Three Easy Ways to Stop Squirrels at Bird Feeders

Squirrels are smart, relentless, and crafty when it comes to finding ways to gobble up your bird seed. While they can be fun to have in your backyard, a few squirrels can easily eat up hundreds of dollars worth of seed in a month. According to Wild Birds Unlimited, one adult squirrel can eat one and a half pounds of seed a week! Worse, their presence will scare away birds for long periods of time as they hog the feeder.

If you’re tired of these crafty rodents eating your bird seed and scaring away your birds, here are three quick solutions below. I don’t want to jinx myself, but after following a combination of these tips, I haven’t seen a squirrel at my feeders in more than three months.

1. Buy Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders

There are several different weight sensitive squirrel-proof feeders you can buy. They usually work similarly: If something heavy, like a squirrel, tries to hop on, the ports to the feeder close via a weight-sensitive design. Birds are light enough to not activate the system.

I currently use two squirrel-proof feeders at my feeding station and they both work perfectly. My favorite is this Squirrel Buster Feeder. It’s small and easy to hang anywhere. It’s a favorite for finches, chickadees and nuthatches in my neck of the woods. I haven’t even seen a squirrel attempt to use this feeder. It’s also long lasting, my Dad gave me this feeder as a gift while my parents downsized their home. It’s still going strong after 15+ years in operation.

I also use this Squirrel-Resistant X X7 Feeder (pictured below) and really like it. It can hold a ton of bird seed at once too. You can read my full review of this feeder here.

A picture of a squirrel proof feeder on a hanging pole
The Squirrel-X™ X7 Squirrel-Resistant Bird Feeder

You can go to any hardware or bird store and they will have several different anti-squirrel feeders available for you to look at. Just be sure to buy a quality feeder and avoid material like wood and cheap plastic. Squirrels can chew through those materials and are persistent enough to do so. If shopping online, be sure to read customer reviews for squirrel proof feeders as some are better than others.

Outside of weight-activated options, there are also feeders with cages and feeders that will literally spin squirrels off of them. That’s free can’t-beat entertainment!

2. Get Spicy With Bird Seed to Stop Squirrels

A bag and cylinder of Flaming Hot Feast spicy bird seed. This is great at slowing squirrels down.
Flaming Hot Feast is great because it has a combination of sunflower seed, safflower, peanuts and mealworms. It’s a crowd-pleaser!

Squirrels, like humans, taste spice intensely and are repelled away from food that’s too hot to handle. I’ve had a decent amount of success getting rid of squirrels by spicing up my birdseed.

Birds have significantly fewer taste buds than mammals, so they can’t taste and aren’t bothered by spicy bird seed. According to Wild Birds Unlimited, birds may even enjoy the taste of spicy food. 

You can take advantage of this animal kingdom tastebud mis-match by either buying a pre-mixed spicy bird seed or a special spice sauce for birdseed and apply it to whatever you’re putting out. The best reviewed product for this on Amazon is Cole’s Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce.

Me personally, I like the Flaming Hot Feast brand (pictured above) and buy bags of the mix and cylinders from Amazon linked here.

Warning: If you go this route, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands well after using spicy bird seed. It can irritate your skin and you’ll be in for a bad day if you accidentally get it in your eyes.

Video proof of this approach, courtesy of Bird Watching HQ.

3. Feed Squirrels on the Ground (Away from Your Bird Feeders)

animal, squirrel, sciurus-927904.jpg
Squirrels can actually be fun to watch and feed!

Some people throw their hands into the air and decide it’s better to feed the squirrels with a ground feeder versus battling them. That way they can keep them distracted from their hanging feeders. This idea has merit: squirrels will usually go for “easy” food presented to them on the ground versus hopping around on bird feeders.

I would recommend this approach…if you like squirrels! Some people find them entertaining and enjoy watching them just like the birds. If this is you, I would buy a big bag of cracked corn (and maybe some sunflower) and put it on the ground. You can also nail a suet cake feeder onto a tree in your yard to draw squirrels in.

You can also buy ground feeders made to resemble mini-picnic tables for squirrels and chipmunks. Now that’s awesome!

This approach is not perfect. Squirrels will usually go for easier-to-eat options on the ground, but they’re wild animals and will still likely go to your feeders from time to time…just not as often.

Related Content: The Proven Best Bird Seed for Blue Jays

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