How to Stymie a Squirrel: Intervention Techniques from Cornell Lab of Ornithology Fans

If you have a bird feeder, chances are you’ve done battle with tiny assailants driven by hunger and instinct. You’ve been attacked, you’ve countered, and you’ve lost. That’s right, I’m talking about Squirrel Wars. How the heck does a birder deter the buggers? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology posed the question on its Facebook page and printed nine coping strategies in BirdScope (Winter 2011), gleaned from fans’ ideas, which apparently “ran the gamut.” (Request a copy of Birdscope, while supplies last, here.)

Five of BirdScope's nine printed suggestions follow. Can you think of any more defense methods?


1. Obstruction. The most common tactic we heard was to put up some kind of baffle along the squirrel’s access route. Paint can lids, plastic funnels, stovepipe sections, and old LPs and CDs are hard to navigate around. But alas, not impossible.
2. Isolation. If you have the right yard layout, hanging your feeder away from trees and other high points may keep away squirrel paratroop squads.
3. Combination. Perhaps the most telling sign of the resourcefulness of squirrels is the number of commenters who resort to a combination of tactic, realizing that there is no single method of squirrelproofing.
4. Innovation. Feeders with built-in baffles; wire squirrel guards; counterweighted tray doors that slam shut under a squirrel’s weight; battery-operated feeders intended to fling mammalian invaders aside--anti-squirrel feeders are a testament to the human imagination. Unfortunately, shortly after they go up, they're often testament to squirrelish imagination as well.
5. Capitulation. "Squirrels are birds, too." "Feed them both." "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." These were some of the happiest responses we heard. Perhaps the surest route to peace of mind lies in making peace. Just don't call it surrender.

If the squirrel in the video below is any representation of its brethren, I’d personally recommend #5 and save yourself some headache. (See my related blog post here.)






“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”