How do I stop Eastern Gray Squirrels?
Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) are the large squirrels that are commonly found in our backyards and neighborhoods. While they are called Eastern Gray Squirrels. They come in two main colours, gray and black, and you will occasionally see them with strange color markings of red, brown and even white. These squirrels eat a wide variety of foods including seeds, fruits, nuts, apples, bulbs, plant buds, insects, caterpillars, and an occasional nest of birds’ eggs or young. Many people are surprised how smart and acrobatic squirrels are. Squirrels can make bird feeding a challenge when they hog the feeders, eat all the seed and keep the birds away. We often hear "There's no such thing as a feeder squirrels can't get into." The reality is squirrel-proofing is actually quite easy if you know the rules (and follow them). No doubt squirrels are smart, but they do have physical limitations we can use to our advantage.
Here are our 6 Rules for Keeping out Eastern Gray Squirrels
1. Use Properly Sized, Metal Baffles on Tall Poles: The top of a pole baffle should be 5' above the ground to prevent jump-overs, and the pole itself must be 11' from anything sturdy enough (tree, fence, house, etc.) from which a squirrel or chipmunk could leap and gain access. If you want to prevent squirrels from accessing squirrel proof bird feeders you can get away with a pole and baffle that is 7’ from any surrounding objects. The pole must also be tall enough so that all feeders stay above the top of the baffle. Most standard shepherd's crooks are not tall enough to achieve both of these rules. WBU's Advanced Pole System is and is an effective way to keep them away from feeders.
Our patented Advanced Pole System® (APS) is a revolutionary concept and the foundation for successfully attracting birds to your backyard. Comprised of interchangeable hardware pieces, the APS lets you select the setup that best suits the habitat in your own backyard and the birds you want to attract.
2. If a Feeder is Going to Hang in a Tree, a Large Overhead Baffle or Sky Café Feeder can do the trick; but only if it is broad enough to allow the feeder to tuck up under the edges, and is hung far enough out from the tree trunk or low limbs so as to prevent sideways jumps (at least 10 feet is recommended). Many times these baffles fail because too large of a feeder is placed under the baffle and squirrels learn to catch some part of the feeder as the fall/leap through the air. Feel free to bring your feeder to WBU McKinney so we can set you up with the proper baffle for your feeder.
WBU APS Raccoon Baffle: Having trouble with rascal chipmunks, squirrels or raccoons getting into your bird feeders? The long, cylindrical design of our Raccoon Baffle specializes in deterring raccoons, squirrels and chipmunks from reaching your feeders. This baffle can be mounted to fit our Advanced Pole System® (APS) and is available in a durable black powder-coated finish. The baffle collar needed to pole mount this item is included. Our Advanced Pole System® (APS) Raccoon Baffle comes in two sizes:
- Dimensions: 23" x 8" diameter
- Dimensions: 23" x 10" diameter
WBU APS Squirrel Baffle: Our Stackable Squirrel Baffles can make a good-looking Advanced Pole System® (APS) setup look great.Made of durable, powder-coated steel, these baffles feature a tapered design that is very effective in stopping squirrels and chipmunks before they reach your feeders. The baffle collar needed to pole mount this item is included. (Pole not included, but can be found here - Bird Feeder Pole Mounts).
Dimensions: 14" x 7" diameter
Squirrel-Away Baffle: The Squirrel-Away Baffle is as durable as it is beautiful. The Clear Squirrel-Away Baffle can attach to any hanging bird feeder to provide the high quality protection and waterproofing. It is made from 100% recycled Plexiglas and is 17" diameter.
WBU Squirrel Baffle: Our WBU Squirrel Baffle is 18” in diameter and protects a wide variety of bird feeders from squirrels. It also helps to shelter birds feeding from any inclement weather such as rain or snow It comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Sky Café Bird Feeder: The Sky Café Bird Feeder is a squirrel-proof bird feeder, referenced very highly in Bird Watcher's Digest and Bill Adler, Jr.'s book. Squirrels slide off the dome every time they try, and they do keep trying, again and again. Cardinals, chickadees, tufted titmice, woodpeckers and many other songbirds gather on this circular, full-view patio. Cardinals, who are a bit shy about landing on narrow spots, are eager to land on this popular platform. It is made from 100% recycled Plexiglass with a large 17" diameter squirrel-proof dome protects seed from rain and snow as well. With its generous 24 cup capacity bucket, you'll spend less time filling and more time watching. Clear-view, easy-flow seed dispensing means bird’s peck at a seed and it falls out in front of them onto the tray for easy dining. The durable Plexiglas lasts for years and years. The Sky Café Bird Feeder comes with a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage.
3. WBU Tube Feeder Cages: Add a WBU Tube Feeder Cage to our WBU Seed Tube Feeders, WBU Finch Feeders, WBU Seed Cylinder Feeders, and WBU Peanut Feeders to protect the food from squirrels and larger birds. Cages feature a 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch mesh and are easy to install. Cages are available in two colors, green and black. "On-Guard" Cages can fit over a variety of feeders and utilize 1½” openings which allow smaller birds to feed, but exclude European Starlings, Common Grackles and Eastern Gray Squirrels. These are perfect for deck rail feeding or for when the arrangement of trees in a yard won't allow the use of baffles.
