Are Squirrels Driving You Nuts?

Screenshot of Squirrel Ninja video: Courtesy Mark Rober


Yes, that is a squirrel arcing across the sky in the image above. In fact, she is trying to get to some corn and is being forced to skydive to do it, but more on that later. After several conversations with people who feed birds and are constantly doing battle with squirrels, I began to feel frustration and pain sneaking in. I took a look around at what people are doing. Or mostly trying to do, but getting foiled by squirrels who are far more clever and persistent than most people think possible. There are feeders which are supposed to be designed specifically to be “squirrel “proof”, but for some, the hit rate is spotty. Squirrels can open pretty much anything. And in a pinch when all else fails, they will trash the feeder and send it to the ground to pick up the seeds. There are a few feeders that look like they have a lot of potential, like these, but depending on your squirrels and the placement of the feeders, even these caged and slippery specially-designed squirrel rejector feeders may or may not work. One area of thought is to feed squirrels separately away from the feeder with something like this, which is very cute, but I’m not seeing much data on its viability to keep the squirrels at bay. As a kid, I recall we always had a metal baffle under the feeder which seemed to work fairly well but not well enough. It slowed down the process, but eventually, the squirrels wound up getting to the seed and made short work of it.
So I have just a couple of comments about squirrels and feeders and how to fix this relationship so it’s not as one-sided. The easiest and absolutely most effective way is to remove the feeders and plant native plants. Ok, yes, I am making this an opportunistic moment, but it actually is good advice. If you do this thoughtfully and choose plants that blossom, fruit and seed at various times, this serves birds better because they have the exact kind of food they need at different times of the year. The seeds and berries on the plants are interesting to squirrels, and they may eat some of them, but not with the gusto of a toddler having just eaten too much sugar which is what happens when an entire feeder of seed is available. This is a field-leveler.
My other comment is to enjoy it. Look, it could be worse. A LOT worse! And since people have been jerry-rigging their backyards for ages to (mostly unsuccessfully) outsmart squirrels, if you are willing to spend 20 minutes, watching this video of squirrels navigating an insanely torturous route just to munch on something (our skydiving squirrel above is in a screenshot from this video), it could be one of the happier moments you have today. If nothing else it will give you a better appreciation of the incredible gymnastic and problem-solving abilities of these fluffy-tailed rodents. Yes, this is a much different article than our normal ones, but once I saw this video, I was reminded there is entertainment and joy in even the most frustrating and supremely squirrely situations.