Did You Say A Pact?
Ok, before you go rolling your eyes thinking this is one of those posts claiming if you feed your squirrels they’ll leave your feeders alone, don’t worry. I’m not going to try to sell you that bill of goods. My seventeen seasons of backyard bird feeding have taught me different. You don’t make a pact with squirrels. Allow me to elaborate.
First, here’s a funny short of George (Seinfeld) reminding us we have no “deal” or pact with squirrels.
My First Experience With Squirrels
When I first started noticing I had squirrels in my backyard I wasn’t concerned. My feeders were at the top of a long skinny steel feeder pole so what are they gonna’ do? Climb it? My first mistake was underestimating them because that is EXACTLY what they did. Not all of them and not at first but eventually I got to witness my first squirrel eating the dropped seeds at the base of the feeder. Then looking up and figuring out where they came from. After that it was a very logical decision. If the seeds are up there, I need to get up there. And there he went. Shimmying up that pole like he had a linemen’s belt attached to him. That’s when I decided it was time to take action.
Feeding As A Distraction
Somewhere around this time I read a blog saying they kept the squirrels at bay by feeding them away from their bird feeders. Silly me, I actually thought this person must know what they’re talking about. So I set up a metal squirrel feeding box on my fence. Sure, it got their attention but did not quell their curiosity about my feeders. The climbing continued while they poked around at the feeder box. Time for more action. That’s where the feeder baffle first came in.
I started out getting a standard baffle and it worked for a while until they figured out how to scale up far enough to jump onto tube feeders. Then I got serious and bought a raccoon baffle. Same design just longer. That was the last time a squirrel ever got on one of my feeders. Oh, except for the youngster one year that jumped about 25 feet out of a nearby tree to hit the feeder and fall off it. (BTW, squirrels are reputed to be able to fall up to 100 feet onto a forest floor or lawn without being hurt.) I’m thinking this guy changed his mind after hitting metal from that height.
So What Do I Recommend?
- Install a METAL squirrel feeder to give them something to eat after they figure out they can’t get your feeders. Don’t waste your time with wooden ones either. If it has a lid, they’ll destroy the feeder chewing it to get in. I’m also not a fan of those with trays outside as they usually just attract nuisance birds. Make this something else they have to figure out.
- Keep it stocked with standard wildlife mix.
- Start out with raccoon baffles. Not only do they keep squirrels out, you may find you have raccoons at some point and you won’t have to upgrade.
- Enjoy having them and don’t feel like it’s an adversarial relationship. They can be a real joy to have and watch along with your birds.
- Buy expensive seed mixes because word travels. One winter I used a woodpecker mix and woke up one morning to count 13 animals in my backyard. Scaling back to wildlife mix reduced that number to around 3-5.
- Put your feeders close enough to a tree for a squirrel to jump onto your feeders because they will. They have no fear.
- Think just feeding them will keep them off your feeders.
This Is A Quick Tip?
Ok, so I didn’t start this series off too well. Not the quickest tip I’ve ever written but I’ll get better as I go.
How about you? Do you have a squirrel feeding tip or story to share? Leave us a comment below and let’s all learn something from this.
Most of the products mentioned in this article can be purchased from:
Wild Birds Unlimited – baffles, squirrel box, wildlife mix
Walmart – seed mixes, wildlife mix, some squirrel boxes