Squirrels - How to keep them out of your bird feeders

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Last Updated: 
December 31, 2007

CORVALLIS - Tiptoeing along utility wires or chasing each other around a tree trunk, squirrels are entertaining yard residents. But when they raid the bird feeder, they become pests.

Oregon has three native species of tree squirrels - the western gray squirrel, the red squirrel and the Douglas squirrel, explained Dan Edge, wildlife specialist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

There are also two common introduced species, the eastern gray and eastern fox squirrels, who have naturalized themselves in yards and city parks. Another native species, the Northern flying squirrel, is rarely seen by people, as these rodents are nocturnal.

Most squirrels can leap at least five feet, especially when there's food to give them extra incentive. There are some commercial bird feeders available designed to close when a squirrel gets on them. But there are other options besides buying a new bird feeder. To keep squirrels from raiding bird feeders, Edge recommends a few simple deterrents:

  • Offer squirrels a separate feeder with sunflower seeds and cracked or whole corn.

  • Hang bird feeders more than five feet away from any squirrel launching areas.
  • Put bird feeders on metal posts or surround a post with a sheet metal cone.
  • Hang feeder from plastic coated wire to minimize a squirrel chewing through the wire.

And remember - squirrels have been known to bite the hand that feeds them. Do not offer food by hand.

Author: Carol Savonen
Source: Dan Edge