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Love them or consider them a pest, squirrels are everywhere, and they love the same treats you provide for the birds in your garden. Squirrels are persistent and endlessly innovative in finding ways to feast at bird feeders. There are devices you can attach to your current bird feeders, but feeders that are designed to be squirrel-proof are usually more effective.
When you’re ready to outsmart the squirrels, here are a few tips to help you keep them away from your bird feeders:
- Do not use a wooden bird feeder or mounting pole. Squirrels have front teeth strong enough to crack nuts and gnaw through wood.
- Attach baffles to the mounting pole that are large enough to prevent the squirrel from getting around them.
- If using a caged feeder, make sure the cage is large enough so the squirrels can't reach the food.
- Place bird feeders at least 10 feet away from trees, powerlines, and structures so squirrels cannot leap onto them.
- Offer the birds food that squirrels don’t like such as safflower seed, white proso millet, and nyjer seed.
- Use hot pepper powder (capsaicin) that does not harm birds on the seeds to deter mammals.
- Feed the squirrels their favorite corn and peanuts separately at another feeder.
Here, the best squirrel-proof bird feeders on the market.
Best Overall: Droll Yankees Yankee Flipper Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
Feeder Type: Tube | Material: Powder coated metal and UV-stabilized polycarbonate | Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 28.5 inches | Weight: 6 pounds | Capacity: 5 pounds | Number of Ports: 4
Holds 5 pounds of seed
Battery must be recharged with AC adapter
Not suitable for pole mounting
Droll Yankees is a classic name in bird feeders, and this model is their most innovative squirrel-proof model. At the bottom of the nearly 5 inches in diameter and 17-inch long clear seed tube (holds five pounds of seed) is a motorized perch ring. While it will accommodate birds like cardinals and woodpeckers, the weight of a squirrel causes the ring to spin, so the squirrel falls off.
Made from powdered coated metal to prevent rust with four feeding stations on the UV stabilized polycarbonate seed tube, the feeder will withstand years of rough weather. The batteries are rechargeable and replaceable, and the feeder body is backed by a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage.
Best Budget: Brome Squirrel Buster Standard Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder with 4 Metal Perches
Feeder Type: Tube | Material: Resin and plastic | Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 13.25 inches | Weight: 1.6 pounds | Capacity: 1.3 pounds | Number of Ports: 4
Weather- and rust-proof
Small size requires frequent refilling
Not suitable for pole mounting
With a small seed capacity (1.3 pounds), this Brome feeder still performs well in keeping squirrels at bay. The four perches are weight-adjustable, so you can set them to accommodate the type of birds in your yard. When a heavier squirrel triggers the perch, a shroud drops immediately so that it cannot get to the seed.
Made from UV-stabilized resin, the feeder is weather- and rust-proof and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. The feeder comes with a hanger, and the tube is designed with a negative grip pattern so squirrels cannot maintain their hold. A tip to make this feeder more successful is to provide at least 16-inches of clearance around all sides, so squirrels are off-balance when they land on it.
Best Weight-Activated: Brome Squirrel Solution Wild Bird Feeder
Feeder Type: Tube | Material: Powder-coated metal and plastic | Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.5 x 20 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds | Capacity: 3.4 pounds | Number of Ports: 6
Not suitable for pole mounting
Heavier birds cause seeds to drop
Durable and stylish with oak leaf decorations applied to every side, this Brome feeder will please the birds and deter the squirrels. Able to hold over 3 pounds of birdseed with six feeding ports, the spring-weighted perches will hold all but the largest birds. But when a squirrel puts pressure on any perch, a shroud drops to block access to the seeds.
While Brome offers free lifetime service for any repairs; the feeder is made of durable UV-stable resin and coated metal. The components are dishwasher-safe for ease of cleaning. A patented seed ventilation system allows humidity and heat to escape so that bird food remains fresher. Unfortunately, when heavier birds land on the feeder, their weight causes seeds to escape through some of the ventilation holes.
"We can confirm that the SquirrelSolution battled valiantly and won. The very active, early spring squirrels were sometimes able to climb out onto the feeder, but as designed, their body weight pulled the metal frame down, blocking the holes and preventing feeding." — Justin Park, Product Tester
Best Pole-Mounted: Woodlink Absolute II Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder Model 7536
Feeder Type: Hopper | Material: Powder-coated metal and plastic | Dimensions: 16 x 13 x 11.3 inches with 5-foot pole | Weight: 1 pound | Capacity: 12 pounds | Number of Ports: 14
12-pound seed capacity
Double-sided feeding stations
Can be hung or pole-mounted
Small gaps in construction may harm birds
Since pole feeders are typically more difficult to fill, you’ll be happy that this Woodlink feeder holds 12 pounds of seed. Made of green powder-coated metal, the feeder is double-sided to accommodate a whole flock of birds. The feeder comes with a zinc-plated steel hanger and mounting hardware for a 5-foot sectional black powder-coated metal pole, so you have options for installation.
To keep squirrels away, the top locks and the perches are spring-activated. When a heavy squirrel lands on one of the perches, a metal shield covers the seed tray. Fortunately, squirrels cannot chew through this heavy steel. Small gaps in the metal construction can cause small birds to get a leg caught near the perch. Use silicone caulking to fill any gaps for safe, smooth operation.
Best Hanging: Droll Yankees Squirrel Proof Domed Cage Bird Feeder
Feeder Type: Tube | Material: Powder-coated metal and UV-stabilized polycarbonate | Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 15 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Capacity: 1 pound | Number of Ports: 4
Easy to fill and clean
Can be hung or pole-mounted
Larger birds cannot feed
Topped with a baffle to deter access and a cage to prevent the squirrel from reaching the seeds, this Droll Yankees domed cage is a winner. It holds a full pound of seed and is perfect for small songbirds because the 1.5-inch square openings prevent both squirrels and large bully birds from stealing the food.
