About Dan Frankian

about dan frankian

Dan Frankian is an accomplished falconer, using his skills to provide a natural alternative to chemical and product driven Bird, Animal, and Pest Control in the Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Area... Read more »

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So, you’re a bird enthusiast and love watching them in your backyard? You’ve set up bird feeders strategically, so you can enjoy observing the traffic - but your invited guests get chased off by squirrels. Well, nuts to this - let’s look at how to keep squirrels away from bird feeders.

squirrel on bird feeder

Understanding the Problem

Why Are Squirrels Attracted to Bird Feeders?

Unfortunately, what’s good and tasty to a bird, is perceived as good and tasty by a squirrel as well. Additionally, with bird feeders most often hung up or mounted high, they make for a safer environment to grab a quick (or lengthy) snack, since it keeps squirrels out of reach of ground predators.

How do Squirrels Damage Bird Feeders?

Most damage occurs when the weight of the squirrel destroys the bird feeder mounting mechanisms or perches that just aren’t designed to support a chubby squirrel doing next level acrobatics to get to your bird seed.

Preventative Measures to Discourage Squirrels

Choosing the Right Location

graphic showing distances for mounting bird feederLocation, Location, Location! Squirrels are excellent climbers and jumpers - so installing your bird feeders away from any structures or other access points is essential.

The 5-7-9 Rule: Place your bird feeder at least 5’ off the ground, 7’ away from any structure, and 9’ from overhanging tree branches or roof lines.

Another excellent way to keep squirrels away from bird feeders is to hang feeders from a thin wire strung between trees. The wire must be thin enough, so squirrels can’t do a tight rope act.

Selecting Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders

If you’re not inclined to build your own, there are a slew of commercially available squirrel-proof bird feeders. Squirrel-proof feeders range from weight activated doors that prevent access to the seeds to (still weight activated) feeders that spin. Other designs include a cage or wire mesh that still allows small birds to get to the seeds, but is too dense to let squirrels get their grubby little paws through.

The perfect feeder for your yard will depend on what type and size of bird you seek to attract.

How to keep Squirrels away from Bird Feeders using Baffles and Barriers

Baffles are a great way to improve your existing setup by creating a barrier on the way up (or down) to your feeder. They can be sophisticated and built-in, or they could be a $2 plastic bowl with a drilled hole in the middle. Baffles can be installed on the pole holding your bird feeder or above your feeder. If you are just getting started, look for ready made bird feeder poles WITH baffles.

Got kids? Got slinkies? Perfect. Feed the pole to your bird feeder through the slinky, attach at the top and let hang down. Any squirrel grabbing onto the bottom of the slinky will promptly find itself back on the ground.

Natural Deterrents and Repellents

Squirrels (like all mammals in the wild) have an excellent sense of smell. Scents they do not favour include mint, geranium, hyacinth, garlic, apple cider vinegar, various essential oils, and the good ole bar of Irish Spring soap. All of these work to some degree… try them out and then pick your favourite.


Another great natural way to deter squirrels is adding spices around your bird feeder. Hot peppers or Cayenne pepper are most popular.. Crush red pepper flakes and sprinkle them on the ground where bird feeders are located. You can also do the same with cayenne pepper. None of these methods will bother or keep away the birds you intend to feed.

Commercial Deterrents and Repellents

Nothing can make squirrels scurry away in a hurry more than the scent of a predator such as a fox or coyote.

There are a number of commercial products that mimic a predator’s smell. Use it alone or in addition to natural repellents for better results.

In the scent deterrent DIY category are human and dog hair… you can scatter them on the ground around your feeders. This probably won’t yield awesome results, but you might add it to other methods.

Alternative Feeding Strategies

Choose Different Seeds

Pretty much the only seeds squirrels will not touch, are nyjer. Unfortunately, many bird species won't either. But, if you're ok with attracting mostly finches, pine siskins, and sparrows, this might be the way to go.

Feed Squirrels Separately

While this may appear counter-intuitive, consider a squirrel feeding station. You could stock that with literally any type of nut, acorns, and corn. Make sure to set some more time aside because now you’ll be squirrel watching as well!

What not to do

Please do not injure or poison the offending squirrels. It’s not only inhumane, but also illegal.

Do not use glue or paste on your mounting poles. Similarly, petroleum jelly or grease may not only irritate a squirrel’s skin, but also be potentially poisonous when ingested during grooming.

Long-Term Solutions and Considerations

If all else fails and you find yourself overrun with squirrels, it may be time to call in the Professionals. Trapping and relocation will probably be your best option.

How to Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders: Call Hawkeye!

Unlike other Ontario animal control operations, Hawkeye is a licensed furbearer trapping company that can employ a range of methods to provide you with the best permanent solution. Contact Hawkeye today for a free quote.


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