Garden & Lawn

6 Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders – After testing and handy tips

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Don’t get me wrong, I really love to see squirrels in my garden and we have 3 regular visitors. However, my wife is really into feeding the birds and the squirrels were really becoming a problem as were the larger birds like the pigeons and jackdaws which I talked about in my review of my tested pigeon proof bird feeders.

The problem with the 3 Whisker Bandits, that what we call the 3 bushy tailed visitors. Not only were they eating the majority of the food even though they have their own squirrel feeders just for them, but they were also causing significant damage to the feeders to get to the seed. I’ve even set up a couple of garden trail cameras to see what birds I’m getting on the feeders and it’s amazing the variety of birds I now get in my garden.

My Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder which is probably the best squirrel proof bird feeder
My Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder which is probably the best squirrel proof bird feeder

Using my garden trail camera, I actually managed to catch a failed attempt by Bushy-tailed Bella (thats what we named one of them) at getting any bird seed out of the feeder thanks to this Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder. This is probably my favorite feeder and certainly the most effective. None of them have manged to outsmart this feeder design. Check out this short clip below!

A short clip in my garden of how effective the Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder was and it shows how it works!
Squirrel taking advantage of the free food so I decided it time to test some squirrel proof bird feeders to see how well they work.
My bird feeders before upgrading to several squirrel proof bird feeders

As you can see in my picture above, I had previously used standard bird feeders and we had three squirrels regularly visiting our garden, every day, several times a day. They would make light work of the bird seed so I had to do something about it because there was nothing left for the birds but the main reason is probably the wife giving her opion – not needed of course!

This is why I started testing several different squirrel proof bird feeders, plus I get to share them with my readers here.

squirrel proof bird feeders with sparrows on
Testing 3 of my squirrel proof bird feeders

Now, I didn’t go for the cheapest because I knew the squirrels would simply chew through the wire. I have seen what they had done to my mum’s supposedly squirrel proof feeders in her garden and I wanted feeders that would last. To get straight to the point, the two feeders that have really impressed me is this Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder with its innovative weight-based design (which works amazingly well) and this Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder. As you can see in the picture below, both these feeders are extremely good quality, made using decent thick gauge steel not cheap flimsy wire. These two models have both really proved valuable and the peanut feeder was even under 20 quid when I purchased it off Amazon.

Two of the best squirrel bird feeders for seed and peanuts as tested my myself
The Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder and Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder

One of the other issues I had was with pigeons, magpies and jackdaws also emptying the feeders. The pigeons cannot access any of the feeders now but they don’t half clean up after the other birds that drop half of the seed on the floor, so that’s not too bad. When it comes to the magpies and jackdaws, it’s another story. That’s still a work in progress but as for the squirrels, they’ve been unable to get any bird seed or peanuts out from the feeders and have now stopped even trying.

I have also recently being testing the Repeak Large Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder pictured above for seed. This is another caged version but its really good quality like the Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder so its a good alturnative. I think they also do a suet feeder version too.

The Garden Mile 40cm Clear Squirrel Baffle which has proved effective against squirrels and rats.

I have also been testing this Garden Mile Clear Squirrel Baffle pictured which is about 40cm wide. I tried this on my feeder pole and it worked great for all of about 3 minutes. less than a few minutes of baffling the squirrels, they simply learnt to leap from the tree and fence, straight onto the feeders like little acrobats totally bypassing climbing up the pole which is what they had been doing.

It was a fail for me so I decided to take it to my mums where she also has a bird feeder pole in the middle of the garden and she also has a squirrel problem living right next to a wood. This has worked great for her as they couldn’t jump onto the feeders directly. Up to know this seems to have put the squrrels off.

Best Pick

Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder which I have been testing has proved to keep the squirrels at bay
Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder is best for seed
Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
This Jacobi Jayne bird feeder is just one of a range of squirrel-proof bird feeders which hold varying amounts of seed and cater to different varieties of birds. This green metal feeder I have beenn testinng has a domed roof and four perches and the design really is well designed. When a squirrel puts weight on any part of the feeder, the spring-loaded mechanism moves downwards and closes the feed portals off. This clever design shuts off access to the seed inside. Smaller birds as there much lighter don’t trigger this mechanism and can eat all they want of the seed through the open portal. I like that you can also adjust the weight needed to shut of the feed off but I have it on the lighest setting and it works perfectly. The build quality is excellent too, well put together and the design works really well. Where this model has been better than some of the similar models I have had is that it has a long tube on the top which seems to stop the squirrels from using there back legs to hold onto the top of the feeder and hang down. If you have problems with squirrels and use bird seed, this squirrel proof bird feeder is what you need. It really does work well, i'm yet to find a more effective model for bird seed.

