Feeding Birds by Keeping Squirrels Away

by William
A lot of Hometalkers have asked how to keep squirrels away from bird
Outwit squirrels with these tips for keeping squirrels away from bird feeders to leave bird seed for the birds.

Squirrels! Squirrels! Squirrels! They are everywhere…on bird feeders, on wires, on the ground and in the birdbath.

Most are gray squirrels, but depending on where you live, some may be red squirrels or fox squirrels. All can be pests.

True, they are fascinating to watch, and obviously very intelligent as they outsmart the protective baffles and domes we place around bird feeders. But there is a limit to how much of this behavior we’re willing to tolerate.

After years of studying and observing wildlife, I’ve come up with four methods that will stop most squirrels in their tracks.

Rule of 5-7-9: I have found that squirrels cannot jump more than 5 feet from the ground to reach a feeder on a post with a baffle. They cannot jump more than 7 feet from a tree or building to the side of a feeder. And they are reluctant to drop more than 9 feet onto a feeder from above.

So, if your feeder is 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet on each side from a launching place, and 9 feet below an overhang, 90% of squirrels will be unable to jump onto a baffled feeder. If you add 6 inches to those dimensions, you should prevent 100% of squirrels from reaching the feeder.

Soda Bottle Roller: Squirrels are regular circus performers when it comes to walking on high wires. Their amazing agility makes bird feeders hanging from wires easy pickings for any squirrel.

But, if you string plastic liter-size soda bottles onto the wire on both sides of the feeders, the squirrels will be rolled off the bottles as they approach the feeders. Make sure to keep the Rule of 5-7-9 in mind when placing the wire for the soda bottle setup.

Slinky On A Post: A “Slinky,” the children’s toy, makes a great post baffle. Thread the post through the Slinky and attach one end under the feeder and allow it to drape down the post. Shorten it if the Slinky touches the ground.

A squirrel that tries to climb the post will get a ride on the Slinky back to the ground every time. Again, remember to use the Rule of 5-7-9 when placing the feeder to prevent squirrels from bypassing the Slinky baffle.

Birds In A Cage: By enclosing bird feeders in wire mesh (hardware cloth) that is large enough to allow birds beaks to enter the cage, but small enough to exclude squirrels, you have squirrel-proofed the feeder. This works especially well for feeders that only serve small birds, like tube feeders, and it keeps out large bully birds as well.

Use these four methods, alone or together, and you will have outsmarted the squirrels in your backyard. Then you can go back to watching the birds on the feeders, while the squirrels watch from the trees.
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Nadja Stevens Nadja Stevens on Feb 13, 2019

    William....if I apply the 5-7-9 rule, all of my bird feeders would be either in my neighbour's yard or in the middle of the street LoL

    ...and even that wouldn't stop those pesky squirrels!

    I have quite the forest of trees in my backyard that they have made into their personal jungle gym, so I really don't mind the squirrels gorging themselves on the bird seed....

    but how do I keep the lil buggers from snatching all of my apples and pears???

    I have gone so far as to individually wrap some beautiful apples and pears in tightly woven chicken wire but the damn squirrels will sit there and work on the wire to pull it apart to get to the fruit!!!

    After 25 years of battling these super rodents, plus the chipmunks, birds, possums, skunks and raccoons...

    I have resigned my backyard to the wildlife

    and hit the grocery store for my fruit fix!

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  • GeorgiaBulldogsFan GeorgiaBulldogsFan on Nov 12, 2020

    Hi William. Hubby and I will surely be looking to move our feeders and using the 5-7-9 rule. Thanks for doing the research and making it easier for us Hometalkers! Terrific share!

  • Juniper Juniper on Aug 30, 2022

    I’m sorry, all I could focus on is how cute that squirl looked!🐿❤️