5 Hacks for Keeping Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders

Keeping squirrels off bird feeders entirely is a difficult feat, but you can at least try.

Eva Hagan - Author

Mar. 28 2024, Published 2:13 p.m. ET

A gray squirrel holds on to the edge of a bird feeder and looks at the camera.
Source: iStock

Understandably, squirrels along with other woodland critters see bird feeders as a great snack opportunity. However, it can become frustrating when you see squirrels day in and day out dominating the bird feeder, leaving the birds with little food for themselves. Even more frustrating? Squirrels are persistent, and will sometimes even break into the feeder to access the seeds.

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Luckily, there are some solutions out there to make sure most of your birdseed actually goes to the birds. It’s an important note that squirrels are wild animals searching for food, so we can’t expect them to stay away entirely, but we can do our best to deter them. Here’s how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders.

A gray squirrel reaches from a tree to a green bird feeder.
Source: iStock

How to keep squirrels out of bird feeders:

There are many methods out there for keeping squirrels out of your bird feeder that don’t involve buying a new feeder entirely. Keeping bird feeders out of reach can be difficult, as squirrels can leap from tree to tree pretty well, but there are other ways to deter them, per Wild Birds Unlimited.

However, depending on how bad your squirrel situation is, there is no shame in buying a fancy squirrel-proof feeder if you can afford it.

Read on for a few hacks you might want to try.

Add spice to your feeders.

An overhead photo of a bowl of chili spice and a wooden spoon.
Source: iStock

According to Birds and Blooms, squirrels are able to taste spices, while birds can’t. The spicy component in chili peppers, capsaicin, is said to taste bad to squirrels, and might keep them away from the seeds. For each 10-pound bag of bird seed, add a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, and see if this method works for you.

Elevate your bird feeder.

Two birds fly to a bird feeder that is high off the ground.
Source: iStock

While squirrels can leap pretty far, they do have their limits, which is why moving your feeder to a higher elevation could keep them away. According to Happy Gardens, you usually won’t see squirrels jump any more than 5 feet up, 7 feet across, and 9 feet down. This might require some creativity, or having an extra long feeder pole, whatever makes sense in your yard.

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Use a squirrel baffle.

A bird gets read to fly off of one bird feeder with a plastic squirrel baffle to the other.
Source: iStock

Adding a squirrel baffle to your bird feeder can make it harder for the squirrels to climb, while still accessible to the birds. Most squirrel baffles are plastic or metal dome structures that can be attached below or above the feeder (or even both), blocking the squirrels from getting to the seeds, per Martha Stewart.

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Try a slinky.

Apparently, adding a slinky to your bird feeder pole is a thing. According to Birds and Blooms, by attaching a slinky to the bird feeder pole, when squirrels try to climb up the pole, the slinky will send them back to the ground.

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Use Irish Spring soap.

For whatever reason, squirrels do not like the smell of Irish Spring soap. So much so that if you hang an Irish Spring soap bar next to your feeder, it could be enough to keep the squirrels from coming near. According to Happy Gardens, this might not be the best method for the summertime, or if you live somewhere with high temperatures, because you may just end up melting the soap.

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