It's Summer, you have your bird feeder filled to the brim with wild bird seed from your local grocers out. You think you're ready for a symphony of beautiful song birds only to find a savvy squirrel perched on your feeder enjoying the all-you-can-eat buffet with not a bird in sight. What went wrong?
Bird feeders attract more than just songbirds — often squirrels, doves, blackbirds, or other unwanted guests try to get in on some of that free food action. So how do you protect your bird feeders from these unruly visitors? Check out five ways to protect birds:
1. Use Real, Special Seed
While birds might not mind foods like safflower and hot pepper, they will be bitter or unpleasant to critters that steal your seed -- usually squirrels, doves, and blackbirds. The addition of safflower or other foods like this will help keep your seed safe from greedy guests, while ensuring that birds can still enjoy them. In addition, make sure that the seed you use is 100% edible, warns Dicorte. “Bags labeled ‘wild bird seed’ in grocery stores aren’t usually good for the birds. Some actually contain milo, which is used for cattle feed,” Dicorte says. “Wild Birds Unlimited has fresh seed that is 100% edible and actually good for the birds, which makes them come back again and again.”
2. Avoid the Danger Zone
The placement of your birdfeeder could be preventing birds from being able to access it, and enabling squirrels or other animals to get to it. Three feet or closer to your window is a safe zone, because it is enough space for a bird to realize your window is there and avoid hitting it. The danger zone is between 3-10 feet. Placing your birdfeeder over 10 feet away, while harder to see, is also an option, as birds will be too far away from the windows to hit them.
3. Baffle Squirrels with Baffles
Baffles are big dome coverings that can either go over a feeder or underneath it to protect the feeder from squirrels. According to Nick Dicorte, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited, the slick surface of the baffle ensures that squirrels will slide right off the top of the dome, making them extremely effective at squirrel prevention. Additionally, if your feeder is hanging from a pole, you can attach the baffle to the pole to keep squirrels from climbing up.
4. Use Weight-triggered Feeders
Spring loaded feeders will close off the feeder to keep squirrels from getting to it if a certain weight is triggered, says Dicorte. “You can even adjust the weight, which helps make sure your feed is going exactly to the birds you want it to go to -- and not squirrels you don’t.”
5. Get a Feeder with a Lifetime Guarantee
While there are many ways to pest-proof your feeder, it might not stand up to the biggest pest of all: time. The Wild Birds Unlimited branded bird feeders have a lifetime guarantee and can be brought into any store for repair at any time.