Squirrel Proof Feeders and Greased Poles: What Works and What Doesn’t

Most bird lovers hate squirrels. These critters damage feeders, ransack birdseed supplies and scare away birds. In attempt to outsmart the squirrels, people have tried a variety of tactics. Some are successful. Some are not. And some aren’t safe.

From squirrel proof feeders to greased poles, this post goes over the most common, tried-and-true tactics for combating bird seed-eating squirrels.

Squirrel Proof Feeders
There are squirrel proof feeders designed to keep bird seed safe. Squirrel proof feeders are either surrounded by a chew-resistant metal cage or weight-activated. The weight-activated ones shut off access to feeding ports when a squirrel jumps on it. Both work well.

Some Use Cayenne
One of the reasons why cayenne pepper repels squirrels is because it tastes bad to them. Luckily for birds, they can’t taste it, but it can be harmful.

Some people mix cayenne pepper with birdseed, typically 1-2 teaspoons to 10 pounds of birdseed. The effects of cayenne pepper wear off quickly, in a day or two. For large feeders, which you don’t need to refill often, mixing cayenne pepper with birdseed isn’t an ideal solution and is not recommended.

The other reason why mixing cayenne pepper with birdseed isn’t a good idea is because it isn’t safe for the birds or the squirrels. The point of bird feeding is to nurture our feathered friends, not harm them. The pepper can fly into their eyes and cause pain or itching.

A good way to incorporate cayenne pepper safely is by including it in a suet mix. The other ingredients, such as the lard and peanut butter, trap the pepper so it doesn’t come loose and get into bird eyes.

Another way to get the benefits of cayenne pepper in a safe way is by using a commercial squirrel repellent. The best repellents are effective for up to 30 days.

Offering an Alternate Food Source – The Jury Is Still Out

Some people install squirrel feeders or spread dried corn away from bird feeders. In theory, setting up a feeding area for the squirrels will keep them fed and deter them from ransacking your bird feeder. However, results vary.

How far is far enough? Are you attracting more squirrels? If they eat all the corn, what’s stopping them from hitting up the birdfeeder?

Since this method can’t hurt anything, you can try it to see if it helps.

Grease: Not a Good Idea

Another common tactic is covering a bird feeder pole with grease. People will use vegetable oil or petroleum jelly. While the squirrel may slide down the pole, unsuccessful at reaching the birdseed, it will probably be left with a sticky coat. This residue, especially old grease, can make the squirrel sick.

Image credit to Steven Carter.

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