How To Keep Squirrels Out Of Your Bird Feeders

how to keep squirrels out of bird feeder

This is a particularly challenging time of year for birds and their sometimes delicate feeders, as they compete with squirrels for every last seed.

If you have a bird feeder set up, it can be quite disheartening to look out the window and see the squirrels just shoveling all of the bird seed out on to the ground. Finally having enough of trying to chase the squirrels away, we decided to try something we’ve heard about a few times now from friends; mixing cayenne pepper into the seed. They told us that this exactly how to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders!

It may sound harsh but from everything we have read, the birds do not notice it and it passes right through their systems.  In contrast, the squirrels will get the pepper on their paws, faces and in their mouth and be turned off and leave.

The best approach is to start off slowly adding in only a little pepper at a time, especially if you have a regular group of birds that come to your feeder.  This will allow you to find out what the right amount is to ward off both old and new squirrels from your feeders.  We have found that roughly 1/8 of a cup per pound of seed works pretty well for us.  It is also an option to use pepper flakes, though its easier for the squirrels to simply eat around them and therefore less effective.

cayenne pepper in bird seed

You can see here we mixed in a little less than ¼ of a cup of cayenne pepper for 2 pounds of bird seed.  Mix well with a spoon or spatula.  I would not recommend using your hands or shaking, the particles could become airborne or you could accidentally rub it into your eyes. Trust me, you do NOT want to cayenne in your eyes. I speak from experience!

A light dusting of cayenne pepper on the ground around the feeder may also help keep them completely away from the area.  Some have found that setting up a separate area to feed squirrels away from your home and feeders helps to keep them at bay.

What are some of your tips for how to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders?

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  1. says

    Brilliant! I never thought to add it to the bird seed! Cayenne pepper also works to keep dogs from digging holes – just sprinkle it where they are digging. Dogs don’t like to get it in their noses.

    I’ve found Cayenne pepper in the dollar stores, so it’s an inexpensive fix, too!

  2. says

    What a great idea! We just had squirrels break 2 of the 3 bird-feeders we have and even the weighted one didn’t work – they just hung upside down from the tree and ate from it!