Keen bird watchers value bird feeders as an integral part of the backyard landscape. Now wherever there is bird food there is bound to be squirrels; welcome or not. If you want success at feeding wild birds, you will have to look at squirrel proof bird feeders. Here are some squirrel facts to consider.
Squirrels are agile, bold and persistent. They are rodents; so their teeth never stop growing and adults require up to two pounds of food per week. They are adept at climbing up a wide variety of surfaces, including brickwork. The harder the access to feed, the more they turn into ninja squirrels – truly ingenious acrobats. They are seldom outwitted, but they can be deterred and diverted.
Think about the best feeder types and optimal location in your backyard – always bearing in mind that squirrels can leap up to ten feet across a gap, jump as high as five feet off the ground and are happy dropping eleven feet from a height!
Feeders can either be suspended or pole-mounted. Choose to suspend them from an isolated branch of a deciduous tree (less dense foliage than pine) or you could try hanging them from a wire between two trees (although this makes refilling quite tricky). Always suspend from a metal chain or wire and hook, otherwise the squirrels will chew through the cord to make the feeder will drop.
A good squirrel guard is a baffle. Made from either heavy plastic or metal, it forms an umbrella over the top of both suspended and pole-mounted feeders. The squirrels simply slide off them. Baffles can also be placed about four feet above the ground below pole-mounted feeders – greasing the pole with Vaseline can also be effective.
Caged bird feeders are a good option because they allow small birds access to the feed, excluding squirrels and larger birds too.
You can always opt for more high tech squirrelproof bird feeders . They are weight-activated. When a squirrel lands on one, a spring mechanism causes a metal shield to come down over the feeder or its perches give way. Another, which is also very funny to watch, has a battery-driven motor that spins the squirrel (harmlessly) off it.
Squirrels eat a wide range of foods, but another way to fend them off is to offer the birds safflower seed, thistle seed (niger), and /or pure suet (without seed), because they are simply not that fond of them.
Of course, you can look at this from a completely different angle and get a squirrel feeder – complete with trapeze, tightrope and springboard. You can give squirrels their favorite foods in return for them putting on a wonderful circus performance for you. So while they are distracted, the birds get to eat too – everyone wins.
Let’s face it, squirrels will always be a part of our backyard gardens, and with strategic planning of bird feeder type, location and bird food type, we can ensure not only that the birds get their fair share but also that we are entertained by funny squirrel antics.