Best for Peanuts

Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder is probably one of the best squirrel proof bird feeders to fill with peanuts
Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder is best for peanuts
Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder
If your feathered visitors to your garden prefer peanuts to seed which are the blue tits and coat tits in my garden. This Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder has proved very effective at stopping squirrels getting to the peanuts but the smaller birds with happly pass through the larger cage. This bird feeder has a metal grid cage surrounding a stainless steel mesh tube that holds the peanuts. Small birds enter through the gaps in the mesh, perch on the grid floor or feeder tube and eat the peanuts. Squirrels and large birds just can’t get through the mesh and trust me they have tried. Apart from the quality as its uses fairly thick steel wire for the cage, where I have found this model is different from similar models that look very similar is that the lid screws off and then the feeder and cage drop off from below to refill the feeder. Its impossable for the squirrels to remove the lid because of this design unlike some models where the lid just clips off and they have access to the bird food. This squirrel-proof bird feeder also has an attractive lantern shape and a decorative lid, easily making it part of your garden décor. If your looking for a feeder for peanuts, this is what I would recommend and I thought it was surprisingly affordable. Overall, this is well worth adding to your garden if you need one for peannuts.

These are my top squirrel-proof bird feeders:

  1. Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird FeederThis is probably the best feeder if i had to choose one feeder, this is for seed only but its well designs and very well build. I’ve had this for over 3 years now!
  2. Peckish 60051234 Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird FeederFor peanuts, this is what I recommend, again its well built and very effective.
  3. Garden Mile 40cm Clear Squirrel Baffle If you have a feeder pole and its not next to something squirrels can jump off, this works amazingly well and very effective.
  4. Repeak Large Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder – Well made, not my favorite but effective and still very well made.
  5. Gardman A01820 Heavy Duty Squirrel-Proof Seed Bird Feeder
  6. Roam wild Pestoff Squirrel-Proof Wild Bird Feeder

1. Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

BEST PICK

Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder in my garden

This Jacobi Jayne SB-1057 Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder – the Squirrel Buster – is one of a series of similar bird feeders from this manufacturer and this model is the one I have been testing over the last 12 months. I’ve got to say, I’ve been really impressed with everything about it. What an extremely well made and innovative piece of kit.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘calm down John it’s a bird feeder’ but really, it’s very well designed and the build quality is unmatched by most models I’ve had. They have literally thought of everything in the design. What you need to understand is, with some of the previous squirrel-proof models I have used, the squirrels have literally bitten through the steel cage, managed to open lids, and credit where credits are due, squirrels are crafty little things.

This particular model deters squirrels and pigeons and it’s supposed to deter other large birds by using a weight-sensitive mechanism. You can also set the maximum weight of the birds you’re willing to feed to so it is adjustable so some of the larger songbirds can still feed while larger birds can’t.

You can see below in the two pictures, the first picture is with the hatches open as I have applied no weight to the perch or any part of the feeder.

Light birds which are mainly what you want to feed are light and so do not trigger the seed to be closed off

Once you add weight to the perch (or any other part of the outside of the feeder) as shown below using my finger, it doesn’t take a lot, this then closes the hatch and you can no longer access the feed hopper. So, when a squirrel climbs onto the feeder from the top the hatch closes (before it has even managed to work its way down the feeder) and it can’t access the bird seed. So it doesn’t matter how or where the squirrels climb onto the feeder, from the bottom, the top, or the side, the feeder hatches close instantly.

Now, this design works really well for squirrels and is much better than similar models where they have to actually put weight on the perch to close the hatches off. With these models, squirrels quickly work out how to take the feed without touching the perches by dangling down from the top of the feeder with their back legs. Not with this feeder though, the hatches still close even if they don’t touch the perches.

weighted applied to the perch closes the seed off

As already mentioned, it’s worked very well for squirrels, as of yet they have never been able to get to the seed. They’ve had a good go and not managed to access the feed and the pigeons can’t either. They have also not been successful at damaging the feeder either, even though they have given it a good go with those teeth. It’s just too well made.