Made of powder-coated metal with a UV-resistant baffle and a four-port feeding tube, the feeder has a lifetime guarantee. It can be hung but is also suitable for pole mounting.
“I have this feeder in my backyard, and it is covered with chickadees, Carolina wrens, and titmice. After the first few days, all of the squirrels just gave up and left it alone.” — Mary Marlowe Leverette, Master Gardener
Best Window: Nature Gear Window Bird Feeder
Feeder Type: Tray | Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 7.9 x 4 x 7.5 inches | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Capacity: 8-16 ounces | Number of Ports: 1
Provides up-close bird watching
Easy to clean
If you don’t have a yard or just like a close-up view while bird-watching, then a window feeder is for you. This feeder from Nature Gear is made from heavy-duty acrylic for the clearest viewing. The feeder is held in place with strong suction cups and has a pitched roof that helps prevent squirrels from getting a firm hold on the slick surfaces.
The feeder is small and only holds about 1 to 2 cups of seed. To help prevent squirrel access, place the feeder as far away from window sills and rooflines as possible.
Best Suet Feeder: Squirrel-X Squirrel-Resistant Double Suet Feeder
Feeder Type: Suet feeder | Material: Powder-coated metal | Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 9.4 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Capacity: 2 suet or seed cakes | Number of Ports: 4
Large capacity (two cakes)
Not suitable for pole mounting
We like to provide suet for the birds, especially in the winter, and this Squirrel X Double Suet Feeder gives them a bit of protection from the elements and access to the suet while keeping squirrels away.
Made from powder-coated steel, the feeder is durable, and the earthy colors blend beautifully into the landscape. While it is easy to fill with suet or seed cakes, the two cake-capacity allows feeding for a very long time.
“I’ve had this feeder for more than two years, and it looks brand-new. Small birds have easy access through the cage, while larger bully birds and squirrels are kept away.” — Mary Marlowe Leverette, Master Gardener
Best Decorative: Perky-Pet Squirrel-Be-Gone II Country House with Weathervane
Feeder Type: Hopper | Material: Powder-coated metal | Dimensions: 11.65 x 14.46 x 10.69 inches | Weight: 4.45 pounds | Capacity: 8 pounds | Number of Ports: 1
Can be hung or pole mounted
Roof becomes unlocked if squirrel turns weathervane
If you like a little kitsch while feeding the birds, the Perky Pet country house offers the best in “country cooking” for the birds. Complete with a weather vane, this red feeder can be hung or pole mounted.
With a capacity for 8 pounds of birdseed, the feeder is made of powder-coated, rust-proof metal. The adjustable-weighted perch will close the feeding tray when a heavy squirrel lands on it. The top of the roof is removable for easy filling, and the windows help you keep an eye on seed levels.
The best overall squirrel-proof bird feeder is the Droll Yankees Yankee Flipper Motorized Squirrel Proof Feeder (view at Amazon). The sleek design, seed capacity, and rechargeable battery-powered motor to send squirrels flying make it a winner for any backyard. For a budget-friendly option that is also effective, we recommend the Brome Squirrel Buster Bird Feeder (view at Amazon). It is weather- and rust-proof and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
What to Look for in a Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
If squirrels are a problem in your yard, never select a bird feeder or a mounting pole that is made from wood—even treated wood. Squirrels can gnaw through the wood in just a few days. The most durable feeder materials are powder-coated metals that prevent rust and resins that are UV-resistant to prevent fading and yellowing.
Look at the location you’d like to place the feeder. Do you prefer a hanging or pole-mounted feeder? If you choose a hanging feeder, a free-standing pole and hook are more squirrel-proof than the branch of a tree.
Smaller feeders require frequent refills with seed. Consider how easy the feeder is to access and fill. Will you need a step ladder?
Feeders with a protective cage are best for small songbirds because they can slip through the cage that keeps the squirrel out to reach the seed or suet. Look at the size of the openings to determine if larger cardinals and tanagers can access the seed.
If you enjoy feeding larger birds like blue jays, mockingbirds, or woodpeckers, then a feeder with an open-air weighted perch seed tray design is a better choice.
How do squirrel-proof feeders work?
Squirrel-proof bird feeders work in various ways. While some have a motor that's triggered by a squirrel's weight, others have certain materials that make it hard for pests to latch onto. Other common kinds of squirrel-proof feeders are caged feeders and pole-mount feeders. Caged feeders are an excellent option because they're chew-resistant while pole-mounted feeders can be great as long as they're kept away from jumping-off places squirrels can easily access.
How do I clean a squirrel-proof feeder?
You can wash most squirrel-proof feeders with warm water and dish soap. You'll want to take apart your feeder first and empty any leftover seeds. Use a toothbrush or toothpick to get seeds out of any hard-to-reach areas. You can then use a brush to scrub down the parts with warm water and dish soap. After rinsing all the parts, leave them out to air dry completely before refilling the feeder.
Can raccoons or other animals get into squirrel-proof feeders?
Although some feeders are squirrel-proof, not all are resistant to other large mammals. Depending on what kind of animals live around your area, you may need to take extra precautions. Some mammals, including squirrels, are sensitive to spices, but birds are not. You may want to consider adding cayenne pepper or other spices to your seeds to help keep them away. If you have bears in your area, you may want to put your feeder up on a sturdy metal pole at least 10 to 12 feet high to keep them away.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Mary Marlowe Leverette researched and wrote this roundup. She is a Master Gardener with extensive personal and professional experience testing, reviewing, and writing about home and garden products. A fan of squirrels, but only in the forest, you can find more of her work on The Spruce.