Uninvited Guests: Squirrels and Other Animals
How do you keep squirrels out of hummingbird feeders? This is an age old question along with how to keep a squirrel out of a bird feeder, bird bath, fruit tree, you name it. Squirrels are very cute and fun to watch, however, they do carry fleas, plague, and rabies.
Squirrels love a nice long drink of sugar water just like a person likes a nice long drink of water. Squirrels are very adept to doing long jumps and mid air acrobatics to try to reach a hummingbird feeder. However, the most common way for a squirrel to reach a hummingbird feeder is to climb down from the top where the feeder is mounted. To prevent this from happening, try a Squirrel Baffle. This is a disk mounted above the hummingbird feeder that is designed to tip with the slightest touch. You can purchase a Squirrel Baffle or make one yourself.
You can make a squirrel baffle by using the cylindrical body of an old ink pen, a large round bead, a length of wire, and a pie pan with a hole in the center. Here is how to put it together.
- Tie the wire to the top of your hummingbird feeder.
- String the body of the ink pen onto the wire.
- String the bead onto the wire so that it rests on top of the ink pen (this will allow the pie pan to roll easily).
- Turn the pie pan upside-down and string it through the hole on top of the bead.
- Hang up your hummingbird feeder.
This way when a squirrel tries to land on the pie pan, he/she will just roll off when the pie pans rolls under the weight. This also makes a great umbrella for the hummingbird feeder in the rain.
Be creative and decorate your homemade squirrel baffle. Send us your photos. The rest of the members would love to see them.
There are also really good tactical manual on dealing with squirrels called Outwitting Squirrels by Bill Adler.
Another thing to do with squirrels that are bothering your hummingbird feeder is to just feed them. It's not really suggested because squirrels dig lots of holes in the ground and can potentially carry disease. Therefore, try not to encourage them from coming around the house. By feeding them it may just increase the squirrel populations making them not only dig more holes, but make them dependant on humans for food. If you want to feed the squirrels in your area, first make sure that there are no laws in your area prohibiting you from doing so. If it is legal for you to feed squirrels, try out some of these squirrel feeders, or you can make your own. Remember, squirrels can eat their own body weight in food every day.
Raccoons are also pests that can invade a hummingbird feeder for its nice sweet nectar. If you find that a raccoon is invading your hummingbird feeder it is best to work with your local animal control agency to see if the raccoon can be trapped and relocated. Raccoons are extremely smart and thoughtful and really fun to watch, but they can also be really mean, and they can carry rabies.
If you live in bear territory, it is good to know what kind of bears you have and what their habits are for many reasons other than just for your hummingbird feeders. All bears have excellent noses and can smell something sweet for miles away. Black bears have been known to rip open a car just to get at some sweat smelling shampoo hidden inside the trunk by an unsuspecting camper.
Try to hang your hummingbird feeders at least 10 feet above the ground and close to people territory. If food is scarce, bears will start to raid feeders even if they are close to your home. If this happens, it is in your best interest to take down the feeders and notify your local animal control agency that handles problem bears in your area immediately.