When a squirrel decides that your bird feeder must surely be a food source you put out just for him, what can you do? You might think that you have to accept that if you have squirrels and feed birds that they will be getting into the feeders and there is nothing you can do about it. But after many years of feeding birds, I have found that you don’t have to give into squirrels. You just need to observe how the squirrels are getting into the feeder(s), think creatively and be willing to consider and try a variety of possible solutions.
Here in Maryland today, the sun is shining and the wind is gusting. It is beautiful, but gusty wind can sometimes cause problems with hanging feeders.
If you’ve got both hanging bird feeders and squirrels in your yard, you probably have baffles as well. Get the right baffle and you can succeed in both keeping squirrels out of the seed and keeping the feeder a little more protected from wet weather. But while this type of baffle can be great, when you add gusty winds to the mix, things can get very interesting. How do you keep the baffled feeder from kiting around in the wind?
Over the summer I thought I had come to terms with the squirrels in my yard. During these warm months they would come to the feeders for maybe an hour or so in the morning and then only occasionally during the rest of the day. The birds got plenty of feeder time so I didn’t begrudge the squirrels a little food.
But once the acorn crop was finished in the fall, the squirrel activity changed. The squirrels started hunkering down on various feeders, one squirrel per feeder, for hours. Chase them away and they come right back. In most cases, squirrels are the top of the backyard critter hierarchy, so the birds were being crowded out.
The hanging platform feeder in particular had been taken over by the squirrels when it hung in a tree with a dome type baffle above it. The only way to keep them out of it was to switch over to filling it with safflower seed instead of sunflower hearts, although if a squirrel is hungry enough they’ll eat that too! What to do?