The Eastern Gray Squirrel is the most common bandit when it comes to bird feeder raids. This acrobatic and athletic rodent has all the tools to make it into a perfect plunderer.
Squirrel Tails & Feet
Eastern Gray Squirrels are known for their ability to leap across wide open spaces and land safely on the other side, often doing so with surprising grace and agility. The key to these leaps (and amazing balance upon each landing) is their trademark fluffy tail. The tail is used as a rudder, counter balance and air brake intermittently. By manipulating it mid-leap, they’re almost always assured a safe landing.
An Eastern Gray’s paws are also worth mentioning. It has four long toes on each of its front feet and five on its back feet. Each toe also has a long claw, which further help it climbing. Its clawed toes also allow it to grasp and manipulate objects as well as helping it with climbing.
The squirrel’s other key adaptation is the ankle joints in its back legs. Unlike most mammals, it can rotate its hind feet, allowing it to climb down trees (and bird feeders) head first. That sort of flexibility gives it a lot of options while assaulting your feeders.
Eastern Gray Squirrels are active all year long, although they will hunker down for weeks at a time during the coldest winter weather. This year-long activity means they’re always on the hunt for food, and bird feeders are the equivalent of a free meal.
Squirrels eat a wide variety of food, which explains why they are so widely spread throughout North America. Nuts, seeds, berries, tree buds and even some kinds of fungi are all perfectly good dinner selections for a squirrel. When they’re lacking nutrients, they may eat small animals and eggs, too.
Squirrels live in tree cavities and homemade nests. Others may even live in your attic! Their favorite homes, tree cavities, are hollows that provide them with weather-proof shelter. They also maintain a series of nests, which are built in trees from leaves, branches and other materials. You can often see these nests as large clumps of leaves in the forks of trees in the winter and fall. The closer the nests are to your bird feeders, the more likely you are to have regular visits from a squirrel!
SQUIRREL-PROOF BIRD FEEDERS
Perky-Pet® offers a variety of bird feeders that feature some level of squirrel resistance. Some have weight-activated triggers that seal off the food. Others wrap the feeder in a cage that squirrels can’t squeeze through. Still others have chew-proof features to keep frustrated squirrels from destroying a feeder. These feeders are key components in your effort to prevent squirrels from eating the bird seed in your feeders.
When a squirrel lands on the weight-activated mechanism on one of these feeder, access to the feeding ports is automatically shut off. Don’t worry, it will only activate for a heavy animal such as a squirrel! Your birds won’t trigger this mechanism because they are so much lighter.
Perky-Pet® has several options when it comes to weight-activated feeders, including the Squirrel-Be-Gone® line of feeders.
These attractive, decorative feeders are designed to stump your squirrels when they start searching for their next meal.
Looking for more weight-activated feeder options? Perky-Pet® has developed a few others that pit a squirrel’s weight against them.
These feeders pull closed at just the right moment, making for a difficult dinner experience for an eager squirrel.
Cage Style Squirrel-Proof Feeders
Feeders with a cage built around them are another option to keep squirrels from swiping bird seed. The cages are constructed from metal, so squirrels simply cannot chew through them to reach the seed dispensing station. Some include a secondary weight-activated feature to also keep chipmunks and large birds from feeding.
Squirrels may try and chew on the bars to get through, so make sure the cage is made of a heavy-duty metal, like this one pictured here, known as our Easy Feeder®. View more of our caged feeders.
While not exactly “squirrel-proof” there’s another category of bird feeder that’s worth noting. These feeders are meant to keep a squirrel from tearing them apart as they try to get to the bird seed inside. These heavy-duty feeders have a combination of metal parts and rounded edges that squirrels can’t grip with their teeth.
The NO/NO® series of bird feeders, so named because they contain “NO” wood and “NO” plastic, are made entirely of metal. Unlike most bird feeders, the primary line of NO/NO® feeders are built with a wire mesh that allows birds to eat anywhere along the feeder surface. There is also a variety of NO/NO® feeders with a rigid shape. These chew-proof feeders are not squirrel-proof, but they do limit their access to a lot of food at one time.
Once you've selected your feeder, you still have a little more work to go in your efforts to shut down these bird-seed raiders. Having a secure feeder is great, but now you need to make sure squirrels have a tough time getting to it, and when they do they don't like what they find!
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