6 of the Best Squirrel Baffles (and Other Ways To Confound Persistent Squirrels)

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For as long as people have been feeding backyard birds, squirrels have been the birdwatcher’s sworn enemy.

One study by University of Reading researchers published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning found that on average, gray squirrels accounted for 44 percent of bird feeder visits.

When gray squirrels were present, they prevented birds from sharing the feeder over 99.99 percent of the time. While some people enjoy feeding squirrels, people who prefer seeing the birds in their backyard are tasked with coming up with solutions to keep squirrels off their feeders.

This is often easier said than done. Squirrels are intuitive animals that have a way of besting many human attempts to keep them away from bird feeders.

So, how can you feed the birds without feeding the squirrels? There are a couple of ways you can go about it.

Product Name
Top Wrap-Around Cone Baffle
Woodlink Audubon Wrap Around Squirrel Baffle
Top Cage-Style Bird Feeder
Audubon Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Top Weight-Activated Squirrel Feeder
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder
Image
Woodlink NABAF18 Audubon Wrap Around Squirrel Baffle, 18-Inch - Black
Audubon Squirrel Proof Caged Tube Type Bird Feeder Model NATUBE3
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder, Model 23803
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Alloy Steel
Made From Metal
Made From Alloy Steel
Target Species
Squirrel
Dove, Squirrel
Squirrel
Weight
2.75 pounds
2.1 pounds
1 pounds
Size
18 x 18 x 7 inches
9 x 9 x 15.5 inches
13.5 x 16 x 11.25 inches
Top Wrap-Around Cone Baffle
Product Name
Woodlink Audubon Wrap Around Squirrel Baffle
Image
Woodlink NABAF18 Audubon Wrap Around Squirrel Baffle, 18-Inch - Black
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Alloy Steel
Target Species
Squirrel
Weight
2.75 pounds
Size
18 x 18 x 7 inches
Top Cage-Style Bird Feeder
Product Name
Audubon Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Image
Audubon Squirrel Proof Caged Tube Type Bird Feeder Model NATUBE3
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Metal
Target Species
Dove, Squirrel
Weight
2.1 pounds
Size
9 x 9 x 15.5 inches
Top Weight-Activated Squirrel Feeder
Product Name
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder
Image
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder, Model 23803
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Alloy Steel
Target Species
Squirrel
Weight
1 pounds
Size
13.5 x 16 x 11.25 inches

Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Buy a squirrel baffle

Perhaps the most common way is a squirrel baffle. Squirrels can easily climb bird feeder poles, so a squirrel baffle is attached to the midsection of a bird feeder pole to prevent squirrels from climbing the pole to access your feeder.

They’re usually made of powder-coated steel, and come in either cone or torpedo shapes, both of which work fairly well in preventing squirrels from heading straight up your feeder poles.

Both should get the job done, and there isn’t really a functional advantage to either of them. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and aesthetics.

Most cone squirrel baffles can be installed right on the pole without removing your bird feeder. One good example of a wrap-around cone baffle is the Woodlink Audubon Wrap Around Squirrel Baffle. It fits poles between half an inch and 1⅜ inches in diameter. They’re relatively inexpensive and will probably save you that much in bird seed costs in short order.

Sale
Woodlink NABAF18 Audubon Wrap Around Squirrel Baffle, 18-Inch - Black
  • Made of textured powder coated steel
  • Defeats squirrels every time
  • No need to remove bird feeder when mounting

Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Woodlink Audubon Torpedo Steel Squirrel Baffle works in a similar fashion and costs a similar amount. If you prefer the aesthetics of a thinner baffle like this one, that narrow, slender look is definitely a positive.

Audubon Torpedo Steel Squirrel Baffle Model NATORPEDO
  • Torpedo shaped steel squirrel baffle
  • Made of textured powder-coated steel
  • Includes coupler for mounting to any pole 1/2" to 1 3/8" in diameter (Pole not included)

Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

One downside is that your feeder will have to be removed to install the baffle, but once it’s on there, you’ll hopefully never have to do it again.

Squirrels are strong vertical jumpers, so be sure to place your baffle about four feet off the ground, and adjust accordingly if squirrels are still getting up over the squirrel guard.

They are also great at jumping laterally, covering great distances when lunging from a bush or a tree to your feeder. With this in mind, place your bird feeders at least 10 feet from any hanging tree branches, bushes, or other squirrel access points like patio furniture or tall rocks.

Avoid using oil or petroleum jelly to grease the pole and make it hard for squirrels to climb the pole. While it may seem harmless and funny to watch the squirrels slip and slide on their way up your bird feeders, greasy substances are nearly impossible for birds and animals to get out of their feathers or fur.

If they come into contact with grease or oil, it can diminish bird feathers’ waterproofing and insulation, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Other squirrel-baffling techniques

A metal squirrel baffle isn’t the only technique employed by bird watchers. From different foods to squirrel-proof feeders, inventive birdwatchers have found a few ways to deter squirrels.

