Many gardeners also enjoy feeding birds – but not necessarily feeding the local squirrels. To deter squirrels, try to situate your feeders so squirrels can’t jump onto them from above. And place feeders at least seven or eight feet away from solid tree limbs, fences or railings.

To prevent access from below, set feeders approximately five feet above the ground so squirrels can’t leap up to them. You may also add a barrier to your feeder pole. A simple one can be made from aluminum duct pipe, about six inches in diameter. Install a section about two feet long directly under your feeder. Squirrels that manage to climb your feeder pole can go inside the duct pipe but are stopped when they meet the bottom of the feeder. For feeders that don’t have a flat bottom, cover the end of the pipe with hardware cloth to stop squirrels at that point.

As an alternative to your bird feed, you can feed squirrels hard corn on the cob. Suspend the cob on a length of chain and enjoy the show.

Kathy Uncapher, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


Have you ever had the problem of squirrels wanting to take up residence in your bird house? If so, I have a suggestion to discourage them from doing just that.

Some years ago, my dad built me a beautiful Martin house with accommodations for twenty families of birds. Martins prefer their home in an open area of the yard and high in the air. I mounted my bird house on a 21 foot piece of pipe which is normally used for top rail on chain link fencing. Martins are beautiful to watch and very effective in keeping the insect population down, especially mosquitoes.

Much to my surprise, as soon as the Martins started moving in, so did the squirrels. I was amazed how quickly a squirrel could shimmy up that 21 foot section of pipe and chew the hole a little bigger so she could fit inside the bird house. My wife’s mom told me to put shortening on the pole. They had experienced the same problem with squirrels. The shortening worked great! The squirrel would get a running start and jump as high as she could up on the pole and slowly slide all the way back down, despite all of the frantic scrambling to go up the pole. This actually became a form of entertainment for several weeks until she finally gave up. Crisco will do you proud!

This is one of the most humane and entertaining ways to keep squirrels out of your bird house. It also works on bird feeder poles!

Mike Engleman, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Birds, Butterflies & Wildlife