How To Protect Bird Feeders From Pests

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / Melanie Hobson

Bird feeders liven up any yard, and it’s rewarding to watch birds feed on them. That said, it’s quite annoying when pests eat from your bird feeder and even damage it. Many homeowners wonder how to protect bird feeders from pests.

The best way to protect bird feeders from pests is to attach a seed tray and baffle. Rain covers also help keep animals, such as mice and squirrels, away from bird feeders. It also helps to hang your bird feeder instead of mounting it on a pole. Keep your bird feeder 6 feet off the ground, so deer and opossum can’t reach it.

You can also bring your bird feeders inside each night, so nocturnal animals stay away. Follow along as we explore how to protect bird feeders from pests.

How to Keep Animals Away From Bird Feeders

Whether it be seed trays and squirrel baffles or basic maintenance, it’s easy to keep pests away from bird feeders. Through trial and error, we found the best ways to protect bird feeders from pests, such as:

1. Attach A Seed Tray

Seed trays keep your bird feeder clean, and that helps protect it from pests. Seed trays let the birds easily eat the food without spilling it everywhere and making a mess. You can simply attach the seed tray to the bottom of the bird feeder.

Keep in mind that small seed trays aren’t effective enough to keep animals away. Look for a big seed tray so none of the food spills out and attracts animals. Animals will attempt to reach the bird feeder if they notice food on the ground, but that’s not a problem with a seed tray.

2. Install A Rain Cover

Rain covers, or weather guards, protect bird feeders from rain, and they also keep animals away. They typically cost only $10-$30, and they’re easy to install. You can simply attach a rain cover to your bird feeder in under a minute.

They don’t keep all pests away from bird feeders, but they limit access. Rodents will struggle to reach your bird feeder, but bugs may still access it.

3. Clean Your Bird Feeder

It’s easy to forget to clean bird feeders since they’re outside. However, pests will keep trying to access your bird feeder if it’s messy. Excessive and fallen food attracts animals to your bird feeder.

Clean your bird feeder a few days per week to remove uneaten food. This is also your chance to check the feeder for cracks and even bugs.

4. Attract Owls

As cute as owls are, they are fierce predators. They hunt and eat many of the pests that steal food from bird feeders, such as mice and squirrels. You can attract owls to your yard if you build an owl house.

Owl houses typically cost $40-$200, and they are easy to install. Otherwise, you can simply build a DIY owl house out of wood. Make sure to stock the owl house with food and make the hole big enough for owls to get inside. Put the owl house close enough to your bird feeders so they’ll eat the pests around it.

5. Move Your Bird Feeder

Is your bird feeder close to shrubs? If so, that could explain why so many pests are drawn to it. Rodents and opossums often hide in and around shrubs when they look for food.

They will likely emerge from the shrubs if they notice food that’s fallen from your bird feeders. That’s when they are most likely to try to steal food from the bird feeder.

6. Raise The Bird Feeder

Bird feeders that are low to the ground will almost certainly attract animals to eat the seeds. Deer and even groundhogs are drawn to low-hanging bird feeders. You can protect bird feeders from such pests if you raise your bird feeder at least 6 feet above the ground.

This will also keep cats, dogs, and rodents away from your bird feeder. It won’t affect the birds, as they can still easily access the feeder without a problem.

7. Contact Animal Control

While you can’t call animal control just because pests eat from your bird feeder, you can call about feral animals. Animal and wildlife control centers remove feral animals from the wild to protect other animals and people. Feral cats are often drawn to bird feeders, and some of them may carry diseases.

Only call animal control if you suspect that some of the animals that approach your bird feeders are feral. It’s up to them to determine if their presence is needed, and they may humanely remove the animals.

8. Install A Baffle

Much like rain covers, baffles are attachments that help protect bird feeders from pests. They are specifically effective if squirrels typically go after your bird feeder. This dome-like attachment makes it hard for squirrels to access your bird feeder.

You can simply hang a baffle above the bird feeder to protect it from squirrels. They typically cost $17-$50, and they are easy to install.

9. Move The Feeder Inside At Night

If all else fails, simply bring your bird feeder inside at night to protect it from pests. This is a great idea if you only have problems with your feeder at night. You only need to do this if nothing else works, and you notice damage from pests every morning.

Many pests, such as mice and opossums, are mostly active at night. In that case, you can simply bring your bird feeder inside at night. Put your bird feeder back outside in the morning, so the birds can enjoy it. This is inconvenient, so it’s worth it to try other remedies first.

10. Avoid Poles

Pole-mounted bird feeders are the most likely to attract pests. That’s because it’s so easy for animals to climb the pole and reach the food. Even garden snakes can slither up the pole, but you must mostly worry about squirrels and mice.

Hanging bird feeders ensures that only birds can access them, for the most part, and that’s ideal. They are also easier to install, even if they’re harder to clean.

Summing It Up

Attach a seed tray and rain cover to protect bird feeders from pests. Keep your bird feeder clean and remove fallen food from the ground so animals don’t see it. Move your bird feeder away from bushes, and mount it 6 feet above the ground so deer and opossums stay away from it.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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