How To Keep Squirrels Out Of Bird Feeders

Tips For Keeping Your Bird Feeders Safe From Squirrels

Are you and your bird friends struggling with a squirrel problem? Though it may be quite frustrating, there are several proven solutions for you to try out.

These solutions have been proven effective by many gardeners, homeowners, and bird enthusiasts. Squirrels may just be trying to get a bite to eat, but they can quickly become pests.

Don’t let it get to a point where squirrels are robbing the birds of their food that you thoughtfully put out for them and scaring away the birds.

It’s time to get a handle on this situation ASAP with the following tips on how to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders.

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Squirrel Deterrent Feeders

Squirrels are everywhere, and they’re agile hungry little creatures. They can also be aggressive towards birds.

Once they realize that you’re the generous one in the neighborhood, they’ll never forget where to find food. Unless, of course, you outsmart them. 

One way to do that is with bird feeders that are specially designed to keep the hungry birds fed, and the squirrels far away. Depending on how much you want to invest in this issue, these squirrel proof feeders can be simple or deluxe. 

They will be shaped in a way that makes it almost impossible for squirrels to infiltrate. There surface and design are also perfect for birds to hang out while they eat, but won’t allow squirrels to grab on, should they attempt to jump on.

Deluxe Squirrel Proof Feeders

A more deluxe one could include a battery-powered spinner. If a squirrel lands on it, the spinner will activate and turn, forcing the intruder to find food elsewhere.

Another version of the deluxe models includes a sensor that acknowledges a squirrel’s presence and emits a high pitch sound to chase them away. 

See below for more details on those sounds and how they can help you tremendously in your efforts to deter.


Baffles are attachments that you can add to the bottom of your feeders, simple or deluxe.  A dome-shaped piece of lightweight slick plastic or metal hangs just below the base of bird feeders and is resistant to the grasp of the squirrel.

With a baffle, they aren’t able to hang out and empty your feeders.

Bird Feeder Placement

To outsmart the squirrels, you must think like a squirrel. You have to go beyond the physical capabilities of the nimble creatures.

A proven method for getting ahead of them is basically the placement of your feeders.

Use Fishing Line To Hang Feeders?

Hanging all of your feeders from, or near the trees that the squirrels inhibit gives them perfect access to a free buffet of birdseed. It may not be obvious to everyone, but it’s the closest to their home as you could get.

Positioning your feeders away from the trees is a smart move. But, where will you hang them, now? If you can not put poles or shepherd’s hooks in your yard, don’t stress.

gray squirrel dangling upside down on thin rope to reach a suet feeder
Should’ve used fishing line…

Technically, you can still use the tree branches but avoiding low hanging branches is advisable. If you can hang the bird feeder between two sturdy branches the squirrels should have a harder time getting to it.

This can be done by attaching fishing line securely to each branch. Then attach the bird feeder in the middle of the fishing line. The fishing line isn’t sturdy enough to support a squirrel’s weight.

Installing Shepherd’s Hooks

Do you have a large yard? Use the space to install a few shepherd’s hooks.

They are typically easy to push into the dirt. If your yard is harder to penetrate dig a narrow hole for the legs to go into, at least 10” deep.

Once you have your pole in the ground, and standing straight, fill in the hole and pack the dirt around the poles. You may wish to water the area to pack the dirt tighter, preventing the poles from falling over.

How To Keep Squirrels Off Bird Feeder Poles

A problem that bird lovers also face with squirrels is keeping them off of the shepherd’s hooks they have installed. Squirrels can jump up onto the hooks due to their strong hind legs and persistence. 

How can we keep the squirrels from breaking into the feeders on the shepherd’s hooks? Well, for starters we can install a baffle as we talked about earlier. They are affordable and effective. 

gray squirrel in a Japanese maple tree reaching for a hanging bird feeder to steal seed

1) Greasing A Bird Feeder Pole

Give yourself extra assurance by putting a bit of slick onto the pole itself.

Vaseline to keep squirrels away?

Some people have great results with vaseline, but this is generally not recommended. Vaseline can coat a squirrel’s fur, is hard for them to remove, and potentially toxic for them to ingest.

A safer option is to use some cooking oil or coconut oil. Any of those will be sufficient in creating a slippery surface that their tiny paws can’t grasp. Soak a towel with oil, and generously grease the pole. 

2) DIY Squirrel Proof Pole

If you are handy and willing to put some effort into a project, check out some of these ideas.

When it comes to DIY creativity often comes into play. And, our first method is just that.

Deter Squirrels With A Slinky

Surely you are familiar with the popular toy, the “Slinky.” Not only is this a fun past time, but it’s also a very effective way of keeping the squirrels off of your bird feeders and poles. 

Simply feed the pole through the center of your slinky, or hang it from the base of your feeder. The flexible swinging slinky will keep squirrels from grabbing on and chowing down.

They may attempt to climb up, but they will fail over and over again until they give up.

Bird Feeder Inside A Birdcage

This is actually a genius remedy for squirrel proofing your feeders. Get yourself a birdcage with openings large enough for a bird to fit into, but small enough to keep the squirrels out.

Place the feed or feeder in the center of the cage & suspend it on a wire hook or strong fishing line. Even if a squirrel reaches their arms through, they won’t be able to reach the food.

Best Ways To Repel Squirrels

When it comes to dealing with pests around our home, whatever we decide to use should be safe for our family & for our pets that play in the yard. Repellants can sometimes have harmful chemicals in them so be sure to check the label!

You can buy several types of repellant products. What form you use may depend on several factors. For instance, if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, a sprayed repellant might not be the best option, as you would need to reapply it after every time it rains.

