Finally... a Squirrel Proof Feeder that works – I won this Round! Easy, inexpensive DIY solution, less than two hours and $20
A squirrel proof feeder baffle 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.
See the new video below, showing a reinforced high wind speed version of this effective squirrel deterrent!
How to Make the Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder - The Follow Up
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Reloaded - High Velocity Wind Edition: Version 2.0
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. Commercial baffles aren’t large enough to guard and protect our birds and their food. 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!
…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.
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:
- Purchase a large golf umbrella
- Make a slit in fabric to run the hanging wire or rope through
- Tape the edges of the slit to prevent fraying
- Paint the umbrella with 2 or 3 colors of spray paint in a camouflage pattern
- Cut off the umbrella handle (if needed, to insert it through the suet feeder cage)
- If the suet feeder cage is too small for umbrella handle, snip off a square or 2 of the wire grid
- Attach a PVC “T” fitting to tree to prevent the umbrella from becoming a sail in the wind
- 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
The umbrella opening is 48″. The 40″ specified in the listing is the handle.
MulWark 16pc Precision Craft Hobby Utility Knife Set
Great value set compared with single knives
GreatNeck 100 12 Inch Adjustable Frame Butcher-style Hacksaw
Used with a metal cutting blade – most come with these blades
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!
08/08/2020 @ 12:48 pm
On August 8th, 2020, Sistalov C. asked on the YouTube video: “I would like to know how this project been doing lately”.
Since I can’t post images on YouTube, I thought I’d add a photo here from yesterday to show how the Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder is holding up.
It’s been over 4 months, and it looks the same as the day I put it up! Also, not a single squirrel has made it onto the feeder, and they have completely given up trying. They are happy to eat out their own feeder and have left the suet to the birds. We have peace in our backyard!
I encourage readers that have done this project to post photos!
Thanks for reading UnchartedDIY.com!
09/25/2020 @ 2:19 pm
I have posted a followup video showing how the feeder is holding up five months later. It also has lots of photos of the happy creatures in the yard.
It’s a short video, but it provides a few peaceful moments to counteract some of the craziness in the world!
It’s posted above, just below the original video.
09/25/2020 @ 1:34 pm
Purchased a basic small hopper feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited.
I was concerned about big birds just hogging up the space. You would not believe that Morning Doves actually like to sit on the feeder. Not eating. Just blocking up the sides.
So, I added a bunch of ‘things’ to this feeder to prevent large birds from sitting on the feeder.
So far, it is working.
I still think Nature wins. No matter what I do, some big bird still manages to gum up the works.
09/25/2020 @ 2:21 pm
Thanks for sharing your modifications, Bruce! They are clever and address the issues of the big birds keeping the smaller ones away, even if they aren’t actually eating all the food. Wild Birds Unlimited has nice feeders, but I’ll bet they didn’t think of doing this. I especially love the use of the magnets!
Those doves do seem to like to hang out just taking up space, and they won’t move for anyone or anything! Your “wings” are really smart, AND they look nice too. Did you use kitchen cutting mats for the plastic?
I might try a couple of these in the future too! Nice work!
10/01/2020 @ 9:59 pm
Some YouTube comments bring up great questions, so I’m also posting them here. On October 1st, 2020, Bellva dear asked on YouTube:
“An ingenious solution to squirrels eating bird food. I noticed when you cut the bottom of the umbrella shaft that it was hollow. Wondering if it is possible to cut the shaft at the other end and thread the cable through.”
My response: Thanks for asking such a great question, Bellva! If your tree is higher off the ground (out of a squirrel’s jumping range), running it all the way through the shaft might work really well! I love the way you think!
For my situation, I considered running the cable through the handle, but it needed to come out near the top so the feeder didn’t hang too low. You can see that the branch it hangs from is pretty low in my followup video: https://youtu.be/cSblI98pAPw
I couldn’t cut the handle down since running it through the feeder really helps stabilize it in the wind. Then, I thought about just running it part way from the top and exit a few inches down through a hole, but I was concerned that it might weaken the shaft.