Cage Dimensions: 13” x 18” with a 13" Diameter
NOTE: Cages with 1½” mesh do not work to keep Red Squirrels. They can fit through the bars of the cage and are too light to trigger many squirrel proof bird feeders.
4. Brome Bird Care Feeders and Accessories are the Only Truly Guaranteed Squirrel Proof Wild Bird Feeders! These Squirrel-proof, weight activated feeders can be used in many situations.
WBU Eliminator: Protect your bird seed bounty from squirrels with our WBU Eliminator bird feeder. When a squirrel touches the perch ring, its weight closes the seed ports, foiling its seed-stealing plot. The WBU Eliminator's unique technology allows you to set the sensitivity level, so you can also exclude large birds such as pigeons or doves. The tension setting can also be used to keep out the lighter Red Squirrel. This feeder can be hung or pole mounted using the WBU Eliminator Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Pole Adapter Assembly Kit (sold separately). The WBU Eliminator Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Pole Adapter Assembly Kit (sold separately) allows the Eliminator to be mounted on a WBU Advanced Pole System® (APS) (sold separately). The WBU Eliminator has a capacity for approximately 3 lbs. (1.36 kg) or 14 cups of seed. The WBU Eliminator weighs approximately 3.2 lbs. (1.45 kg) unfilled and 6.2 lbs. filled (2.81 kg). If a tree were to hold this feeder, it would have to be a very sturdy tree. This feeder also features a special seed ventilation system that helps keep seed fresher. The WBU Eliminator can be disassembled and assembled with no tools, and all of its parts are top shelf dishwasher safe. The WBU Eliminator is available in grey or green. This feeder is backed by a limited lifetime guarantee.
Dimensions Feeder: 28½" x 8" Diameter
Dimensions Tube: 21¼" x 4½" Diameter
5. Use Safflower and WBU Safflower Sensation Seed Cylinder: Because of its bitter taste many squirrels do not like safflower, though some will eat it in the worst of weather. Safflower is available as a loose seed to use in most standard feeders or try it in a cylinder feeder with our WBU Safflower Sensation Seed Cylinder. Safflower has high appeal to Northern Cardinals, House Finches, Black-capped Chickadees, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Mourning Doves, while being avoided by most squirrels and blackbirds. Approximately 80% of Eastern Gray Squirrels and Red Squirrels do not eat Safflower. If offered, Safflower must be the ONLY seed in a feeder (you can't mix it). So while that may not be 100% squirrel proof, it can be another extremely useful tool in squirrel management.
6. In certain circumstances, where other methods aren't effective, WBU Hot Pepper Products may be the best option for deterring squirrels and other mammals. When feeders and food are placed in certain trees, on decks, or near windowsills, it may be difficult to keep away mammals including squirrels, raccoons, deer and rodents. In these situations, seed, suets, No-Melt Dough, Bark Butter, cylinders or Stackables™ with hot pepper may be a good solution. Only use products where the hot pepper is bound tightly in the product, such as our WBU Hot Pepper Products.
Approximately 90% of Eastern Gray Squirrels and Red Squirrels do not eat WBU Hot Pepper Products. There is also evidence to suggest that WBU Hot Pepper Products are effective at deterring a variety of mammals including but not limited to: Fox Squirrels, Eastern Gray Squirrels, Red Squirrels, rabbits, rats, mice, White-tailed Deer, Mule Deer, raccoons, opossums and skunks. WBU Hot Pepper Products may not be as effective when it comes to Eastern Chipmunks as they have fur-lined cheek pouches and this fur seems to act as a barrier to the effectiveness of the products.
Helpful Tips for Feeding WBU Hot Pepper Products
For all the information on Feeding WBU Hot Pepper Products please visit our Problem Solving with Hot Pepper page. Our Problem Solving with Hot Pepper page details everything you need to know about WBU Hot Pepper Products, including frequently asked questions (FAQ) such as, does it work to discourage squirrels, is it safe for birds to eat hot pepper, and is it safe for hobbyists to offer hot pepper foods. Here are a few helpful tips:
How to Feed WBU Hot Pepper Products?
When offering WBU Hot Pepper Products they must be the only thing in a feeder. In other words, you can’t mix WBU Hot Pepper Products with other non-hot pepper options. For example, you wouldn’t want to mix regular Bark Butter with Hot Pepper Bark Butter as animals will just eat around the spicy option. WBU Hot Pepper Products must be fed on their own to be effective.
Hot Pepper Safety
As pointed out by Jim Carpenter in The Joy of Bird Feeding, capsaicin coated seeds can bother people when it comes into contact with our eyes, nose, mouth and lips. It’s important to take care when using our WBU Hot Pepper Products. Rubber dish gloves would be a good accessory to have on hand when using these foods or washing feeders.
Can’t I just Make My Own Hot Pepper Products?
Items with hot pepper (capsaicin) cause a reaction in humans. If eyes, noses or lips are rubbed, then a reaction to hot pepper could range from mild to severe. Choosing products where the hot pepper is bound to the products (such as our WBU Hot Pepper Products), and taking caution when filling or washing feeders, is an important part of using these products safely. Do not attempt to make hot pepper products at home. Our WBU Hot Pepper Products have been specially formulated and tested to ensure they are safe for the birds. They are made in a facility where staff wear the proper safety equipment to ensure they don’t experience a reaction to the capsaicin. If you try making hot pepper deterrents at home it may not be safe for the birds or you!