Many bird lovers have the “squirrel vs. bird” problem when it comes to feeding. You set up a feeding station for your backyard birds or attach a bird feeder to a tree. And before you know it, there’s a little squirrel happily feasting on the food. Because squirrels are true acrobats and get their food in the most possible and impossible positions. But how can you feed birds without squirrels eating everything?
Squirrels may drive your backyard birds away from the feeder. Usually squirrels just take over the feeder and keep the birds from getting the food. So the best thing to do is to set up a separate feeder for both animals in the garden, and do it in such a way that no one steals from the other. A fight between squirrel and bird for food doesn’t have to be! Here you will learn how to satisfy both species in your garden so that no one goes hungry!
How to feed birds without attracting squirrels?
The best solution to feed birds without attracting squirrels is to provide different food for birds and squirrels. There are some foods, seeds and nuts that birds particularly like and squirrels do not. So fill your bird feeder with individual foods that squirrels don’t like. For squirrels, then, provide a separate feeder with their favorite nuts.
The following seeds are especially liked by birds, but not by squirrels. They are therefore ideal for filling the bird feeder or bird house. What should birds not eat?
Niger seeds: These seeds, also known as “thistle seeds,” are the favorite food of goldfinches and siskins. Squirrels will not eat these seeds. It is best to offer the niger seeds in a feeder, otherwise there is a risk that the light seeds will be carried away by the wind.
White millet: This is a small seed that is popular with birds that pick their food off the ground. These include sparrows, finches, and goldfinches, for example. You should generally provide the seeds either on the ground or in low bowls.
Safflower seed: This is a seed that tits, in particular, love to eat. It is not their favorite seed; they would rather have black oil sunflower seeds. But it’s not the squirrels’ favorite either.
Squirrel-proof bird feeder
In addition to choosing food, you can also set up a “squirrel-proof” bird feeder. There are several ways to do this:
- feeders that are controlled by weight: These feeders are designed so that only birds have access, but squirrels do not. As soon as a heavier bird or squirrel takes a seat on the ledge, the feed openings close automatically.
- feeding column with cage around it: these feeders are equipped with a plastic-coated protective grid that keeps larger birds and also squirrels away from the treats. Only small songbirds can get through the struts.
When buying bird feeders or feeding columns, it is important to rely on good quality, so that the feeder also lifts for a long time. This is because all wooden and plastic birdhouses can be damaged by squirrels if they get there. Most damage occurs when seeds are hard to come by, such as when feeders are almost empty. Squirrels will gnaw on wood or plastic to get the last few seeds.
Separate feeding place for squirrels
Offer squirrels a separate feeding area – with only their favorite foods. By offering the squirrels their favorite food in your yard, you can keep them away from the birdhouse. Provide squirrels with their own bird feeder or feeding station and fill it with, for example, hazelnuts or walnuts, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, beechnuts, chestnuts or corn on the cob, as well as seeds from pine, spruce and fir trees. The little rodents also don’t say no to fresh or dried fruit.
Here you can find the best squirrel feeders for your garden.
You can either buy special food mixtures for squirrels in specialized stores. These often contain seeds, small nuts and corn. Or you can prepare the food yourself – in autumn you can easily collect the appropriate food in the forest.
How to arrange feeding house for squirrels?
There are special feeding stations for squirrels, which should not be placed near humans or within reach of cats. It is best to mount the feeder high in a tree or hang a small feeding basket on branches to provide species-appropriate feeding. Feeders and food boxes with a flap or a special mechanism that is easy to use but still a challenge for the animals are also very popular. Special feed dispensers that do not need to be refilled daily are also particularly practical.
So the food is best provided somewhere in an elevated place in the garden. If this is not possible, you can also put it on the ground, for example at the foot of a tree. Because then the squirrel can access it directly from the tree. This way it can still get a good view of its surroundings and keep an eye out for enemies. Of course, you should make sure that you do not put the food in places where cats or dogs pass by!
Why should you feed squirrels in winter?
Squirrels become much less active in winter, but they do not hibernate like hedgehogs or dormice. Already at the beginning of autumn squirrels start to build up their winter stock and collect nuts, acorns and other tree fruits. They bury the collected provisions in different places in the ground and bring them out when there is a food shortage. Especially the female needs enough food in winter to feed herself and her young. This is because squirrels begin mating in December, so that after a 38-day gestation period females give birth to their first litter of young in the goblet as early as the beginning of February.
And here we come to an important reason why you should feed squirrels in winter:
Cold temperatures lead to frost and snow. When the ground is severely frozen, the small rodents may not be able to get their winter food supply and thus find themselves in dire straits. A blanket of snow also makes it difficult to find new food. Therefore, it is recommended to help squirrels forage only during the winter rather than year-round.