Recently updated on May 29th, 2024

A gray squirrel eats from a bird feeder while a cardinal watches on.

Is your backyard turning into a battle of Mother Nature? Is it a tussle between Tweety Bird and Sammy the Squirrel? Are the birds trying to protect their own turf against the squirrels?

Well, you could play peacemaker by letting the birds keep their perch atop their bird feeders, and not letting their jumpy friends get the leap on them and steal their food. But, first, let Ocean State Job Lot give you a few friendly facts and help you along the way.

A gray squirrel eats bird seed.

Why Squirrels Are Attracted to Bird Feeders

So, before we break down how to stop the habit of the squirrels facing off with their flying foes, let’s take a look at why squirrels want to take over in the first place.

First is the no-brainer: FOOD. Those athletic squirrels are looking for nutrients like nuts and oil. They basically see a bird feeder as a buffet.

The second reason is a no-brainer: FOOD.

And the third reason is a no-brainer: FOOD. 

It’s all an end game of trying to get enough to eat during the day.

A squirrel-proof bird feeder hanging from a tree.

Selecting Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders

Is there one type of bird feeder or bird bath that squirrels don’t like? Well, there may not be one particular type they don’t try to disrupt, but there are definitely things that will deter a squirrel from coming back to your feeder.

  1. Space – Caged feeders feature a metal mesh enclosure around the seed ports that allows small birds to enter but excludes squirrels.
  2. Weight – These feeders use a spring-loaded mechanism that closes the feeding ports when a squirrel’s weight triggers it.
  3. Access – Baffles are conical or dome-shaped shields placed below the feeder to prevent squirrels from climbing up the pole and reaching the seed ports. Find them at Ocean State Job Lot and easily click them around your feeder.
A squirrel trying to reach for a bird feeder from a fence.

Optimal Placement of Feeders to Deter Squirrels

The perfect feeder placement is one where you can see your bird feeder easiest and keep the squirrels out. You want to keep the bird feeder visible for you and the birds to keep the beauty of your backyard intact but also far enough away for squirrels to jump onto. Remember, squirrels are very athletic.

Location Tips and Barrier Techniques

Remember, squirrels are very athletic so an ideal length is 12 feet away from other things like fences and at least 4 feet high so they can’t leap and use those other things to leap from. The lower to the ground the better it is for the fast-moving scoundrels. Meanwhile, birds have the gift of flight behind them to try to win the ground game against the squirrels. If it’s too hard to climb to get to or get a scent from the seeds, then they will give up easily. Use that to your advantage to give squirrels one more option to overcome.

A wooden spoon filled with hot pepper flakes.

DIY Deterrents and Repellents

Of course, you could always build your own ways to keep the pesky poachers away. We have plenty of ingredients to offer at prices you won’t believe at Ocean State Job Lot.  Consider these tips:

  1. Give them a scent they would rather reject than come near and steal the seeds. Make it odorous, like soap, but not harmful to the birds who you still want to eat the seeds.
  2. Making the bird feeder a little more slippery with vaseline or petroleum jelly could do the trick as their weight might keep them away from staying atop the feeder.
  3. Add a little hot pepper flakes to the seeds as the squirrels don’t like them, but the birds aren’t turned away from them.
A pair of house finches eating from a bird feeder.

Ensuring Peaceful Bird Feeding

When it comes down to why you’re doing any of this, it’s very simple: you want to see your birds eat safely in your bird feeders. It’s that plain and simple. No matter what feeder or seed you choose, you want to make sure those birds of a feather flock together for a festival feast. So, stop by your local Ocean State Job Lot, pick up some seed supplies that will help you do that and sit back, relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature!