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Akua's avatar

Quick, I need ideas on ways to feed a variety of wild birds?

Asked by Akua (4628 points ) April 14th, 2012

I just had a confrontation with a squirrel. Over the past few weeks I have become really interested in feeding the local wild birds. They are beautiful. I went to Lowe’s and bought a feeder and the squirrels not only ate the majority of the seed but they chewed the damn thing to pieces. I went back to lowe’s and bought a bigger, metal, more expensive, so-called squirrel-proof feeder. I look out the window today and this little punk squirrel is hanging upside down eating all the seed. I ran outside twice and told him to back off. He ran up the tree and just stared at me. The look he gave me said “whatever”. As soon as he saw me go back into the house he resumed his meal! I got fed up and removed the damn feeder. Now I like squirrels and would have no problem sharing but they scare away all the birds and eat all the seed. So they have got to go. I need ideas on how I can feed a variety of wild birds and still keep most of the squirrels away. Some people on Amazon.com said they just put the birdfeeder on a table on their patio/deck. The squirrels aparently wont come that close to the house. I dont want to get one that hangs from the window because my cats will jump on the window and scare the birds away. Need help.

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22 Answers

Trillian's avatar

Hehehehe. I like to sit on the porch and feed the squirrels. I buy peanuts in the shell, and they damn well come up and take them, though not from my hand. They’ll come to within a few inches of my feet. They leave the feeders alone, and those are hanging from a tree. And the one for hummingbirds is on a big metal shepherd’s crook.
They are pretty ballsy. I had to come to a complete stop for one in the road who was picking something up. He actually looked over his shoulde at me as if to say “Hold up a minute.” then he just went back to prying whatever it was off the road. Like he knew I wasn’t going to run over his ass.

Akua's avatar

Ballsy is an understatement @Trillian. This one here pissed me off to no end. I was actually talking to him in the tree. Now my neighbors will think I’m wacko. I’m not feeding him shit.

SpatzieLover's avatar

We feed all wildlife @Akua.

If you really don’t want to feed the squirrel @Akua, your best bet is to put the feeder on a squirrel proof pole (with a top & bottom baffle) located at least 10 feet away from tree and shrub branches.

The squirrels are opportunistic feeders. If there is food, there is opportunity to eat. You’ll need to create zero opportunity if you truly are that upset with feeding it.

Your other option would be to feed only small song birds with thistle seeds. All other seeds are pretty well enjoyed by the squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons.

BTW: The idea that a squirrel won’t come to a table, a patio or near a home is ridiclous. Squirrels often try to make nests in gutters and attics. Our own yard squirrels readily come right up to trees and bushes that are within feet of our windows. Proximity to one’s home is not a deterrent. The best deterrents are specific seeds and well baffled poles.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You quoted:“The squirrels apparently won’t come that close to the house.” Baloney! The squirrels ate my MIL’s bird seed wreath in a day – and it was attached to the house! They are relentless.
If you want to feed the birds and not the squirrels you need to take drastic action.
Here are some choices with increasing levels of permanence:
1) Put the bird feeder on a squirrel proof pole far away from the house.
2) Hang feeders from a tree but wrap three strips of metal window screen around the base of the tree and wire it directly to 110 volt house current through a 1 kohm resistor.
3) CCI .22 Segmented subsonics.

Unless you do something early in the season you might as well figure on spending time, money and aggravation on the squirrels. I didn’t mind them until I saw one go into an occupied kestrel box. It either ate the eggs or the chicks. That put me over the edge. Now my place is a regular bird sanctuary.

bkcunningham's avatar

Use safflower seeds. Don’t mix it with other seeds. Just straight safflower seeds. Squirrels don’t like them and will leave your feeders alone.

Akua's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yes “WE” also feed all wildlife and as I stated the problem wasn’t sharing the food with the squirrels, it was them bullying the birds away from the feeder which is the reason why I spent $60 on birdfeeders in the first place. I have had no problems with the raccoons, beavers or groundhog (which by the way lives under my shed rent free). I leave food out for everyone but the squirrels are the only ones causing a problem. @LuckyGuy I think your right. As I’m typing this the little fellow is staring at me through the window. Did he just put up his middle finger? Good suggestion @bkcunningham I will try that. Do most wild birds eat safflower seeds if you don’t mind me asking?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Akua We don’t allow our squirrels to bully the song birds. We seperate our feeders for variety in our yard. We attract the squirrels, chippies and the woodpeckers/flickers to the large trees with suet, nuts, and tree butter.

The song bird feeders are in protected areas. The oriole feeders are spread throughout.

The duck feeders are in two corners and the bird baths are sprinkled about ;)

IAs long as everyone is well fed, there isn’t competition to be had.

Brian1946's avatar

Just put some fresh mouse or rat meat on a pole. That way you’ll get some righteous raptors visiting your yard, which will take care of your squirrel and future-feeding issues. ;-)

john65pennington's avatar

You will never outsmart a squirrel. They came into the world knowing how to steal the feed for the birds.

