Leaving food outside is a great way to help birds out in winter, and encourage them to visit your garden. But they’re often not the only ones looking for food, and if you want to make sure there’s some left for the birds, you may need to think about squirrel-proofing.
Squirrel-proof bird feeders are designed to allow birds to access the seeds or food inside, whilst keeping squirrels out. They generally do this with a weight mechanism, or a caged design. Remember, you can always leave other food out for the squirrels, so they don’t miss out.
To help you find the best squirrel-proof bird feeder for your garden, we’ve selected our 5 favourite options on the market, based on their durability, effectiveness, and value for money.
Last update on 2020-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API
Sorry, squirrels – this food is for the birds.
Our best squirrel-proof bird feeder features an innovative design that’s large, bird-friendly, and 100% squirrel-proof
This Jacobi Jayne Plus in Green is our top pick of all the squirrel-proof bird feeders on the market. Designed by Canadian experts, it uses a weight-based mechanism that is guaranteed to keep squirrels out.
When squirrels climb up to access the food, their weight causes the feeder ports to close, preventing them from accessing the seed. The spring mechanism on the shut-off system can be adjusted to also exclude heavier birds, such as pigeons, if you want to keep the food for your smaller feathered friends.
Other features which make the feeder attractive to birds include adjustable perches with an easy-grip coating, so they can enjoy a comfortable, firm footing as they eat, and a removable perch ring, to attract birds that prefer to cling face-on as they feed.
The extra-large 3-litre size of this feeder means it will require fewer refills than smaller designs, and a built-in ventilation system ensures that seeds stay fresh and appealing. All exposed parts are made from chew-proof metal and are rust-proof and UV resistant.
All this does come at a cost, as this is our most expensive bird feeder – but if your budget will stretch, this is a high-quality and technically-advanced bird feeder, that is highly effective at keeping squirrels and heavier birds out.
- Innovative design that’s 100% squirrel-proof.
- Mechanism also adjusts to exclude heavier birds.
- Large 3 litre capacity means fewer refills.
- Ventilation system keeps seeds fresh.
- Comfortable perches for birds.
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- Our priciest bird feeder.
- You must allow 46cm of clearance around the feeder, otherwise squirrels may reach over and avoid triggering the mechanism.
This small and simple squirrel-proof feeder isn’t the best quality, but it is highly affordable
If you don’t want to spend so much on a squirrel-proof bird feeder, this Natures Market Nut Feeder with Squirrel Guard is a great budget option.
It’s made from durable, power-coated metal, and features a bird feeder with a cage around it, to keep squirrels out. This also works to deter larger birds, such as crows and pigeons. Smaller birds are able to access the nuts, as they can fit through the gaps in the cage.
The cage comes with an attached hanging hook, for easy installation, and unlike the previous model, you can hang this anywhere, with no need for an exclusion zone – squirrels will not be able to get in, wherever it’s mounted.
On the downside, it is a little awkward to clean this bird feeder, as the cage does not detach from the feeder. There are also some reports of intelligent squirrels figuring out how the lift the lid of the feeder, and access the nuts that way (this could be solved by putting a lock on the lid).
This bird feeder may not be the best quality, and it’s unlikely to last as long as others – but for the price, you can’t complain too much, and it does the job.
- Made from power-coated metal.
- Includes cage to deter squirrels.
- Ideal for feeding nuts to smaller birds.
- Built-in hanging hook for easy installation.
- Can be hung anywhere.
- Our most affordable option.
- Metal is thin, not the best quality.
- Difficult to clean, as the feeder cannot be removed from the cage.
- Determined squirrels may be able to remove the lid to access the nuts.
This squirrel-proof bird feeder works well for feeding songbirds, but can only accommodate 2 at a time
Our next bird feeder, this UK-designed RoamWild Pestoff Feeder, is similar in design to our top pick, and uses a weight-based mechanism to deter squirrels.
This one has 2 ports, which automatically close when there is too much weight on the perch. Two ports mean not as many birds can use it as a time, but it is 100% squirrel proof, and can also keep larger birds and rats out too.
The feeder is made from UV stable polycarbonate and has a capacity of 1.5 litres. This is half that of the Jacobi Jayne Plus, but still fairly substantial compared to other models, and means it shouldn’t need refilling too often.
Good news for users is that this one comes apart easily, so it’s much less difficult to fill and clean. A built-in rain guard above the ports helps to keep seed dry and prevent clogging, which can be a problem in feeders of this kind.
As with our top pick, this one must be hung with a 45cm clearance on all sides, so you will need to think carefully about where to erect it – a freestanding pole would be ideal. If you’ve got a good spot for it, this bird feeder is well-designed, and cheaper than our top pick.
- Made from durable UV stable polycarbonate tube.
- 100% squirrel-proof, and also deters larger birds.
- Relatively large 1.5 litre capacity.
- Easy to take apart and clean.
