The 5-7-9 Rule That'll Help Keep Squirrels Out Of Your Bird Feeder

Imagine this scenario: You're enjoying your morning coffee, watching birds flutter around your backyard, and then — a squirrel appears. Not just any squirrel, but a sneaky little opportunist who has decided that the bird feeder in your yard is now their personal buffet. Frustrating, right?

While most people hang bird feeders in trees close to their houses to enjoy a closer view of the birds, this well-intentioned decision often backfires. Positioning feeders near trees or your house provides squirrels an easy route to the food since they can leap from branches or even your roof. The 5-7-9 rule is here to save your birdseed (and your sanity). It essentially means you should keep your bird feeder 5 feet away from any horizontally located structures, 7 feet up from the ground, and 9 feet below any above structures.

Squirrels can be incredibly entertaining, but they can drive homeowners up the wall when they start raiding bird feeders and baths. Bird seed is a tasty, highly nutritious treat for these critters. And if you have a feeder with an easy-to-access platform or dish, then the squirrels may think the food is being served up on a silver platter. They eat all the bird food, scare away our feathered friends, and may even cause damage to the feeders themselves.

What is the 5-7-9 rule?

First, let's tackle the number 5. Squirrels are impressive jumpers, capable of leaping up to 5 feet horizontally. To keep squirrels out of your bird feeder, ensure it is at least 5 feet away from any tree branches, fences, or structures they could use as a launchpad. This simple step will drastically reduce the chances of a squirrel making it to your feeder.

Next, we have the number 7. This part of the rule addresses squirrels' vertical leaping prowess. These little critters can jump up to 7 feet from the ground. Therefore, your bird feeder should be placed at least 7 feet high. This elevation will keep the feeder out of reach from squirrels' ground-bound jumps, making it much harder for them to access the birdseed.

Lastly, the number 9 comes into play. Squirrels can also perform remarkable aerial maneuvers by jumping down from above. To counter this, make sure your bird feeder is at least 9 feet below any overhanging branches or structures. This means that even if a squirrel manages to climb high up, they won't be able to drop down onto your feeder.

What else should you consider when squirrel-proofing your birdfeeder?

But wait, there's more to this squirrel-proofing saga. Another essential guideline to consider is the placement of your birdbaths and feeders relative to your house. You have two main options here. First, you can place them within 3 feet of a window. This might seem counterintuitive, but it prevents birds from gaining enough speed to hurt themselves if they fly into the glass. Surprisingly, this close distance can also make it harder for squirrels to access your bird feeders since they won't have enough space to gather momentum for their jumps. 

On the other hand, placing feeders more than 30 feet away from your house gives birds ample space to fly without any risk of crashing into your home. It also provides more room for you to implement the 5-7-9 rule effectively. By maintaining this distance, you create a safer environment for birds while simultaneously making it more challenging for squirrels to reach the feeders. You can also always buy a squirrel-proof bird feeder, but it is always best to combine different methods for the greatest effectiveness.