Bird feeders should be exactly that. Bird feeders. They are not meant for other critters or creatures. The last thing you want is to attract other animals that are unwanted, especially rodents. Rodents can cause damage to property and can overpopulate your yard. This article will go over a couple of strategies to try out if you find that your bird feeder isn’t living up to its name. Meaning, it isn’t exactly feeding birds. Here’s how to keep other animals out of your bird feeder.
Squirrels are notorious for stealing food from bird feeders. They’ve sort of become experts at it. These are probably the most difficult critters to keep out of bird feeders. Here are a couple things to try.
Install a Squirrel Baffle
Squirrel baffles are easy to install and are very effective. A squirrel baffle looks like an umbrella on a pole. It’s usually made out of slippery metal or plastic. Put a squirrel baffle on the bird feeder pole underneath the bird feeder. Squirrels will be able to climb the pole until they reach the baffle. They will not be able to get past the baffle. The wide bottom of the baffle prevents them from jumping past it, and the slippery material prevents them from climbing on top of it. An easy fix.
Squirrel Proof the Location
Squirrels can jump crazy distances. They can jump 10 horizontally! This means that if your bird feeder is within 10 feet from a tree, or something a squirrel can jump from, your bird feeder isn’t safe. Even if you have a squirrel baffle, a squirrel can climb a tree and just jump straight to the feeder bypassing the baffle altogether. The best place to put a bird feeder is right smack dab in the middle of an open area. No trees, bushes, or outdoor furniture should be around it. Since the squirrels won’t have anything to jump from, they won’t be able to reach the bird food.
Have a Squirrel Proof Feeder
Despite all your previous efforts, squirrels are still getting to your bird feeder. It’s time to up your efforts and get a squirrel proof feeder. Some feeders spin when there is something hanging onto it. This prevents squirrels from being able to hang on! If all the previous things didn’t work, try this method.
Stop Offering a Squirrel’s Favorite Foods
Peanuts, corn, sunflower seeds, and fruit are a squirrel’s favorite food! They’ll do just about anything to get their tiny hands on that stuff. Try offering food that birds still like but squirrels aren’t too fond of. Squirrels don’t care for safflower or nyjer seeds. Swap out the food in your bird feeder and see if that makes a difference.
Raccoons can be just as pesky as squirrels except they’re a lot bigger. These sneaky little animals also have very nimble hands and can get them into just about anything.
These also work for raccoons. You might need a larger baffle since raccoons are quite a bit bigger than squirrels but it’ll still do the trick. Squirrels and raccoons are similar enough that they both cannot grip or climb a slick surface. Since squirrel baffles are slippery, raccoons will also have a hard time climbing over them.
Bring the Bird Feeder in at Night
Raccoons are nocturnal, which means they come out at night instead of during the day. Bringing the bird feeder in at night will prevent the raccoons from having access to it during their prime waking hours. This is a simple solution and may be exactly what it takes to keep the little buggers out.
Have Less Seed Lying Around
Scattered seed on the ground will attract more raccoons. Try to pick up the seeds that have fallen on the ground or have something that will catch the falling seeds. At the end of the day you can empty the bucket, or whatever is catching the seeds, to prevent raccoons from coming around. The less food there is, the fewer raccoons you’ll see. Make sure the rest of your bird seed is in an airtight container that raccoons cannot get to. They can get into sheds and storage areas if they think there’s food available. You’d be surprised what raccoons will do for food.
Deer can be harder to keep away since they’re so big and can reach bird feeders more easily than smaller animals. But it is not impossible.
Deer have sensitive noses and will shy away from things that smell strongly. Hanging strongly scented soaps or other fragrances near a bird feeder will probably keep deer away. Human hair works too. Strongly scented herbs can help keep deer away as well. Plant some herbs around your bird feeder and it’ll keep the deer away and you’ll have fresh herbs to use. That’s a win win situation!
Install a Fence
Install a fence to keep deer out of your yard all together. Deer that cannot get to your yard, will not be able to eat from your yard. This is a more expensive solution, but it’s very effective. The fence will need to be fairly tall since deer are excellent at jumping. A small fence will not keep deer out. Generally, any type of fence will work. Chain Link or picket will both work as long as they’re tall enough.
Install Motion Sensors
Deer are afraid of sudden noises or lights. A motion sensor that turns on a light or a noise will scare any deer away. Although, this could be annoying for you or your neighbors. This could mean that a light or a sound would come on at all hours during the night. It’s effective at keeping deer away, but it might not please you either. Choose your battle.
Use Landscaping to Your Advantage
Thorny plants will keep deer away. No one wants to be surrounded by thorns and thimbles. Deer will avoid areas with plants that poke. Surround your bird feeder with all sorts of prickles and see how the deer shy away from your yard. This is a cheaper alternative to installing a fence, but it may not be quite as effective.
Keeping other animals away from bird feeders can be difficult. Don’t get discouraged. It is possible to successfully keep animals out of bird feeder for good. Different methods work on different animals. What worked for raccoons may not work for squirrels. People that have bird feeders want to be able to feed birds, not attract rodents and other pests. Try one of these methods and see which ones work for you.