Bird feeders create an easy opportunity for squirrels in search of seed. Able to walk on wire, jump vertically over four feet, leap horizontally over 10 feet and climb almost every surface, squirrels present a challenge for anyone determined to keep them out of bird feed. A squirrel baffle is a dome or cylinder that protects a hanging feeder or post-mounted feeder.
Hanging Squirrel Baffle
A bird feeder that hangs from a tree or post can be protected with a dome or cylinder, made of metal or plastic, that is placed above the feeder. This type of baffle works by stopping a squirrel from crawling over it to the seed. Before fitting a hanging feeder with a baffle, determine how squirrels are getting to the seed: jumping from below, the side, or above, or climbing down the hanging wire. If squirrels are jumping, the feeder should be moved. If they are climbing down the wire, a minimum 12-inch-wide baffle will deter them. An overhead baffle is disk-shaped or curved and mounted umbrella-style above a feeder. Two metal salad bowls can be used to make a squirrel baffle. Wrap strong wire around an isolated tree branch. Attach a large hook and attach four 8-inch pieces of wire. Drill four holes at the rim of a 10-inch metal salad bowl. Thread one wire through each hole, securing them under the bowl with a large washer. Twist another hook to a 6-inch piece of wire, pass it through a hole in the bottom of an 18-inch metal bowl and twist it securely to the large washer. Hang the bird feeder from the hook under the 18-inch bowl. Metal can lids or resin disks can also be used, if the surface is slick enough to repel a squirrel.
Post-Mounted Squirrel Baffle
Pole-mounted bird feeders should be located where squirrels cannot leap or drop onto them. If the only access to a bird feeder that is mounted is by the pole or post, it requires a baffle under the feeder. The baffle should be placed 4 feet or higher on the pole. PVC pipe, 5 inches in diameter, slipped around the pole might be effective if the feeder is placed at least 5 feet high. An aluminum stove pipe may also be a solution; the pipe should be buried in gravel at the base of the pole. A simple baffle can be made by cutting a 1-1/2-inch hole in the center of a metal garbage can lid, putting it over the top of the pole, positioning at least 4 feet high, and securing with clamps around the pole. Mount the bird feeder on the top of the pole.
If You Can't Beat Them
Sometimes, squirrels can be distracted from a bird feeder with an alternate "squirrel feeding station." Offer corn cobs and other treats away from the bird feeder.
Anne Rose is a communicator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English editorial from Northwestern University, with expertise in interactive media, event marketing and public speaking. She is a freelance writer and blogs, tweets and webs for various clients.