There is a thief in your backyard. He is relentless, clever and incredibly agile, and he wants to eat your bird seed. He is the squirrel. Many great wars have been waged by bird-feeding enthusiasts against this determined pillager. Humans may win a few battles by squirrel-proofing their bird feeders, but in the end it is always the squirrel that wins the war. Nevertheless, you can prolong your bird seed supply and get many hours of enjoyment watching the antics of your neighbourhood squirrel by trying these techniques for squirrel-proofing a bird feeder mounted on a post.
Things you need
- Roll of metal roof flashing (aluminium or steel) 12 to 18 inches wide
- Tin snips
- Sheet metal screw
- Hose clamp
- Galvanised roofing nails
- 8-inch diameter PVC pipe
- Hand saw
- 8-inch pipe cap
- PVC cement
Build the post as tall as possible, while still being able to reach the feeder and fill it with food. Squirrels are incredible jumpers; even the best squirrel baffle is useless if your feeder is only 4 feet off the ground. Squirrels have been known to leap up to nearly 6 feet vertically from the ground.
Position the feeder properly. Squirrels can jump high from the ground but they can jump even farther horizontally. Place your feeder in an open space at least 12 feet from any yard features and overhanging trees. Trim any nearby branches.
Build a cone baffle from a short roll of aluminium or galvanised roof flashing that is at least 1 foot wide. Cut off a piece about 5 feet long using tin snips. Trim the ends diagonally to form a pyramid shape and roll the piece into a funnel. It will take a couple tries to trim your baffle to the right shape. Wrap the baffle around the post and put one sheet metal screw through the bottom edge (the wide part of the funnel) to join the flashing. If you have a metal post, cut tabs in the narrow top edge and bend them upward. Attach baffle as high as possible with a hose clamp and tighten with a screwdriver. If you have a wooden post, attach the top using a hammer and galvanised roofing nails. Alternatively, place an inverted plastic bucket, garbage can lid or large plastic salad bowl on the pole.
Build a tube baffle to provide a slippery surface that prevents a squirrel from getting a grip on the pole. Use a piece of PVC or other smooth hard plastic tubing that is at least 4 inches in diameter. Cut a piece at least 18 inches long with a hand saw. Attach a pipe end cap to the top with plumbing PVC cement. Drill a hole through the cap that is just big enough to fit your post. Attach a hose clamp high up on your post and slide the tube baffle down to it. The end cap should rest on your hose clamp. An 8-inch diameter galvanised furnace pipe works well, too. Alternatively, cover the entire post with a single long piece of large-diameter PVC pipe or furnace pipe.
Grease the pole. Though fun to watch, this is not a long-term solution as the grease will get worn off by the repeated attempts of the squirrel and will lodge in its fur. Mechanical greases are not healthy for the squirrel, so this is a last resort and not highly recommended. If you have a metal or plastic pole, try vaseline or cooking spray.
Provide a distraction, such as a corn cob feeder or a feeding station with local nuts and acorns, peanuts and sunflower seeds. Build and position it far away from your bird feeder.
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