How to Deter Squirrels from Bird Feeders

By | October 11, 2017

Despite their cuddly nature, squirrels can be a real nuisance in your life if they’re a regular visitor. They can uproot your crops, pester other animals in your household, and even get into your bird feeders and homes if you’ve got one.

While they’re a menace and it can be jarring to have to deal with this problem for the first time, there are plenty of options to deter your furry invaders.

Try Different Feeds

Before you go about buying or constructing a squirrel proof bird feeder, a quicker solution might be to simply use a different kind of feed. Perhaps the current stock you use is particularly tempting to squirrels, and changing the feed might make them less likely to return or even attempt to steal any in the first place!

For instance, birds will love seed based stocks, such as safflower seeds – but squirrels are completely disinterested in the stuff!

You may hear a small tip from an irate bird lover, but we strongly recommended that you don’t do this – that is to add chili powder or capsaicin based products to whatever feed your using. The sharp kick seems to scare off the squirrels, yet it seems to have no effect on birds at all.

However, this “sharp kick” seems to actually damage the digestive tracts of squirrels and can cause them severe pain, so I’d strongly advise against doing this, as there are simply more humane options out there.

Use Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders

There are squirrel proof bird feeders on the market that can save you diving into making your own methods of squirrel prevention.

Some of these come with a mesh cage around the feeder, so that birds can reach it with their beaks, where squirrels are unable to reach the feed. This may not be an ideal solution for bird feeders for cardinals with short beaks, as they may also not be able to feed.

Another common solution relies on the fact that most birds weight significantly less than a squirrel, so a weight based mechanism can be used to move the feed away from the interested party if they’re above a certain weight.

Use an Unusual Scent

An easy technique to make your bird feeders squirrel proof is to place something on the bird feeder that omits an unusual scent. Most critters will smell something they don’t recognize, and become disinterested in it, failing to understand that it might be food.

Essentially you’re covering the smell of the seed or nut, and a great example of this is to use a candy cane hung around your bird feeder.

The peppermint smell is strong enough to deter a squirrel, but is relatively pleasant for you and the birds do not seem to mind it whatsoever.

Make sure that when you do this, you keep the candy cane intact – as crushing it into small pieces and placing it into the mix will only act as a choking hazard to your bird friends.

Common Things to Avoid

Some solutions you’ll be given by friends or colleagues may be meant with the best intentions, but are actually bad for some of the animals you’ll find in your backyard. With a little extra knowledge, you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Do Not – Try to capture the squirrels. They should not be kept as pets straight from the wild, as they are technically vermin and could harbor any number of infectious diseases.

Do Not – Coat your bird feeder in slippery material. Most slippery products contain petroleum, and even the tiniest amount of this can actually kill birds if it gets on their feathers.


Fortunately, squirrels are territorial animals, so before long they’ll see their attempts are fruitless, and move on! There are plenty of ways to deter squirrels, and before long you’ll have a solution to your squirrel problem and be able to enjoy watching your birds feed without being pestered.

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