The Most Effective Squirrel Baffle Ever (and it came free with your birdseed)!

The Most Effective Squirrel Baffle Ever (and it came free with your birdseed)! January 2, 2012

If you have a bird feeder in your yard, you will surely have had the experience of finding a squirrel sitting there, eating its fill and keeping birds from getting access to the feeder. No matter how cute you think squirrels are, you presumably want birds to be able to eat from the bird feeder. But keeping them away is a challenge, because of their intelligence and persistence, as this video illustrates:

So if you really do want to keep squirrels away from your bird feeder, are there any options other than guarding it and chasing them with a water gun or constantly smearing the feeder and pole with vaseline? Some have tried relatively ineffective squirrel baffles (a disk or cone to keep squirrels from climbing the pole), greasing the pole the feeder is on, and many other tactics, but often without success.

That’s why I thought I should share our own experience. Since making our own squirrel baffle in the way I outline below, we have seen lots of birds but no squirrels at our bird feeder.

Here’s a picture of our homemade squirrel baffle:

To make it, simply do the following:

1) Take an empty bag of birdseed (the largest size you have available).

2) One end will already be open. Open the other end sufficiently to be able to fit over the top of the pole your bird feeder is on.

3) With the larger opening downwards, place the bag over the pole/pole through the bag until the smaller (upper) opening is just below where the bird feeder is.

4) Tie the top end shut tightly.

That’s it! Be advised that if the bag is torn even slightly, particularly near the top, squirrels will use those weak points to tear and gnaw their way through. But otherwise, we’ve found that the bag is large, flexible and smooth enough that if a squirrel tries to jump onto it, they will rarely if ever be able to grab hold. And if they try to go up the inside, it blocks their way completely in a manner that smaller squirrel baffles do not, effectively preventing them from jumping onto the edge of and climbing around the baffle.

If you find that squirrels are circumventing the baffle, there is another configuration you can try. Simply tie the bottom end of the bag as well as the top. This will create, in essence, a “balloon” that squirrels will find it hard to grab onto and climb up.

I hope you find this useful. I will add that since we managed to stop our squirrels from getting access to our bird feeder, they have repaid us by stealing all (yes, I do mean all) the fruit from our fruit trees before they are ripe enough for us to eat them. They used to steal some, but I guess they are hungrier now! If we figure out a way to deal with that problem, I will share it.

If you try out this homemade squirrel baffle, please do leave a comment to let me know how well it works for you!

Let me conclude with a picture that will connect this post to one of the regular themes of this blog, however tangentially:

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  • AFB

    I prefer the “Red Rider” solution myself. Another option is the “Tipmann 98.”

  • Alandhaigh

    Train your fruit trees with about 4.5 ft straight trunk and tie your bag on it. 

  • rebecca

    This is brilliant. The best thing about it is I had all the materials right here! Our pole feeder has built in arms so most baffles won’t fit over it, but the bag did and so far so good. Time will tell but it’s been half an hour and no squirrels where before it was mobbed.

  • rmwilliamsjr

    all my squirrels problems end with a pellet gun.

  • Judy

    Thanks for this great ideal! We have had it on our birdfeeder for two days now and NO squirrels! They get inside the bag, like you said, but they can’t get to the feeder.

  • Deb Gothard

    This worked great…we actually watched and took pictures od the squirrels trying to get up the pole…thanks for the info!

  • cathy caton

    what if the balloon-bag doesn’t work?And also,how do you keep squirrels off your hummingbird feeder?

    • Have you tried leaving the bottom end open?

      I hang my hummingbird feeder from the top of my porch from a hook, and so there is no way for a squirrel to get to it.

  • Stephen Kepple

    It must never rain where you live. The bag looks like it’s made of paper.

  • This is brilliant. The best thing about it is I had all the materials right here

  • Guest

    One day while my mom was getting rather annoyed with the squirrels stealing seeds from the tray, she had a brainwave. We eat a lot of hot pepper, so we always have some lying around, in fact we grow some. Why not lace those seeds with some pepper? They’re dry and loose enough that somehow it doesnt effect the birds, but small and hidden enough to be eaten by squirrels. So, my mom went out and poured some pepper into the tray, and went back into the house and patiently waited, watching for a squirrel to come. Eventually, one happily obliged and as per routine, sauntered and limbered up to the tray where the bird seeds lay, and began feasting. But lo, today was different! Partway through his nervous nibbling a fire began to burn. As he continued chewing this fire only intensified and expanded, spreading throughout his whole mouth and entire body. He dropped the seed, and jumped off the tray, pausing on the ground to claw at his mouth, in a vain attempt to quench his discomfort.

