Finally... a Squirrel Proof Feeder that works – I won this Round! Easy, inexpensive DIY solution, less than two hours and $20

Share your love of DIY:   

Free Printable 9-page Step-by-Step Visual Guide added to the Store:

Large images and text for easy reference while building your new Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder! A pictorial materials list and easy-to-follow steps make this a fun and easy DIY project!
Squirrel proof bird feeder using an umbrella as a squirrel baffle

A squirrel proof feeder that actually works, and works very well!  I’ll show how I finally stopped those pesky squirrels from eating all the suet in the bird feeder. Not a single one has been on the feeder since I put it up on March 30th, 2020 and it still looks great! See the video update below to see how it’s holding up, and see the creatures that are happy it’s there.

How to Make the Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder - The Follow Up

 

The problem:

A lot of birds visit our suet feeder, and in the wintertime, many have come to depend on it. We love seeing them, and we love seeing all the squirrels too. 

The squirrels are a welcome addition to our yard, but problems arise when they eat all the suet. Not only that, the birds stay away from the feeders when the squirrels are on them. We needed a squirrel proof feeder!

We fed the squirrels nuts and seeds, and they were pretty happy with that. Well…up until they figured out how to get to the suet, and now that’s all they want to eat. I guess I can’t blame them—if there was a source of pizza hanging from in a tree in the backyard, I’d bypass the peanuts too!

If they only ate a little bit each day, we’d be OK with the situation. But they turn into little gluttons and will eat until they burst if allowed to!

 

A squirrel sitting and eating at a picnic table feeder

…they turn into little gluttons and will eat until they burst if allowed to!

They can eat from their own feeders rather than the birds’ suet.

 

The attempted solutions:

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Version 1.0 The feeder was hanging from a squirrel baffle secured by a super-thin wire rope. It should be too thin and slippery to climb down, right? That seemed like a great method! But, they quickly learned to shimmy down the wire, swivel the baffle out of the way, and get onto the feeder cage.

OK, so they won that one. Surely I can outsmart a squirrel…

For Version 2.0 I added an 8″ metal chimney brush to the wire. It should be too spiky for them and too big to get past, right? It was…for a day or two. Then they figured how to just drop from the branch, bypass the brush altogether, swivel the baffle, and end up on the cage again.

Another score for Team Squirrel! I seem to have underestimated these crafty creatures…

The concept for Version 3.0 was to simply get a bigger baffle. Great idea! That is, until I saw the prices for baffles that were only slightly larger than the one the squirrels were already laughing at. $149 for an 18″ baffle? Not gonna happen, thank you.

Version 1 bird feeder, squirrel baffle only
Version 1.0
Version 2 of bird feeder with squirrel baffle and chimney brush
Version 2.0
Ridiculously priced squirrel baffle online listing
Version 3.0
Squirrel proof bird feeder with umbrella baffle
Version Win!

The solution:

Cruising the aisles of hardware stores several times a week has become something of a hobby for me, (or a sickness depending on who you ask)! One day, I was walking through Lowes and saw they had golf umbrellas under $6. A light bulb icon suddenly appeared over my head…

Yes, the umbrella was really big, but it seemed like it would prevent the squirrels from doing a trapeze act to get to the feeder. I reasoned that with a bit of paint, some strong tape and a couple of hours work, I might have a chance to win a round with the squirrels! 

Now six months later, there has not been a single squirrel on the feeder! Not for a lack of trying on their part though. Apparently, they got so mad when they weren’t able to find a way around the umbrella that they tried to chew the edges off! I added some Gorilla tape to repair the edges and stop any fraying, and they’ve left it alone since.

The added bonus is that my squirrel deterrent device has held up extremely well in wind, rain and snow, and the birds are sheltered while they are eating!

I am finally declaring Checkmate!

 

Summary of Steps:

  1. Purchase a large golf umbrella
  2. Make a slit in fabric to run the hanging wire or rope through
  3. Tape the edges of the slit to prevent fraying
  4. Paint the umbrella with 2 or 3 colors of spray paint in a camouflage pattern
  5. Cut off the umbrella handle (if needed, to insert it through the suet feeder cage)
  6. If the suet feeder cage is too small for umbrella handle, snip off a square or 2 of the wire grid
  7. Attach a PVC “T” fitting to tree to prevent the umbrella from becoming a sail in the wind
  8. Let your birds eat in peace without squirrels hogging their feeder!

If you are also being outwitted by your squirrels, I highly recommend giving this project a try. If you do, please make sure to leave a comment below.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission on items bought using them. These are the same recommendations I would make regardless of any compensation. For products that I have older versions of, I recommend the items that I would replace them with if I were buying them new. 

Resources for Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Project

West Chester 40-in Solid Blue Golf Umbrella

From Lowes 
The umbrella opening is 48″. The 40″ specified in the listing is the handle.

GreatNeck 100 12 Inch Adjustable Frame Butcher-style Hacksaw

From Amazon 
Used with a metal cutting blade – most come with these blades

Diagonal Cutting Pliers, 6-inch

From Amazon 
For snipping parts of the feeder cage

 

Feeders

Our suet feeder in the video is from Wild Birds Unlimited. It’s called “WBU Starling Proof Suet/Peanut Feeder”. We are really happy with ours and highly recommend it. Some stores carry it, but it is not available for online ordering. If you can’t find this one, I have picked a few that would be easy to adapt to the umbrella feeder design. 

The red feeder hanging below the suet feeder in the followup video is also from Wild Birds Unlimited. It is call “Seed Cylinder Feeder” and comes in red or green. This one IS available online (link below) and not only do we recommend it, our birds do too!

 

There are more DIY projects in the works, so stay tuned to Uncharted DIY. Feel free to comment, post photos of your Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder or ask questions about this project.

Uncharted DIY was created for people with the DIY spirit tackling uncommon projects, utilizing common tools and often on a limited budget

Uncharted DIY was created for people with the DIY spirit tackling uncommon projects, utilizing common tools and often on a limited budget