Squirrel-proof feeders

Over the years, the wonders of technology have produced numerous bird feeder models that limit squirrel access. It’s hard to know which squirrel-proof feeder is actually squirrel-proof, however.

So many boast that they baffle squirrels, but it’s not always clear how they do it. Here’s a quick breakdown of a couple of different squirrel-proof feeder models that actually work.

Cage-style bird feeder

The secret to limiting squirrels on your feeder could be as simple as a cage-type of feeder. These styles enclose a standard feeder inside of a thin steel cage, which birds can sneak through easily, while squirrels are left on the outside, hopelessly reaching for the inner tube. Take this Audubon feeder, for example.

Audubon Squirrel Proof Caged Tube Type Bird Feeder Model NATUBE3
  • Squirrel Proof ABS plastic mixed seed tube feeder with four seed ports
  • Seed ports are totally enclosed in a sturdy powdercoated steel cage
  • Forest green finish bird feeder holds up to 1.25 lbs of mixed seed

Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

While squirrels are kept out, smaller rodents like chipmunks will still be able to find their way in, and there’s the other possible side effect of limiting what birds can access the feeder. This can be either good or bad.

For example, you may want to keep large birds like grackles out to keep smaller birds a chance at feeding. The gaps on a feeder like this one aren’t big enough for grackles to fit through. Some may be able to stretch out and reach their bills to where the food is, but it won’t be an all-day grackle feeding frenzy like it is for some bird watchers.

On the other hand, larger birds like blue jays and even cardinals could also be turned away by the steel cage. A tube feeder like this is probably best filled with thistle (nyjer) anyway, and smaller birds like finches, who love thistle, will have no problem navigating the barrier.

There are also caged suet feeders available such as this More Birds Suet Feeder if squirrels are wreaking havoc on your suet feeders. The length between the cage and the inner suet feeder likely isn’t enough to limit birds like grackles or starlings, but squirrels won’t be able to reach their paws in and come away with food.

Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Woodpeckers, which are known to love suet, will likely still be able to reach in and get to the food source. If you find that woodpeckers are deterred by the extra barrier, you may want to consider switching things up.

Weight-activated squirrel feeder

Technological advancements in the bird-feeding world have produced feeders that have motors in their base, such as this Droll Yankees Yankee Flipper feeder.

Sale
Droll Yankees YF-M Yankee Flipper Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder, 17.25", Green
  • SQUIRREL-PROOF: The motorized perch ring is designed to start spinning under the weight of a squirrel to 'flip' the squirrel off...
  • CAPACITY: Tube bird feeder holds up to five pounds of birdseed and has four feeding ports
  • DURABILITY: Bird feeder is constructed of heavy duty metal base and cap. The seed tube is UV-stabilized polycarbonate and won't...

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The bases of feeders like this one are weight-activated. When too much weight is perched upon the feeder, such as a squirrel, the feeder will spin, sending the squirrel flying like a rodeo cowboy.

It doesn’t harm the squirrels, but they’re not able to hold on as the feeder’s base spins in such a tight, fast motion.

Others like this Woodlink Absolute model work in a way that the weight of a squirrel pulls down the perch and closes access to the feeder’s seed ports.

Sale
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder, Model 23803
  • Durable powder coated steel body
  • Squirrel's weight on perch closes access to seed
  • Locking top

Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It carries a hefty total of 15 pounds of seed, providing plenty of food for the birds while keeping squirrels away.

You may worry that your feeder will spin or close its ports with the weight of too many birds, but it’s typically not much of a concern. Most squirrels weigh over a pound, which is enough to set the feeder in motion. However, even the largest backyard songbirds likely won’t have any issues.

For example, adult cardinals usually weigh less than two ounces, so a feeder that spins at the weight of a pound would need eight adult cardinals to perch on it at one time.

The downside to feeders like this one is the cost. Many spinning feeders can be on the high end of the bird feeder cost scale. If they are north of your budget, don’t feel like expensive feeders are the only option. There are budget-friendly alternatives out there for you to try.

Food choices

One fix that’s easy to try is buying bird seed flavored with hot peppers. While your feathery friends are unable to feel the effects of spicy peppers, squirrels will instantly know the difference, and they won’t like it.

Bird seeds like this Wild Delight Sizzle N’ Heat mix combine typical bird favorites like sunflower seeds and peanuts with hot chili peppers. Squirrels and other mammals can’t stand the heat. They may try it once, but they likely won’t be seen coming back for more.

Wild Delight Sizzle N' Heat Bird Food, 5 lb
  • Wholesome nuts that most desirable Birds crave
  • Premium hot blend designed for birds only
  • These hot seeds are an effective squirrel deterrent

Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Specialty seed mixes with chili peppers can be a bit on the expensive side, although the seed that’s saved by not feeding squirrels likely makes up for the increased up-front cost.

Hot pepper-flavored suet or suet dough is also available, such as this C&S No-Melt Suet Dough or St. Albans Bay Suet Cake Packs. Similar to hot pepper seed, the suet contains hints of spicy peppers that the squirrels don’t care for.