    And there, watching from the door’s window was my mother, barely able to contain her laughter, lest she scare the squirrel away, and beaming triumphant.
    The squirrel learned its lesson–it never came back.

  • Tammy

    I have to say that I was very skeptical about this method, but can report that I was very happily proven wrong!! Mine doesn’t look nearly as neat as yours because I tied two smaller seed bags together and attached them to the post, but am amazed by the result! I tied the bags on the post on Tuesday and not a single squirrel has raided the feeder all week! At one point there were 5 squirrels on the ground around the post, but not a single one attempted to climb up! AMAZING!! Thank you so much for this tip!

  • doulos214

    Help! This has done nothing to stop our squirrel problem. 🙁

  • JustMe

    I love your idea! I did not have a large seed bag, so I used a 44 gal. black contractor garbage bag. I wasn’t sure about it, since the seed bags are much thicker. It worked for 2 days with no squirrel even attempting to climb up. Finally the brightest of the bunch checked out the situation from all vantage points, & finally had the nerve to jump from the nearest tree trunk. He was successful. I was furious. But he couldn’t get down without jumping the whole distance to the ground. My next move was to move the shepherd’s hook to a location more than 8 feet from any tree trunk. I strongly feel that everything will be fine (for me & the birds).
    I thought you might like to market your idea. This black bag billows in the breeze & reaches to about a foot from the ground. If you ever consider going someplace with your great idea, I wondered if a plastic bag company would ever be able to make decorative bags for you, with flowers, vines, colors, etc. This type of bag might look very attractive as it billows in the wind. I thank you again for the info.

    • guest

      Nope…they jump from the ground 5 feet up to the top of the bag.

  • Alyssa Kellar

    How to stop squirrels from getting to the feeders when the feeder is made to hang on a branch in a tree? We have no place to put a pole for the feeder to hang since we have trees everywhere. Also, where it is clear, it is close enough for the squirrels to jump to it and reach the feeder. Help! There is a squirrel invasion at my house!

  • Alyssa Kellar

    what do you do when you have a feeder like this one and it only can fit on the branch? how do you keep the squirrels away from them? Mine is almost exactly the same.

  • debbie

    My squirrels climbed the bag! I sprayed it with PAM, we will see. These squirrels are driving me crazy!! They are jumping from the porch ledge into my hanging baskets!!

    • debbie

      Ok, the PAM didn’t stop them either! I’m going to out some pepper in the bird seed and see what happens. I’m about to give up on feeding the birds! The only ones getting fed are the squirrels!

  • Katherine

    Genius idea- thanks!

  • S. Kim

    This is incredible. The plastic bag worked so well. The squirrels stand on their hind legs looking through the bottom of the bag baffled and I heard them try to climb up the bag (not successful and the sound of the bag scared them). There’s another squirrel on top of the fence eyeing the bird food for the past few hours but hasn’t been able to get near.

    A couple of modifications. I affixed a clear bag (leftover from mulching) midway down the pole – closer to the ground – so there was more distance between the bag and bird feeder (the proximity and rustling of the bag was scaring off some of the birds). I also chose a clear bag so it would blend in a bit more w/the landscape but did note that your bag was very thick so it had some structure so made sure the bag I chose was thick as well.

    Thanks for the tip – worked great and the best part was that I didn’t have to buy anything thus helping the birds and the environment.

    p.s. I still love the squirrels and always leave food for them in a container on the ground for them as well but they are such voracious eaters it made sense to have some bird feeders they couldn’t get to.

  • Anna Crisostomo (Zealous Educa

    Ok, I am praying this works well. I am seconds from clicking order a metal baffle for another $20 of trying. LOL My bird families are hesitant due to the bag, so hoping they realize the bag is not for them. I seriously have flocks of baby sparrows eating daily. I have baby Cardinals too, plus a few fat Doves. My husband says I am feeding the entire neighborhood of bird families. It has been fun to see them. I have a makeshift bird bath, a pot of water as a watering hole and it has been delightful to watch daily. I have tried many ways to keep squirrels at bay… jalapeno seed, cayenne pepper & red pepper in the seed, etc. They are not laughing at me as I scare them away with my hand clapping… I am sure I am the humor to their day. Thank you for your post and all.