dome-shaped devices used to prevent squirrels from accessing bird feeders. These are typically installed on the pole below the feeder, creating a physical barrier that makes it difficult for squirrels to climb up and reach the bird seed.

The thought is that the squirrels will naturally go to the feeder that is easier to get into, with plentiful amounts of the types of food that squirrels naturally love. Also, with their own food source, squirrels may focus less on competing with birds at your bird feeders. This can lead to more peaceful feeding sessions for your feathered friends and increase the chances of attracting a wider variety of birds. You can also feed the squirrels less expensive food.

How to set up a squirrel feeder

Place the squirrel feeder a good distance away from your bird feeders. This encourages squirrels to view it as a separate food source and not an extension of the bird feeding area. There are various squirrel feeder designs available. Options include platform feeders, corn cob holders, and feeders specifically designed with squirrel-friendly features. Choose a feeder that is durable and easy for squirrels to access. Offer squirrel favorites like peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn, and special squirrel food mixes. Avoid spicy food mixtures intended to deter squirrels, as these can be harmful.

It's important to have realistic expectations because a squirrel feeder is not a foolproof solution, and some persistent squirrels may still try to eat at your bird feeders. It helps to combine a squirrel feeder with other squirrel-proofing techniques like baffles, slippery poles, and weight-sensitive bird feeders for maximum effectiveness.

Embracing the idea of a squirrel feeder is also a way to appreciate the diverse wildlife in your backyard and foster a more balanced environment. While it may not eliminate squirrel visits to your bird feeders entirely, it's a step toward a more harmonious bird-watching experience, and over time, you might just come to appreciate squirrels.