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Critter Solutions for Your Bird Feeding Hobby

By Wild Birds Unlimited

Can you really blame critters for taking advantage of the free buffet at your backyard feeders? Finding food is a full time job for them and when they find your unprotected bird feeders, they must believe they have hit the proverbial jackpot!

But sooner or later, be they determined furry critters or hordes of “nuisance” birds, your patience is likely to wear thin with these visitors and you will be ready to engage them in a battle for your backyard. Fortunately, there are some easy solutions you can employ to help regain control of your feeders.

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Photograph courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited.

Baffling Your Squirrels

Sooner or later these cute little members of the rodent family are probably going to cross over the line at your feeders. Often agile beyond belief and seemingly able to solve complex problems, squirrels can consume large amounts of bird feed and may damage expensive feeders.

Stovepipe baffles, when placed properly on a pole system, can make it virtually impossible for a squirrel to climb onto your pole or post-mounted feeders. These smooth metal cylinders are effective when positioned on the pole at least five feet above the ground and when the pole is set at least 10 feet away from any tree, bush, fence, or other surface from which a squirrel can jump directly onto the feeders.

This setup turns any feeder hung on the pole system into a squirrel-proof bird feeder.

If you hang your feeder from a tree, accessible only from above, use a standard tube or hopper feeder with a domed squirrel baffle above. Position the dome directly above the feeder to stop squirrels from climbing down the hanging chain or wire.

Another solution is to put your feeder behind bars by retrofitting it with an exclusion cage. These cages come in many sizes and dimensions that will protect almost any feeder from squirrels and large nuisance birds, too.

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Taking the Nuisance Out of “Nuisance” Birds 

So, just who are these “nuisance” birds? Well, in its most basic definition, it’s any group of birds that congregate at your feeders to such a level that they prevent your favorite birds from using your feeders, while also making short work out of your valuable bird food.

The key is to favor your favorite birds and discourage the others by your choice of foods and feeders.

The type of foods you offer can make a big difference. Cracked corn and millet are favored by many nuisance birds and should be avoided. Replace them with safflower. Blackbirds are not a fan of this seed, but it is used by many “favored” birds. Pure suet cakes, as opposed to suet blends with added ingredients, are often ignored by starlings, yet they are attractive to woodpeckers and other birds.

Many feeders come with creative engineering that is designed to exclude larger birds. There are weight-sensitive feeders that can be set to close off the feeding ports to heavier birds, and feeders with mesh cages that exclude larger birds, while allowing access by smaller ones. There are feeders with short, or even no perches that favor small birds and make it hard for larger birds to utilize the feeder.

To learn more about these and other critter solutions, be sure to visit our Certified Bird Feeding Specialists® at your favorite Wild Birds Unlimited store for the expert advice you need to take back your feeders. Also, tune into the Nature Centered Podcast Episode 76: Critter Solutions, for more tips!

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