Tip Sheet from Messina Wildlife Management on How to Squirrel-Proof A Bird Feeder

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Bird feeding is the easiest way to welcome wildlife into a yard, but what happens when unwanted, squirrelly guests find out about the generosity and stake their claim on the new food source?

Bird feeding is the easiest way to welcome wildlife into a yard, but what happens when unwanted, squirrelly guests find out about the generosity and stake their claim on the new food source? Out-thinking these little rascals can be the difference between enjoyment and frustration. Before throwing hands up in frustration, Messina Wildlife Management is sharing a few tips to help make this spring’s bird watching season a real joy.

To create a habitat that will attract birds to a backyard, there needs to be shelter, water and food; bird feeders with a variety of seed will help to make a backyard even more bird friendly. A birdbath with clean water can attract birds that might not normally come to a bird feeder and providing nesting boxes can keep birds at a feeder longer, ensuring a safe environment for their young.

There are many kinds of birdseed to attract songbirds. Some birds will only be attracted to black-oil sunflower, while others will only eat millet, so it’s important to know which birds are native to the region. A quick check of a local retailer is a good place to find different birdseed and the prices. While most birders will use one kind of seed, experienced birders will use a custom mix, personally blended.

Unfortunately squirrels love the same seed that is going to attract the various birds to a bird feeder. Unless there an installed sign that the squirrel’s can read, they won’t get the message that the bird-feeder and its valuable filling isn’t meant for them. Don’t be fooled! Sure, at first those fury guys look cute, but before long seeing habits of destruction, clawing and biting at the feeder, even when there is no food left, claiming the feeder location as their own.

Squirrels are highly intelligent and their persistence is legendary, figuring out ways to beat a system as long as they think there is a chance to succeed at finding food. Keeping your feeder exclusive to the invited guest list and convincing the squirrels that they are not welcome may require a squirrel resistant attack plan. Some options to consider are:

  •     Cages – Place a wire or mesh cage around the bird feeder, squirrels will not fit through the holes, but smaller birds will. Depending on the local species, though, this might not be an option.
  •     Baffles – Add smooth plastic or metal baffles above and below the bird feeders. Check them frequently to make sure the baffle isn’t cracked or separated as to allow squirrels a work around.
  •     Spinners – Hang a feed from a thin horizontal wire, string with spinners to stop squirrels from climbing.
  •     Seed – While squirrels will eat almost any type of birdseed but they are less attracted to Nyjer and Safflower seed.
  •     Repellent - Commercial repellents are available at your local hardware or nursery and can be a great addition to any or all of these suggestions. Follow all directions clearly as some products may effectively repel squirrels but may not be for use around birds and/or birdseed.

Messina Wildlife has one product that has garnered a lot of attention in recent years, organic squirrel repellent ,Squirrel Stopper®. Squirrel Stopper gives backyard bird watchers an edge by being able to be applied to birdseed, bird feeders and other areas. The product will last for 30 days regardless of weather, and it repels by smell, taste and feel. It’s pleasant smelling and easy to use; just spread the birdseed on some newspaper and spray the birdseed with an even amount of Squirrel Stopper, let dry for 30 minutes and fill the bird feeder.

Another way to protect bird feeders from squirrels is to treat them as just as much a welcome guest as the birds and provide a squirrel feeding station. But remember to place the squirrel feeder lower than the bird feeder, or the birds will avoid the area. There are commercial squirrel feeders available but any tray or bucket lid will work. As much as corn is a great squirrel attractant, remember that squirrels naturally hide nuts for the winter, so why not buy some nuts for them to dine on.

By using these ideas proactively, one can prevent and divert squirrels from destroying the backyard bird feeders, while enjoying the beauty of nature and the song that birds bring to it at it’s best, in co-existence.

For additional information on Messina Wildlife Management tools, please visit… http://www.Messinawildlife.com


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Chris Beatty
Messina Wildlife Management
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