I have recently put out a bird feeder for a family of Cardinals that visit. I first put the feeder in a tree until I caught a squirrel batting the feeder to knock out the seed. I then moved the feeder to a free-standing post in the yard thinking that feeder would be out of the squirrel’s reach. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the squirrel climbed the pole. Please advise if there is anything I can do to prevent the squirrel from attacking the feeder.
– Ed Berman, Oceanside, New York
Squirrels are quite acrobatic and can jump about eight to 10 feet horizontally and can hook their back toes around poles as they maneuver around bird feeders. So, the first bit of advice is to keep the bird feeder at least 10 feet away from tree limbs, trees, electrical wires, rooftops, etc.
As for the pole, there are squirrel-proof bird feeders with mesh caging around the seed/suet areas and pyramid-shaped domes (baffles) above and below the seed cage to keep squirrels from reaching the seed should they climb up or slide down the pole. If you don’t want a new feeder, you might be able to fashion a baffle for your current feeder by looking at pictures of squirrel-proof feeders online.
But a Kentucky woman may have found an innovative and humane solution. Just a few years ago, Jan Siems Catron became an internet sensation when she put a slinky over the top of a bird feeder pole and produced a video to show what happened next. When the squirrel climbed the pole, he had to grab the slinky to continue, which expanded and returned him to the ground each time. After a day’s worth of attempts, he stopped trying to climb the pole.
If you want to feed your squirrels, place the food at an elevated level, like the top of a fence post. Most wild animals don’t feel safe eating while exposed on open ground.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.