Having a bird feeder that attracts the local bird population can give you hours of pleasure. The only problem is that birds aren't the only thing that are attracted by the bird seed. Along with finches and bluebirds come squirrels. These pesky, over sized rodents will steal all the seed they can, and can do serious harm to your feeder, if measures aren't taken to deter them. Below are five humane ways to discourage squirrels from using your bird feeder as their personal dinner tray.
Feed Them Away From the Bird Feeder
Since attempting to keep squirrels away from the bird feeder is easier said than done, the easiest and most effective way to keep the squirrels away from your bird seed is to give them food of their own. Some of squirrel's favorite foods are walnuts, pecans, and sunflower seeds. If you set up a platform feeder, giving them plenty of room to sit, and fill it with raw pecans, walnuts, some sunflower seeds and a little bit of corn, it won't be too long before the squirrels mark that territory and protect it as their own, forgetting about your bird feeders all together.
Place Your Bird Feeder Out of Reach
Getting a bird feeder out of reach of squirrels is easier said than done. These furry friends can jump up quite far, both vertically and horizontally. They are also clever and will jump from things you might have no realized they could use.
By placing the bird feeder at least ten feet from any available surface, squirrels won't have a starting point to jump from. This means all surfaces, including shrubs and posts. Having ten feet of air around the bird feeder should eventually discourage the squirrels and they will eventually leave the bird feeder alone.
Use a Squirrel Baffle
Since having a ten foot area of air around the bird feeder may not be possible, an effective way to keep squirrels away from the feeder is by using a squirrel baffle. A baffle is a dome structure that sits over top of the bird feeder. When the squirrel jumps towards the bird feeder the baffle, which is made of either a smooth metal or plexiglass, prevents the squirrel from reaching the feeder. The squirrel has nothing to grab onto and slides gently to the ground.
Additives to the Feed
Squirrels are fond of certain seeds, and safflower seeds are not one of them. Changing the seed in your bird feeder out to safflower may deter the squirrels, but doesn't do anything to deter the birds. Adding small amounts of hot pepper or cayenne to your bird seed will also discourage the squirrels without hurting the birds. One tablespoon of cayenne or hot pepper mixed into a ten pound bag of bird seed is enough to discourage squirrels from attempting to eat from the bird feeder.
Using a frightening or obnoxious noise that a squirrel will eventually relate to eating from the bird feeder will keep them away. It may take several days, but as soon as they realize that the noise isn't worth the seeds they will avoid the bird feeder. Watch for the squirrels for several days and use a loud noise, such as a bell or a whistle, to scare them away. There are also electric noise makers that will work by motion sensors. Eventually the squirrels will get the message and leave the feeder alone.
Squirrels can be pests and do damage to your bird feeder, but using a humane way to discourage them is not as hard as it appears. By watching what you put in your feeder and where you put it you can effectively deter squirrels. Using one of these techniques will allow you to feed your birds and at the same time keep the food away from all the other neighborhood free loaders. If none of the above techniques work, it may be time to call in a pest control service from a site like http://www.heritagepestcontrolma.com/ to help remove the squirrels from your property entirely.