How to Stop Squirrels and Other Animals From Raiding Your Bird Feeders

Don't let squirrels, raccoons, and other unwanted visitors take over the spot.

<p>Leonora Oates / Getty Images</p>

Leonora Oates / Getty Images

Squirrels, mice, raccoons, and other animals love snacking on the bird seed you put in your feeders, making it harder for small avians to count on you when they are hungry. If this is something you're experiencing in your own yard, chances are your birdwatching opportunities have been less than exciting as of late. To ensure your feeders are only welcoming invited guests, we're sharing some expert-approved ways to keep other animals away from your bird seed supply.

Meet the Expert

Related: 10 Bird Feeders That Will Attract Hummingbirds, Finches, and More to Your Yard

Keep Feeders Out of Reach

One of the most effective ways to keep squirrels and other non-flying animals away from bird feeders is to place the feeders out of reach. "Placing the feeders away from 'launch points,' such as nearby trees that a squirrel could jump from to get to a feeder, is a good way to keep those seeds out of reach," says Emma Grieg, leader of Project FeederWatch, a survey by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada.

Use a Baffle

Baffles can keep squirrels, mice, and raccoons away from feeders. “Baffles vary in shape and size but are typically domed, circular metal or plastic structures added to a feeder pole or cable intended to keep animals like squirrels from climbing onto a feeder," says Joanna Eckles, bird city network coordinator at American Bird Conservancy. Keep in mind that squirrels are notoriously crafty and may still even find a way to breach a baffle.

Install a Seed Tray

Install trays under your bird feeders to keep seeds from falling to the ground. Fallen seeds can attract unwanted animals who may move to your bird feeders once the spilled food is gone. Some suburban areas even prohibit ground feeding because it can increase the population of rats, an invasive species, says Eckles, adding that this depends on the area you live in.

Related: 14 Things You Should Never Put in Bird Feeders, According to Experts

Avoid Using a Platform Tray

A platform tray may be one of the easiest types of bird feeders to fill and maintain, but it leaves the seed especially vulnerable to unwanted guests. The seed, which sits on an open tray, can make bird food easy for animals like raccoons, mice, and rats to enjoy.

Use Tube Feeders

Some larger bird species, like starlings and grackles, try to take over the feeder, which can prevent smaller avians from enjoying your food supply. One way to keep bully birds at bay is to use tube feeders with small feeding ports and short perches, which give food access to small species.

Use a Weight-Sensitive Bird Feeder

Another type of feeder that can keep unwanted animals from eating bird seed is a weight-sensitive feeder. These are triggered to close when large animals or bigger birds approach, preventing them from getting to seeds, says Grieg.

Related: Why You Should Never Plant Nandina Shrubs, According to Bird Experts

Protect Your Bird Seed Supply

To keep your supply of bird seed safe from rain, snow, and free-loaders, store it in a metal container. "Secure the top with a medium-weight chain and hooks from the hardware store," says Eckles. "Most mammals will make quick work of bungee cords and plastic storage bins and have their fill."

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