DL501

However, the magpies and jackdaws, in particular, have learned to hover while just touching the perches and then getting some of the seed out. I haven’t managed to take a photo of this happening with this specific feeder but I did with another very similar feeder I was testing that works in the same way by Tom Chambers.

Long tube that mean squirrels cannot hang on the top of there feeder with there back legs

Now, one of the features, this bird feeder has that other similar feeders don’t have (including the Tom Chambers feeder) is that it has a long tube on top of the feeder as shown above. It doesn’t look like much but I can tell you that makes all the difference from what I have seen and is very effective.

With some models, the squirrels have been able to hold on to the top of the hanger where the feeder hangs on. With such models, the squirrels soon learn to hang with their back legs and then stretch down and eat the seed without putting any weight on the feeder or perches that close the hatches. Having the tube on top of the feeder, they have not been able to do that with this feeder.

The body of this bird feeder is made of a green rust-proof steel mesh that has small grid openings in it, again it’s been out in all weather and is displaying no signs of any rust. The bird seed is held inside a clear plastic cylinder inside this metal tube, which is a design I like as it means the seed stays dry. The seed capacity is around 0.5kg which I think is about right for my garden, although there are bigger alternatives, however, they are too long for a standard food stand as I use. To give you an idea, the height of the feeder including the slim pipe is 53cm tall but the actual feeder is only 28cm tall (the main bit that holds the seed). Width wise, it’s about 9-10cm wide.

You simply remove the top hanging bar which is just a simple hook and the lift the outside off the tube to refill with seed

You fill the feeder by sliding the long tube and wire hook off the top of the feeder and then the metal outer section with the perches slides off the top of the feeder (as you can see in the picture above) and you can pour the seed into the clear plastic tube. Nice and simple! No nuts or screws to worry about here.

Being spring-loaded, the perches are triggered when anything heavier than a small bird sits or pulls on them. A heavier weight causes the doors over the feed portals to close, and remain closed. When the heavy bird or squirrel leaves the perch, the doors open instantly and the seed is accessible again.

You turn the grey plastic screw piece which tightens and loosens the spring making it more or less sensitive
Altering the weight sensitivity

Finally, you can alter the weight needed to trigger the hatches to close, I have it set on the most sensitive but this is easily altered by turning the grey tube on top of the feeder. This simply loosens or tightens the spring you can see in the feeder that controls the sensitivity of the hatches.

Pros

  • Green metal mesh bird feeder with a domed roof and four perches.
  • A hanging loop is attached through a green pipe to the feeder.
  • The weight of a squirrel/large bird automatically closes the portals of the feeder.
  • Weight adjustable so you can choose the maximum weight of birds that can feed here.
  • Easy to assemble and doesn’t need tools.
  • Holds 0.5kg of seed.
  • Lifetime warranty.
  • Dimensions: 47cm (diameter); 55cm (to top of lid); and 47cm (hanging part)

Cons

  • Not really found a problem with this feeder. If I’m being really picky it is perhaps a little tall at 53cm tall including the slim pipe at the top.

Our recommendation

I’ve been using this squirrel proof bird feeder for around 12 months and the squirrels have had a good go at getting into it, they have chewed it, tried to hang from it, and try as they might, it has successfully kept them at bay up to now. They have mostly given up because they seem to have realised they can’t get anything from it and tend to sit underneath it waiting to eat anything the small birds have dropped.

Overall, I would say it’s been a huge success, the only thing it doesn’t stop is the magpies and jackdaws that have learned to hover to take the food that way which is pretty clever. However, they only seem to be able to do this in short bursts and hover for a few seconds.

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Read next: Best pigeon-proof bird feeders that are also great against squirrels too


2. Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder

Best for Peanuts

Peckish 60051234 Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder which is my best squirrel proof bird feeder for peanuts

This Peckish 60051234 Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder caters to those birds who prefer eating peanuts to seeds and in my garden that seems to be the blue tits and coal tits and the occasional starling.

Where this model really stands out compared to other models that use the cage design (including the Ossian Bird Feeder which I also have) is the quality of the overall feeder and the materials used. The steel wire cage surrounding the birdseed cylinder wire cage must be twice the diameter of most other models and it’s a good heavy-duty piece of kit.

Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder which is solid and made from heavy duty steel

This squirrel-proof bird feeder is made of a metal grid in an attractive lantern shape. With the decorative leaf pattern on the lid and the antique finish, it’s a functional piece of garden décor, and it looks the part.

It works by having a large grid spacing in the outer cage that lets small birds come into the feeder but keeps out squirrels, magpies, pigeons and other large birds and it does work well too. To give you some measurements, the space between the inner and outer cage is around 6cm. This seems to be enough to stop the squirrels and larger birds from getting their heads through the cage and reaching the inner case with the peanuts in.

Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder which screws onto the bird food tube to make it super strong and secure

Where I have found the design to be much better than other very similar models is that instead of having a simple lid that pops off with some brackets (that squirrels can usually open) is that with this feeder, you place the larger cage over the feeder, and then it screws into place nice and tight. There is no way a squirrel is getting it open and yet it is still so easy to open and refill. Sometimes, it can be a little tight but then that makes it even more secure.

Heavy duty screw on lid ensures the squirrels don't get the lid off

You are limited to using peanuts with this bird feeder as the mesh spacing in the feed tube is too large to keep seeds in but then it is sold as a peanut feeder. With a 0.5kg capacity, you may need to refill the tube every few days if you have hungry guests as I do.

Our recommendation

This Peckish Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder is my selection of the Best squirrel-proof bird feeder for peanuts. I really like the design in the way you open the feeder but unscrew the cage and lid together as they are one piece rather than having a standard lid that just clips shut like most other models.

The actual build quality is something that stands out with the heavier steel cage wire. Overall, I think they took a common design that works (a large cage around a feeder) but have made a premium-quality version and improved the way it opens to make it more secure. If you need a squirrel proof bird feeder for peanuts, I recommend this model, I’ve been really pleased with it.


3. Garden Mile Large Universal 40cm Clear Squirrel Baffle Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Accessory

Garden Mile® Large Universal 40cm Clear Squirrel Baffle Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Accessory

This has been my mum and dad’s secret weapon against squirrels. Rather than a feeder, it is more of an attachment or accessory. This is the Garden Mile Large Universal 40cm Clear Squirrel Baffle, and it has truly revolutionised the bird feeding experience for my mum’s garden!

Testing the Garden Mile 40cm Clear Squirrel Baffle
Testing the Garden Mile 40cm Clear Squirrel Baffle

This clever device attaches to your existing bird feeder pole below the feeders, effectively preventing squirrels from physically getting to the bird food.
The secret behind the squirrel baffle’s success is its ingenious dome shape, not slipperiness like I first thought. Made from clear ABS polycarbonate material, the 40cm wide dome confused the squirrels as they tried to climb over/get around it. When they reach the dome after climbing the pole, they find themselves at the bottom of the dome, unable to manoeuvre around the outside and continue up the pole. The unique design effectively stops them in their tracks, keeping the bird food safe for our feathered friends.

I quickly realised when I first tried this in my own garden that it’s crucial to position it away from any structures or objects that squirrels could jump from, such as fences or trees. This ensures they can’t bypass the pole altogether and simply leap onto the bird feeders as they did in my garden. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use this setup in my garden, as my bird feeder pole is too close to trees and fences. However, I’ve had the opportunity to test this baffle design in my mum and dad’s large garden, as they have a squirrel problem and a bird feeder in the centre of the lawn. The baffle has proven to be highly effective for them!

It does fit most poles; I’ve tried it on 3 different poles, it’s designed to fit bird feeder poles ranging from 12mm to 25mm in diameter and comes with spacers to accommodate different pole sizes within that range.

In my personal experience and based on the success at my parents’ garden, this squirrel baffle has been a fantastic addition to any bird feeding setup. It not only protects the bird food from squirrels, but it also allows bird lovers to continue enjoying the company of their cherished winged visitors without any unwelcome interruptions. That being said, I like to use squirrel proof bird feeders in my own garden as some of the models I have used also help protect against pigeons as well a blackbirds, just something to keep in mind. I nearly forgot, it also worked against rats, which surprised me. They can climb anything but don’t usually jump or at least not like squirrels, so this could be worth a try if you have a rat problem.