This works: buy some corn on the cob and place it in another part of your yard. This food is for the sqiurrels and is a great diversion to separate the squirrels from the birds.

bkcunningham's avatar

As someone explained to me when I discovered safflower seeds to keep the squirrels from raiding and destroying my feeders; birds don’t have very many taste buds, @Akua. Most smaller song birds like safflower seeds, however larger birds like starlings don’t seem to like them.

Akua's avatar

@SpatzieLover wow you have it all figured out. You have a grand system. I’m learning, okay so I will combine a few of the answers I got here. I will do as @john65pennington and @SpatzieLover suggested and put food for squirrel somewhere else as a diversion. I just happen to have some corn on the cob in the fridge right now (what else can I feed the squirrels to keep them occupied?). I’ll put the corn cob on spikes on the side of the house away from the tree that the birdseed/Safflower seed is on. I’ll also get seperate feeders for songbirds. @Brian1946 WTF?!?!

Coloma's avatar

Welcome to wildlife management 101. I gave up feeding the birds not only because of the gray squirrels during the day but the flying squirrels at night AND the deer that rear up on their hind legs and head butt the feeders to knock them down or spill the seed. lol
You MIGHT be able to distract the squirrels with dried corn cobs placed in other places away from the feeders but, if they want the seed ( sunflower seed is a major gourmet meal for many creatures ) bad enough they WILL find a way to get it.
Now I only have Hummingbird feeders.

Another thing you can try is making a mix of peanut butter and cornmeal and stuffing it in pine cones or a small log with 1–2 inch holes drilled in it. Squirrels go “nuts’ for peanut butter, OR…start buying bags of unshelled peanuts and doling them out in other places.
Once wildlife makes a discovery of free food there is not much you can really do.
Shit, I bought 100 lbs. of cracked corn and put it out for the deer once and they preferred eating the chicken feed instead! haha

Good luck, nature is a force to be reckoned with so do not fall under any illusion little ol’ you will be the reconciler. lol

ccrow's avatar

I use this type of baffle on my poles, which are the wrought-iron, stick-in-the-ground type. They work great! Every once in awhile, an especially smart or determined squirrel will figure out that it can jump at one and ricochet off it to one of the other poles, above the baffle. I’m sure if I moved them further apart that would stop. They still come and eat the seed on the ground, but that’s ok; that is, they do when my chickens aren’t already there.

Akua's avatar

@Coloma you have a point. @ccrow checking it out now.

syz's avatar

You have several simple options.

If you have an open space to place a pole, you can use a squirrel baffle. As long as you place it far enough away from any trees that they can’t jump laterally onto it, I guarantee that it will work. I have a 4-prong pole that allows me to hang different types if feeders with different types of feed to maximize the species that I see.

Another elegant solution is this feeder. It works very well and is inexpensive (I hang mine further away so they can’t pull it over towards them like the example in the beginning of the video).

While feeders like the Yankee flipper and tipper fun, they’re really expensive, and not necessary.

(I have all of the above, and a total of 7 feeding stations. I count something like 37 species of birds that regularly visit. I go through a lot o food.)

Keep in mind that the type of seed that you use will also affect the number and variety of birds that visit you feeders. Don’t buy the cheap crap with the brown millet seed in it. Use black oil sunflower as your base food, and then experiment with thistle, peanut mixes, etc.

bkcunningham's avatar

@syz, that is the first time I’ve seen the Eliminator. What a great idea. I’m afraid my squirrels would put a stick in the hole and keep on eating. Seriously, thanks for posting. Really ingenious.

syz's avatar

@bkcunningham My first one was given to me as a gift, and I was dubious to say the least. But it works like a charm!

(If I use safflower, I only get cardinals, and not very many, at that.)

ccrow's avatar

I wish I could get cardinals…:-(

lillycoyote's avatar

LOL. Welcome to the squirrel wars. I wish you the best of luck. I am convinced that the squirrels in my yard have a war room and I imagine them meeting in there with diagrams, spec sheets and making power point presentations on how to attack and disable my so- called “squirrel-proof” bird feeders. No baffle, no technique, no bird feeder, and I have tried many, has ever been able to stop them.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t see squirrels here but I have problems with cute little mousies, occasional possoms and every now and then a rat. I must admit I buy the cheap seed at the grocery store and don’t attract much more than the sparrows. I am going to buy some sunflower seeds and see what that will bring to my yard. There are brilliant red parrots with blue wings all around, I would love to have them come in.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@syz and @bkcunningham I like the idea of the Eliminator. I wonder if the squirrels eventually learn to hang from above and grab the seeds without touching the ring.

ccrow's avatar

I had an Eliminator-type feeder- it worked fine, but it was so long that the squirrels could jump up on it, then from there, onto the other feeders. I gave it to my daughter:-)

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