Pest Pellets:

Other than sprays, you can also check out pest pellets. They are small nuggets of repellant or spray that you can scatter around the areas that the bird feeders are in. Should you decide to take a more aggressive approach, you could extend the area to your entire yard, or at least trim the perimeter of your grounds with the pellets.

Moth Balls:

Although they are not chemical-free, mothballs have been proven to work as a powerful squirrel repellant. They don’t hurt the squirrels, they just deter them from entering certain areas by using a strong smell that they hate.

Sound Extermination:

You may be aware of high pitched training whistles for dogs. But, many people don’t know that squirrels are also sensitive to sound.

Ultrasonic squirrel repellents are one of the most effective pest control products on the market. These ultrasonic devices come in a stake version that you simply drive into the ground.

There are other versions that you can mount in an area they might enter your yard through. The ultrasonic sound will not harm them, but it will irritate them, forcing them to turn around and leave your yard.

Most of these units have small solar panels on them to power the motion detector that activates the ultrasonic wave blast. If your yard doesn’t get enough sun you can purchase a battery-powered version that does the same job, but you have to remember to change the batteries. 

This method of squirrel repellant will provide your yard with the added bonus of not only keeping them out but also a variety of other furry intruders including moles, voles, stray cats & rats.

How To Keep Squirrels Away Naturally

If you’d prefer some natural ways to keep squirrels away, these following tips will be helpful. Many of the repellants you probably already have in your home.

Coffee Grounds

When you’re done brewing your morning pot of coffee, don’t dump the grounds into the trash. Instead use them to sprinkle around the edge of your yard, or around your feeder.

Did you know that the scent that we love actually repels squirrels? Since scent does fade over time, especially is it rains, you will have to reapply more grounds to the ground once a week.

There is no need to worry about what the coffee will do your grass and garden because it will actually act as a fertilizer.

Bonus! Save all your used grounds, and call on neighbors and friends to help you add to your coffee ground collection. 

gray squirrel closeup with a surprised facial expression
“What?! You want to repel me?”

Perimeter Security

If the ultimate goal is to keep the squirrels off of your bird feeders, why not keep them off of your property altogether? There are a few ways to go about doing this, and one highly effective way is natural and simple.

Certain plants are known to repel squirrels and other pesky invaders:


  • Considering that squirrels hate strong smells, peppermint is a perfect repellant. You could just dilute peppermint oil in a water bottle and spray down your yard. Or, you could plant peppermint plants around the perimeter of your yard or garden. And now you’ve also got a harvest of mint for tea.


  • There are a few flowers that you can use to keep squirrels away, as well as rabbits and deer. The only problem is that they will only repel when they are in bloom. Yet, you can count on the blooming beauties at least a few months out of the year.
  • Lily-of-the-Valley, hyacinths, daffodils, and geraniums all work well at keeping your yard (and feeders)squirrel free.


  • This plant is commonly used to make candles to keep away the bugs at your backyard barbeques. But, it also is a strong-smelling plant that squirrels do not like.
  • Filling your yard and garden will not only fend off squirrels, but you’ll also, of course, enjoy a pesky bug-free yard.

How To Keep Squirrels From Eating Bird Food

When you first hear this squirrel repellant method, you may think it couldn’t possibly be true. But, many bird enthusiasts get great results by using a dash of cayenne pepper to the birdseed in your feeders. 

squirrel upside down on cage bird feeder eating a suet ball

Cayenne Pepper In Bird Seed

This will not harm the birds, nor the squirrels. Your bird friends will still eat the feed, they won’t be bothered by the pepper powder at all since birds’ taste buds are less robust.

On the other hand, the squirrels will be repelled by the cayenne, and will not steal any seed. They will run off to find a more palatable feast, and won’t return for seconds.

How much cayenne pepper should you add to birdseed to be effective?

It’s surprisingly a small amount. About a teaspoon per 10lbs of feed should be enough to work. Sprinkle it into the bag of feed, and shake well to evenly coat the seed.

Capsaicin Bird Seed

If making DIY spicy birdseed isn’t your idea of fun, you can also purchase capsaicin bird seed. This seed has capsaicin, a natural pepper substance similar to jalapeno, that has been premixed into the bag of seed.

Squirrel Feeder

If all else fails, it may be easiest just to give your yard squirrels a feeder of their own. This will keep them occupied, full-bellied, and away from your birds. 

You can purchase specially designed squirrel feeders in many styles and price ranges. Or, you can make your own.

They love corn, and a corn cob is simple enough to string up. Put a few out to keep them busy. Replace when they’ve eaten all the kernels, or steal the cob.

If you decide to purchase the squirrels their own feeder, you can fill it with peanuts in the shell. They love to crack them open and take them back home to store for the winter.

Sunflower seeds are also a good option. Be sure to place the squirrel feeders as far away as possible from the bird feeders in order to lure them away from your more expensive birdseed. 


One thing is certain with squirrels; they’re persistent and inventive. What works one day may soon be figured out tomorrow.

By keeping the list of tips above in your squirrel deterring arsenal, you’ll have a better chance at keeping squirrels off your bird feeders.

Let me know below what you’ve had the most success with for keeping squirrels from eating all your expensive bird seed.

Rose Churchill headshot with cockatiel on her shoulder
Stephanie Rose

Avian Biologist & Bird Nerd

Head bird nerd at Spark Lark, Rose has been birdwatching for over 15 years. After working with rehabilitated wild birds as an avian biologist, she found a love of birds that has continued on. Now, she is raising her son to be an outdoor nature-loving child. Here, she shares her knowledge of attracting birds to your yard and tips for getting kids obsessed with birds.

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squirrel in Japanese maple tree reaching bird feeder pin with words how to keep squirrels off of bird feeders for good

Keep Squirrels Off Your Bird Feeders For Good

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