Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Summary: The squirrel proof bird feeder has evolved into a sophisticated, engineered device that provides guarantees on product effectiveness. Somebody had better tell the squirrels.
Who would have suspected a thriving industry in the design and manufacture of bird feeds and a specific niche market within the bird feeder market for squirrel-proof bird feeders? Go on line and there are pages and pages of different shapes, sizes and strategies for keeping squirrels out of bird feeders.
As a pest control professional I can tell you that squirrels are persistent, inquisitive creatures who seldom take œno for answer, especially when food is involved. One of their very favorite foods is, you guessed it, birdseed. So, put out a standard feeder and quick as a wink, the seed will be gone. You'll say to yourself, œGee! I didn't even get to see any birds feeding. I wonder how that happened? Stick around and you'll soon see how many four legged, bushy-tailed neighbors you have. Word spreads like wildfire and squirrels will come from several acres away and they will bring their friends and relatives, too.
By the way, once you have attracted the squirrels you can be sure they will spend some type appraising your house. It is not as if they want to buy it, of course, but they do want to live in it rent-free. Squirrels will quickly mount an ambitious effort to find the most vulnerable point of entry into your nice, warm attic. After gaining entry they will expedite their housekeeping and start raising a family. Oh, you get the picture. Lots of damage to wires, roofing and siding and lots of money to remove squirrels, repair damages and squirrel-proof your house. With all that in mind, let's talk about squirrel-proof bird feeders.
Many so-called squirrel-proof bird feeders use dome-like guards to keep squirrels out of the seed bins. Some use weight-based devices that are supposed to close off access to the seed when something heavy lands on the protective overhead dome. Sounds like a logical idea, but what we've seen is squirrels figure out this system in due time. You'll know it is time to reopen your squirrel-proof feeder research files when you see squirrels launching themselves at your hanging feeders. At first glance you see the squirrels quickly falling off the feeders as they attempt to get at the seed. You think, œsuccess! But, watch closely, because the squirrels have figured out that if they hit the feeder enough seed falls to the ground to provide a meal.
So, it's back to the drawing board and this time you look at SquirrelStop or the Yankee Flipper. These little gadgets allow the squirrel to slide down the cylindrical seed tube, but when they touch the circular bird perch at the bottom, their weight triggers a batter powered motor to make the perch spin causing the squirrels to fly off into space unharmed. That is, unless you position this feeder over a swimming pool. Then, you have created the instant squirrel-bait-euthanizer device.
There are also some fairly complex systems called roller feeders that look like traditional birdhouse feeders. However, when the squirrel drops down on the roof the exterior housing rotates or rolls, causing the squirrel to fly off. The birdseed sits in the hub of the device and does not roll. This one keeps larger birds from feeding and comes with accessory choices like sizes of perches, colors and spin sensitivity. "I'd like mine with a four on the floor Hurst shifter, please!"
There is yet another way to discourage squirrels without plunking down a lot of bucks for one of the aforementioned feeders. How about putting a type of seed in the feeders that squirrels do not like? There are seeds like safflower that are favorites of chickadees, cardinals and more, but which squirrels do not particularly like. White millet and niger thistle seed are also seeds that squirrels seem to pass by. Not technologically advanced enough? Okay, keep reading and you'll find a few more Rube Goldberg-like ideas.
There is the squirrel Bouncer that is a feeder design that allows small birds to perch, but the perch collapses under the weight of squirrels or larger birds. There is also a wire cage device that allows small birds to slip though the cage bars into the area where the seed treasure is held. Squirrels cannot reach the inter-sanctum. The Pavilion offers a platform for the birds to land and walk under a little roof. On the floor of the feeder is a wire grid that birds can peck at for their seed. Squirrels simply make the platform flip unsteadily.
This can go on and on, but I have learned that I want a feeder that does not spill seed on the ground. That seems to be the real key to discouraging squirrels while still allowing me to feed my little feathered friends.