Final Conclusion

I highly recommend the Garden Mile Large Universal 40cm Clear Squirrel Baffle for anyone with a suitable garden setup where the bird feeder pole is positioned away from trees and fences. This baffle has proven to be a highly effective solution in my parents’ garden, not only protecting the bird food from squirrels but also deterring rats. It’s a fantastic addition to your bird feeding setup that allows you to enjoy the company of your beloved winged visitors without the frustration of unwelcome pests. Just keep in mind that if you need protection against larger birds like pigeons and blackbirds, you might want to consider squirrel-proof bird feeders as well.


4. Repeak Large Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

Repeak Large Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

This Repeak Large Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder has proved to be reliable, at least during my testing, but this is a reasonably new feeder I’ve been trying out. This bird feeder has proven to be effective against squirrels and helps deter larger birds, such as pigeons and starlings, crows, and magpies. The main reason for trying this was because with some of the feeders with small port holes thats close under a larger bird’s weight, some crafty birds have worked out they could perch and flap their wings to help prevent the doors closing in short bursts to access the food. The Jackdaws really mastered this!
This was when I thought I would try a new caged feeder, but I wanted one with a heavier gauge wire to keep the squirrels off the feed.

Constructed with durable, galvanized metal, this is more heavy-duty than most other squirrel bird feeders I’ve tried. The outer metal grid, designed to allow only smaller birds to access the clear plastic feeding tube inside, features four portals, each with its own perch. This allows the birds to feed on bird seed, but the larger birds and squirrels can’t access the seed.
The twist lid, though a bit stiff to turn, at least on the one I received, effectively prevents squirrels from removing it as they can turn it. However, I had read other reviews where for some reason, the lid wasn’t as tight. Suppose there’s any concern about the lid not being tight enough. In that case, it’s easily be secured with some wire to deter squirrels further.
While this particular feeder is designed for bird seed, there are versions available for peanuts and suet balls as well. I did notice that young starlings occasionally managed to squeeze through the wire gaps, but adult starlings couldn’t, which still makes it highly effective but worth noting.

Final Conclusion

Based on my personal experience, the Repeak Large Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder has significantly improved my bird feeding setup. It effectively keeps squirrels and larger birds away, allowing you to enjoy the company of the cherished, smaller song birds like finches and sparrows. I think its a great alturnative to the Peckish 60051234 Secret Garden Squirrel Proof Peanut Bird Feeder I have also been using.


5. Gardman A01820 Heavy-Duty Squirrel-Proof Seed Bird Feeder

Gardman A01820 Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Seed Bird Feeder, Multi-colour, 12.75 kg

This Gardman A01820 Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Seed Bird Feeder is a polished aluminium cylinder frame, inside which, is a clear plastic feed tube. The aluminium frame is light and airy and won’t rust. Small birds can get at the bird seed by hopping through the gaps in the frame and sitting on perches coming out from the feed tube portals. Squirrels (and large birds) aren’t able to squeeze through the gaps in the frame, leaving all the food for the birds that can.

The lid on the top of the structure unscrews so that you can pour the birds feed into the feed tube. Just make sure that the level of the food is above the different levels of the portals and all your visiting birds will be happy. Pigeons and squirrels hanging on the outside of the aluminium cage can see the food but can’t reach in to get it.

Up to four birds can feast at the same time. Each of the four portals in the feed tube has its own perch for the bird to sit on. However, there’s room inside the structure for additional birds to enter and sit on the grid floor waiting for their turn to eat.

You may want to make this squirrel-proof bird feeder even more secure by wiring the lid shut when you don’t need to remove it. Some online reviewers report that their remarkably smart squirrels learned how to twist off the lid to the feed tube and to get at the bird seed from above. This is a quick and easy fix, and the potential problem isn’t a deal breaker.

Another version of this bird feeder holds peanut pieces instead of seeds and another one holds suet balls. You can put out the type of food that each species of bird prefers.

Our recommendation

The Gardman A01820 Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Seed Bird Feeder is a simple and open structure that lets you view the birds that come to the feeder. The clear plastic feed tube lets you see how much seed is in it for the birds that come in through the open parts of the grid. Squirrels and larger birds such as pigeons can’t squeeze in.

The Gardman A01820 Heavy Duty Squirrel Proof Seed Bird Feeder is a good choice of squirrel-proof bird feeder if you like to sit and watch the birds.


6. Roamwild Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

Squirrel Proof Wild Bird Feeder - Roamwild PestOff - Antique Copper Finish (Mixed Seed/Sunflower Heart Feeder)

The Roamwild Pestoff Squirrel-Proof Wild Bird Feeder has a green plastic top and bottom around a long, clear plastic feed tube. It’s easy to fill – the top just snaps off and you can pour 1.5L of bird seed and sunflower hearts into the tube for the birds to snack on. This Roamwild bird feeder is ready to go straight from the box. Just fill it with seed and hang it up.