- Built-in rain guard keeps seed dry.
- Design can be a little difficult for birds to master.
- Only 2 feeding ports, so not much space for birds.
- Needs to be hung with a 45cm clearance on all sides.
A robust, cage-style bird feeder that’s highly effective at keeping out squirrels – as long as they don’t remove the lid
Our next squirrel-proof bird feeder comes from Gardman. It’s made from durable, heavy duty aluminium, and is another cage design, with bars surrounding the feeding tube, so that only small songbirds will be able to pass through.
Importantly, the cage is far enough away from the feeder tube that there’s no way squirrels or larger birds will be able to get to it, which can be a problem with some of these designs.
As well as this, the feeder also has an antibacterial coating, which protects your birds against harmful bacteria and germs. You’ll be able to fit up to 530g of peanuts in the large feeding tube, so it shouldn’t need to be refilled too often.
This one is not as cheap as our value pick, but it’s still very reasonably priced, and is effective at keeping squirrels away from your bird feed.
- Made from durable aluminium.
- Includes cage to keep out squirrels.
- Also deters larger birds.
- FeedSafe antibacterial coating protects against germs.
- Holds a large amount of peanuts (530g).
- It is possible that a squirrel may be able to undo the top, causing the contents to spill.
This squirrel-proof feeder boasts the same great design as our top pick, but it’s smaller and more affordable
Our final choice is this Squirrel Buster Metal Feeder, by Jacobi Jayne. This is the same model as our top pick, but in the smaller ‘Original’ size.
It comes with many of the same great features as the ‘Plus’ size model, including a built-in weight mechanism to keep squirrels out, which works by closing the ports when a heavy enough weight presses on the perches. This is 100% effective, and can also be used to keep larger birds out.
The comparatively compact size of this one over the plus-size model could make it ideal for smaller gardens and balconies. However, the disadvantage of the smaller size means fewer birds will be able to feed at a time, and you will need to refill the feeder more often.
This one also boasts a 2-year guarantee, so it’s clear the manufacturer stands by their product. If you’re looking for a high-quality squirrel-proof bird feeder in a smaller size, this one might just be perfect.
- Made from chew-proof, UV stabilised materials.
- Weight mechanism to keep squirrels out.
- Can be adjusted to also keep heavier birds out.
- Same design as our top pick, but smaller and more affordable.
- Ventilation system to keep seed fresh.
- Comes with a 2-year guarantee.
- Comparatively small size means less birds can feed at a time, and you will need to refill more often.
- Needs to be hung with a 46cm clearance.
Tips For Discouraging Squirrels From Bird Feeders
Squirrels are often a cause for concern when leaving bird feed out in your garden. As well as investing in a squirrel-proof bird feeder, there are other steps you can take to discourage these fluffy-tailed looters from eating the food meant for your birds. Here are some of our top tips:
Keep the surrounding area clean
Remove any old, fallen seed from the ground that may attract squirrels. This will also help to keep the area hygienic, and free from rotting seed.
Mount on a pole
Hanging a bird feeder on a tree branch, fence or porch offers squirrels easy access. Instead, try mounting the feeder on a metal pole of 1.5-2m high, and with a clear 3m radius around it.
Fit a baffle
Baffles are metal or plastic cones which are fixed below your bird feeder. They act as a barrier to squirrels as they climb, and stop them reaching the feeder.
These have a bitter flavour that is less attractive to squirrels, whilst still being suitable for many birds, including some finches.
Squirrels dislike pepper, so try adding a small amount to your bird feed, to discourage them (birds don’t mind the taste). You can also buy bird food that already contains pepper.
Pause your bird feeding
As a last resort, remove the bird feeder from your garden for a couple of weeks, to encourage the squirrels to move on to a different food source.
How To Clean Your Feeder
It’s important to clean your bird feeder regularly, to maintain a healthy environment for you and your birds. Aim for once or twice a month – more if you’ve had a lot of rain and the feed looks mouldy. The process of cleaning your bird feeder is as follows:
- Empty your feeder of any remaining birdseed. Dispose of this in the bin, as it may be harbouring harmful bacteria, and could attract pests if sprinkled on your lawn. It is also a good idea to sweep the area underneath your bird feeder, to remove any spilled seeds.
- Disassemble the empty feeder and submerge the parts in hot water, to loosen any dried-on food or droppings. It is recommended to clean your bird feeder outside and to wear gloves.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub all parts of the bird feeder. You may need to purchase a specific brush to fit your feeder, especially if its tube-shaped and awkward to access. Rinse and repeat, until the feeder appears clean.
- Disinfect the feeder with a bird-safe veterinary disinfectant, or by submerging it in a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Rinse well.
- Place the feeder in a warm location, ideally in the sun, and allow it to air dry thoroughly.
- Refill your clean and dry bird feeder, and hang it back in its rightful place in your garden.