Sale
C&S 100214325 Hot Pepper Delight, 11.75 Ounce (Pack of 12), None
  • Perfect for year-round bird feeding
  • Ingredients include corn, roasted peanuts, rendered beef suet, oats, and soy oil, Pepper (Red
  • Attracts a variety of birds

Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Suet is a relatively inexpensive, high-energy food that woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches love. While squirrels love it too, even the scent of chili peppers could be enough to send them in another direction.

Suet Plus Suet Cake Packs (Hot Pepper Blend)
  • 12 Suet Cakes individually wrapped 11 oz. packages
  • Easy Open, No Mess Packaging 100% recyclable, Environmentally Friendly
  • Made in USA

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Safflower

Another option that may work in some areas is simply adding more safflower seed to your bird feeder offerings.

Cardinals and grosbeaks are among the birds that love safflower, a thick-shelled white seed shaped similarly to sunflower seeds.

While many people report that squirrels and European starlings don’t like the bitter taste of safflower seeds, others say that squirrels have begun to develop a liking for it.

Safflower is often included in pre-mixed bird seed, but you can also buy it on its own.

Feeding squirrels elsewhere to free up your feeders

One less advanced option that may not work completely but could free up some space on your feeder is giving squirrels access to food in a location that’s easy to reach.

While squirrels can deplete a seed supply in a hurry, you can at least try to keep them off your bird feeders by putting a tray of seed on the ground, giving birds a chance to feed on the feeder, and leaving the ground to the squirrels.

It won’t be 100 percent effective, but it could keep a little bit of squirrel activity off of your feeders. There’s also no extra cost, aside from the extra seed that the squirrels and ground birds will eat.

Remember the slinky?

Slinkies, the famous coiling metal toys invented in the 1940s that travel gracefully over a flight of stairs, can be repurposed as squirrel baffles as well.

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It’ll take a little bit of ingenuity on your part, but if you can connect a slinky to the pole of your bird feeder and hang it vertically around the base of the pole, any squirrel that grabs onto the slinky will pull down the coils under their weight.

Squirrels may be athletic animals, but similar to the spinning bird feeders mentioned above, squirrels usually won’t be able to hold on as the slinky’s momentum springs it up and down.

A slinky is relatively inexpensive as far as squirrel baffles go, although you’ll have to find a clever way to attach it.

Use Irish Spring soap (it’s worth a shot!)

Some people say that a bar of Irish Spring soap keeps small mammals like mice and squirrels away, but there isn’t much beyond anecdotal evidence for these claims.

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Irish Spring Deodorant Soap Original Bar, 3 Count 3.75 Ounce, 4 Packs, Total 12 Bars
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However, if you’ve got an extra bar of soap laying around, it’s worth a try to see if it works for you. It could even be a fun, inexpensive experiment to run in your backyard, and if it doesn’t produce results, you’re only out one bar of soap.

Put the bar of soap near your feeder and see if the squirrels continue to come around. If they do, you can bring your soap back in and try something else.

Do squirrel-resistant feeding techniques work for other mammals like raccoons?

Most of the techniques listed above will work for raccoons as well as squirrels. A squirrel baffle will likely be enough to keep raccoons off of feeders, and they will be far too big to maneuver through squirrel-proof feeders.

Smaller mammals like mice and chipmunks will be able to beat squirrel-proof feeders if they want to, although these animals are more commonly seen on the ground than up on feeders, so that likely won’t be much of a problem.

Is any feeder truly squirrel-proof?

In the end, no matter what you try, squirrels may find their way onto your bird feeders. They’re wild animals, and the key to their survival is finding enough food, so they’re going to do everything they can to find an easy meal.

While squirrel baffles are great, squirrels might be able to find their way over them. Motorized squirrel-proof spinning feeders’ batteries may die or not always perfectly sense the weight on their base. Squirrels can develop a taste for safflower or get used to the smell of soap. This stuff happens.

With this in mind, you’re never likely to 100 percent beat squirrels at this game, but you can likely limit how much of your food is used on rodents compared to birds.

It may take some trial and error to find out what works best for you, and it may ultimately be a combination of multiple squirrel defense mechanisms.

Hopefully, with a little bit of effort, you can save your bird feeders for the birds. But when all else fails, some bird watchers simply give in and accept defeat in the fight against squirrels’ bird seed thievery.

While they might scare off some birds and eat up lots of bird seed, squirrels are a fact of life, and they’ve coexisted with birds for millions of years.

If you can’t beat them, you may as well embrace the squirrels in your backyard.

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Jacob Swanson

Jacob Swanson is a writer and wildlife photographer born and raised in Wisconsin and currently based in Salt Lake City. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his work has appeared in over a dozen different web and print outlets. In his free time, he’s on a personal quest to visit every U.S. national park and see as many wildlife species as possible. His favorite birds are whooping and sandhill cranes.