The mechanism of this Pestoff bird feeder works off springs. Each of the two feeding perches operates on a spring mechanism. The perches are weight sensitive. If a squirrel or large bird lands on them, the weight of the animal/bird causes the feed portal to close, making the seed inaccessible. However, if a small bird alights there, the light weight registers and the spring opens the portal. No matter how long the squirrel sits on the perch, it can’t get to the bird seed.

And don’t worry about large birds or squirrels being able to get through the exposed clear feed tube. It’s made of the same UV-stable and tough plastic as riot shields. If the squirrels do get through, you have a much larger problem.

I like the sloped shape of the lid/roof. It’s thoughtfully designed to act as a rain guard and stop water from getting through the portals into the seed. Damp seed is not tasty for the birds and is difficult for you to clean up. The base part of the bird feeder also has another sloped roof to keep the rain directly off the birds. Not only does this unit provide a meal for your feathered visitors, but it also provides a safe and dry place to eat.

Our recommendation

I like the simplicity and the large capacity of the Roamwild Pestoff Squirrel-Proof Wild Bird Feeder. There’s also the thoughtfulness of design with a rain guard roof and another rain guard directly over the two perches. The weight of large birds and animals, including squirrels, on the perches, causes the feed portals to close, and stay closed until the weight goes away.

The Roamwild Pestoff Squirrel-Proof Wild Bird Feeder is a good choice if most of your feathered visitors are small and medium-sized birds.

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Buyer’s Guide for squirrel-proof bird feeders

Squirrels seem determined to get into the quick, easy and tasty food in the bird feeders in the garden. And they often are able to do this. The anti-squirrel bird feeders in this review are designed to keep squirrels out in various ways. This Buyer’s Guide goes over the features to look for when deciding which is the best squirrel-proof bird feeder for your garden.

A squirrel getting to the peanuts from my bird feeders

How the squirrels are kept out

The selection of bird feeders in this review shows that there are basically two ways to keep the squirrels (and large birds) out of the bird feeder.

Metal grid

The first way is to make an outer cage of metal grid or mesh. The size of the gaps between the mesh in this structure determines the size of the bird or creature that can hop into the bird feeder. Inside the cage is a feed tube, often mesh, that holds the bird seeds, nuts or fruit. The gaps are too small for squirrels and large birds to enter.

Spring-loaded perches

One of two weight sensative squirrel proof bird feeders I have
The squirrel-proof bird feeder uses weight to close the hatches to stop squirrels from getting to the seed

In this style of an anti-squirrel bird feeder, there’s only a feed tube, again often plastic. The perches for the birds are on the outside of the tube, usually at the base. The seed is available through the portals above the perches. The spring mechanism is sensitive to weight and closes the gate to the portal when a heavier weight, e.g. a squirrel, is detected on the perch. When the weight is removed or replaced by lighter weight, i.e. a small bird, the portal opens and the seed is once more available.

The best spring-loaded perch bird feeders let you adjust the maximum weight that keeps the portal open. You can choose to let medium size (and weight) birds eat at your feeder by increasing the weight that closes the portal gates.

Other design features to consider

Distance between the outer cage and inner tube

Checking the distance between the case and inner tube

In the metal grid style of the bird feeder, the distance between the outer cage and the inner feed tube is important. It’s no use keeping out squirrels if they can cling to the outside of the cage and reach in and grab the seeds from the tube. Make sure that the space between the outer cage and the inner tube is far enough that the arms of the squirrel and the beak of a pigeon can’t reach that far. I have found that a gap of around 6cm is enough.

Type and capacity of the feed tube

Do most of your feathered visitors eat seeds? Nuts? Fruit? Or even peanuts? The material and design of the feed tube determine what food you can offer your guests. Suet balls, for example, need a different feeder than Niger seeds or seed blends. Peanuts get their own feeder style as well. Choose the appropriate one for what your birds need.

And as for capacity, how many birds are you anticipating to visit, and how hungry are they? Of course, this is something that you will be able to work out over time. But you need to make a rough guess when choosing a feeder with a useful capacity. You don’t want one so small that you need to refill it every day. On the other hand, you don’t want a super large one in which the seeds will go off before your few birds finish them.

