Stop Bird Feeder Pests

Squirrel at Feeder

Bird feeder pests are:

  • Unwanted birds
  • Squirrels
  • Bears
  • Cats
  • and other mammals

Unwanted birds, squirrels, bears and other mammals are a problem because they eat all your bird food and drive away the birds that you are trying to attract. Cats are a different problem altogether, they kill and eat our beautiful feathered friends.

Here are a few ideas that will help reduce bird feeder pests.

Unwanted Birds:

Most of these nuisance birds will attack your bird feeders in large flocks. They eat a lot of food fast and usually leave a real mess. The most common nuisance birds are European Starlings, Crows, Grackles and Pigeons. You can reduce their attraction to your feeders by using feeders that have small perches without catch basins.

Since these birds are typically large, if there isn't a place to land they can't feed. Avoiding tray feeders, keeping the area under your feeders clean and never throwing food out on the ground will keep these bird feeder pests away.

This starling-resistant, pigeon-proof bird feeder is good for small songbirds. Fill the Cling-A-Wing with one pound of black oil sunflower seed, or a blend, hang and watch as goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and other small songbirds feast. 

However, Jake writes to us below and makes a good point:

"Starlings and grackles are actually good to attract because they will eat up all the nasty grubs that make your lawn look awful. I happily feed them and they in turn repay me by keeping my lawn looking beautiful. My neighbor's lawns have huge, brown barren spots where the grubs destroyed the grass....mine is lush and green! Starlings and grackles are my lawn helpers."

All of God's creatures do have a purpose...


At first I didn't consider squirrels to be bird feeder pests. I thought it was amusing to watch as they jumped from the trees to my feeders and hung upside down as they ate. It was fun until I realized that they were eating up pounds of seed and destroying my feeders.

I've tried putting food out for squirrels in other areas of my yard, which only attracted more squirrels. I've tried expensive squirrel proof feeders, they figure out how to un-squirrel proof them. Most squirrel proof feeders are also harder to fill.

After trying everything else, I have found a few things that work.

Since squirrels can jump about seven feet, place your feeders at least eight feet from any jumping surface

Tilting baffles at least 18 inches wide placed above your feeders if hanging, or below your feeders if on a pole, work quite well. If you are hanging your feeders from a horizontal line, place loose fitting plastic tubing over the line. It will spin if squirrels try to walk across it. You can even make your own baffle from common household items like record albums, salad bowls, soda bottles or stovepipe.

Another option is diversion feeding — keeping squirrels busy with their own feeder so they'll leave your bird feeders alone. Fill with peanuts and the hinged lid lets squirrels lift the top and reach in for tasty morsels.

Have You Had Success Removing Pesty Squirrels from Your Yard?

Do you have a great story about getting rid of squirrels? Please Share!

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Training Dogs to Assist on Squirrel Patrol Not rated yet
I attached loud chimes to a pole that holds two sunflower seed feeders. The weight of birds landing on the feeders does not ring the chimes; but the weight …

Use a slinky on the pole. Not rated yet

Keeping Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders Not rated yet
I had a squirrel that could get into any feeder that I put out (I tried six - some very expensive). I used red pepper FLAKES (the powder can hurt the …

Cayenne Pepper Not rated yet
Coat surface of feeder with cayenne pepper. Squirrels hate it.

Squirrel Slinky Not rated yet
Squirrel Slinky Price: 22.95 I have had success keeping squirrels and raccoons away from my feeder with …

Vaseline! Not rated yet
Coat the feeder's metal pole with shortening, or Vaseline, or motor oil. This makes it difficult for the squirrels to get a foothold. If it is winter, …

Click here to write your own.


Cats cause the deaths of more songbirds than any other animal. Wild cats generally hunt only at night. Their prey is usually mice and other rodents; so domesticated cats do the most damage to songbird populations. It is a myth that a well-fed cat will not kill birds or small mammals. In fact, they will still kill their prey simply by instinct. Since discouraging a cat from chasing or killing birds is nearly impossible, try some of these tips:

  • If you have a cat, keep it in the house.
  • If you have to let your cat outside, tie a bell around its neck. This will give the birds a little warning that the cat is coming.
  • Don't hang bird feeders from a fence where cats can get to it.
  • Remove hiding places that a cat can strike from, such as low, dense shrubs. Or, you could plant thorny shrubs that the cats are less likely to hide in.
  • Tie cut rose stems, thorny bushes, or barbed wire to feeder poles to keep cats from climbing the poles.


Bears are the most destructive bird feeder pests.

Black bears are vegetarians and will eat anything that birds eat.They will use their strong sense of smell to locate your feeders and stored bird seed. There is little that you can do to keep bears away from your feeders. You may think that by hanging your feeders high that they will not attract bears. But since bears have a great sense of smell they will still be attracted to your yard.

Attracting bears is not in the best interest of either thebears or the homeowners. Bears that learn to approach one house will approach other houses and invariably result in concern from non-suspecting people.

Bears that become accustomed to approaching houses and people often become chronic nuisances. It is highly likely that they will end up being hit by cars, shot illegally by people who misunderstand their intentions and suffer diet deficiencies from continued improper foods.

Unfortunately if you live in an area where bears are present,you should not put out feeders from April 1 to December 1.

If you love watch birds as I do, you have to find other ways to attract birds into your yard. Try bird houses, nesting boxes, attract birds with water and creating a bird garden.

Other Mammals:

Raccoons, deer and moose have become a nuisance in many areas. The best tactic, for keeping these bird feeder pests away, is to make your feeders inaccessible with fencing. If that approach is impractical, you'll probably have to temporarily take down your feeders. Mammals will find new foraging places. If your mammalian visitors appear only at night, take in your feeders at dusk.

When you attract wild birds into your backyard you should be prepared for the bird feeder pests that come along with them.

With a little planning you can provide a safe feeding environment for our feathered friends and cut down on the amount of seed lost to these unwanted pests.

Bird feeder pests can become birdhouse predators learn how to protect your bird houses here.

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