Material

Checking the thickness of the case wire as squirrels can easly chew through cheaper feeders with thin wire cages

Never underestimate the sneakiness and learning ability of squirrels. They’re not too busy so they have time to spend working out how to get into your impenetrable bird feeder. Look for the most durable materials you can find. Metal is a good choice as it’s not possible to chew through it if it’s a decent thickness. I have seen metal case feeders get bitten through so a thick wire is essential. If the feeder has plastic parts that are within reach, go for strong plastic, even of riot-shield quality which they do sell believe it or not.


FAQ on squirrel-proof bird feeders

What height should a bird feeder be?

Different bird types like to feed at different heights. At lower levels – eye level, 5ft to 6ft above the ground – are cardinals and finches; higher up trees are birds such as woodpeckers and chickadees, which are happy eating between 6ft and 10ft; birds that like to go even higher for their meals include grosbeaks.

Place bird feeders 5-6ft high to help them feel safe and eat
A selection of squirrel-proof bird feeders suspended 5ft-6ft high

Generally, five to six feet high is a good measurement to use for a mixed variety of birds. Squirrels can jump 4ft high, so this placement is just out of their reach.

And remember to put the bird feeder out of reach of hiding places that cats like to use.

Are squirrels harmful to my garden or bird feeders?

While squirrels can be adorable and entertaining, they can cause damage to your garden by digging up plants, bulbs, and lawns. They can also damage bird feeders, as many people have found, including me, in their persistent attempts to access the food.

How can I deter squirrels from emptying and destroying my bird feeders?

The best approach is to invest in a squirrel-proof bird feeder, which I have talked about in this review. Additionally, placing the feeder away from trees and fences can make it more difficult for squirrels to access the feeder, which I talked about when I reviewed the squirrel baffle for bird feeder poles.

Can I provide food for squirrels separately to keep them away from bird feeders?

Yes, setting up a designated squirrel feeding area with foods like corn cobs, nuts, or squirrel food mixes can help distract them from your bird feeders. This is what I do myself. However, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay away from the bird food entirely, which is what I found, which is why I still use squirrel-proof bird feeders.

What should I do if I find an injured or baby squirrel in my garden?

If you encounter an injured squirrel, it’s best to contact your local wildlife rehabilitation centre, such as the RSPCA, for advice on what to do. Similarly, if you find a baby squirrel, it’s important to remember that its mother is likely nearby. Keep an eye on the situation from a distance and contact a wildlife expert if the baby has not been found by its mother within a few hours.

How can I keep squirrels away from my bird feeder?

As well as buying one of the squirrel-proof bird feeder models in my review, you can use a squirrel’s strong sense of smell to deter them. They’re said to not like the smell of coffee grounds or of peppermint. Squirrels also aren’t fond of plants that smell like onions – such as chives and onions themselves. Plant these along with lily-of-the-valley and hyacinths with a strong fragrance near your bird feeder. These are all old remedies but they’re worth a try although I have not used them myself.


I hope you have found my personal expernece and review helpful. My guide, How to attract birds into your garden helps you get the birds to the bird feeder. Finally, I have looked at some of the best bird box cameras here which are brilliant for watching chicks hatch and you can learn where to position a nest box in my putting uo a next box guide here.


Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

3 Comments

  1. Patricia Harrison

    Had mine for nine months worked well until recently…going Rusty and the feeder keeps sticking blocking access…the jackdaws bomb it to knock food out. expensive product

  2. Lorraine Lumley

    Mine was the same as Patricia’s, but lasted longer before going rusty and sticking shut. We also fight the Jackdaws, & found the only way to beat them was to put the feeders under the eves, which then allowed the squirrels more chance for working them out! Its other weak point is the blocking up of the drainage holes. By default pecking birds create tiny particles of seed which quickly block up the holes, the rain then wets the seeds, even under the eves, the particles solidify and the feeding tray fills with water. You only realise when the seeds are not going down and the bird life has suddenly disappeared. Its an expensive item if it only lasts a year or two.

  3. Mine works at treat , certainly Best Buy. I have it hanging in a contorta hazel tree. Provides cover from larger birds and definitely squirrel proof. Just clean holes underneath as you refill. Lots more tits and finches back to my garden. Result!

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