I have found there are typically three reasons that someone wants to add a dedicated squirrel feeder to their backyard.
1. They love squirrels! And they adore them so much that they want to make sure they get enough to eat, away from those pesky birds. 🙂 (Not very common.)
2. Entertainment! Squirrels are incredibly athletic, acrobatic, and relentless. They will do just about anything to get to an easy food source. Why not let them show off their skills to make us smile? (A little more common.)
3. They’re throwing up the white flag in surrender. Since squirrels can’t be stopped from accessing and eating their expensive bird food, it’s time to try and deter them another way. (Pretty much everyone!)
By placing a squirrel feeder in your yard, that is easy to reach and filled with delicious food; the hope is that squirrels will leave your bird feeders alone, using the squirrel feeder instead and opting for the path of least resistance.
Reason #3 falls under the category of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Squirrels can be incredibly frustrating because of their uncanny ability to get onto our bird feeders, no matter what we do to try and stop them. Because these ravenous rodents eat so much, they can put a severe dent in your wallet as they gobble up your premium black-oil sunflower.
Regardless of the specific reason, this article should help you find the best squirrel feeders for your backyard.
Does having a squirrel feeder save money?
Before we get to my list, I want to dig a bit deeper into why it may actually save money to buy a feeder that feeds squirrels separately.
I’m going to do my best to show you my squirrel feeder math! Please know these numbers are approximations, but hopefully, I will get my point across.
First, the average Gray Squirrel eats about 1 pound of food per week. Naturally, each squirrel is different, and each species will vary widely, but 1 pound per week seems like a fair number to use.
Conservatively, let’s assume a squirrel consumes 25% of its food from your backyard feeders, or 4 ounces per week (16 ounces in a pound). And your backyard is currently feeding four squirrels.
So, four squirrels each eating 4 ounces of food would mean that you are providing 1 pound of food per week specifically for squirrels, which adds up to 52 pounds of food every year that you provide JUST FOR SQUIRRELS! (4 squirrels x 4 ounces of food/week x 52 weeks/year)
The actual cost of feeding squirrels an extra 52 pounds of food per year:
Now, let’s compare the cost of feeding squirrels sunflower chips from your bird feeder vs. setting up a separate squirrel feeder that is filled with cheap corn.
*Please know that the prices of bird food range drastically from buying online, your local feed store, or specialty bird store. For comparison purposes, I used bird food that I have purchased myself on Amazon. Prices change regularly, so please do your own analysis.*
Average Cost of Sunflower Chips: ~ $3/pound on Amazon.
$3/pound x 52 pounds/year = $156/year of sunflower dedicated JUST TO SQUIRRELS!
Average Cost of Whole Kernel Corn: ~ $.50/pound on Amazon.
$.50/pound x 52 pounds/year = $26/year of corn dedicated to squirrels.
The squirrel feeder math is clear:
As you can see above in my example, it would be MUCH cheaper (saves $130/year!) to feed squirrels whole kernel corn from a squirrel feeder then letting them have access to your sunflower chips. This savings easily offsets the cost of buying a separate squirrel feeder. And if you have more than four squirrels or each one eats more than .25 pounds per week, then the savings would be even more significant!
Plus you get the added benefit of squirrels not dominating your bird feeders, scaring away hungry birds, and stressing you out in the process.
The 6 Best Squirrel Feeders
In my opinion, this is one of the best squirrel feeders you are going to find.
It easily mounts to a tree or post (hardware included). Also, it’s made of steel, so it can withstand the chewing, gnawing, and abuse that squirrels can dish out.
To feed the squirrels, simply lift the roof up and fill with corn, peanuts, or whatever else you decide to use. Squirrels learn that to eat, they have to lift the roof to get inside.
This squirrel feeder prevents birds too, which is nice. The roof is too heavy for jays or blackbirds to lift, so only squirrels can use.
Many times, simple is best. And simple is what you get with the above squirrel feeder.
The back mounts to either a tree or post with the included hardware (and pre-drilled holes!). Once attached, merely push an ear of corn down onto the screw, and you are ready to feed squirrels!
The best part? This squirrel feeder is very inexpensive and is typically under $15.
You should be able to see my tray feeder in the LIVE stream below from the ground underneath my feeders. During the day there can be multiple squirrels, and at night it’s common for opossums, raccoons, and rabbits to visit.
I have become a raving fan of my platform bird feeder made by Woodlink, which is what I’m using to feed squirrels.
It is incredibly versatile! Currently, I have it sitting directly on the ground supported by the four metal legs that fold out, but it can also be hung or mounted on top of a pole.
This platform/tray feeder is not made only to feed squirrels. I use it to feed all sorts of different birds too. It depends what sort of mood I’m in, what I’m trying to accomplish, and the foods that I offer.
My current strategy is to fill with whole kernel corn and place about 30 feet away from my primary bird feeders. Squirrels, grackles, and jays are attracted to the food, and it keeps them far enough away to let the smaller songbirds eat comfortably at my main bird feeders.
And as a bonus, several Mallards have been visiting almost daily to feast on the corn. And seriously, who doesn’t like looking out their window to see ducks in their backyard!!??
Now it’s time to provide a few options that not only feed squirrels but deliver some laughs and entertainment!
The Woodlink Squirrel-Go-Round feeder is a ton of fun. It attaches to the side of a solid surface and features five arms that extend out around a wheel. Each of the arms holds an ear of corn.
The above video gives a great demonstration:
As the squirrel climbs out and tries to feed, the weight sensitive wheel starts to spin. Squirrels eventually figure out how to eat, but it takes a lot of skill and patience!
Before you read any farther, there’s one thing you need to know about the Horse Head Squirrel Feeder:
It is designed for fun and to provide some laughs. It’s probably not going to be a long-term solution for distracting squirrels away from your bird feeders.
But there is something charming watching squirrels put on the horse head.
This squirrel feeder is literally just a plastic horse head that is hollow inside. Place some food that squirrels love, like peanut butter, on the inside and then hang from a tree, so the bottom is a few inches from the ground. You will probably have to adjust the height a few times to get it right for squirrels.
Warning: There is a high probability of a squirrel eventually destroying the feeder by chewing through the plastic. The horse head is probably not a permanent solution.
Personally, I think the horse head squirrel feeder would make a fun gift.
6. Songbird Essentials Squngee Bungee Cord
(The above video gives a demonstration of the Spungee Bungee Cord. The action begins at the 23-second mark. Make sure to see the raccoons at 1:34.)
Have you ever wanted to see a squirrel bungee jump?
Don’t worry. I didn’t think I did either until I came across the Spungee Bungee Cord from Songbird Essentials.
It’s another squirrel feeder that is designed to provide hours of entertainment.
The bungee cord hangs from a tree and suspends ears of corn just out of the squirrels reach. The only way for them to feed is to jump up. When the squirrel lands upon the bungee cord, it does what bungee cords do and gives the squirrels a good ride.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
No matter what your motives or reasons are for feeding squirrels at a separate feeder, I’m confident you will be able to find a great option with the list of the top squirrel feeders above.
Some are incredibly durable, sturdy, and effective (#1-3), while others are just a whole lot of fun to put in your backyard (#4-6).
Regardless, buying one of the best squirrel feeders is a great way to distract these mammals away from your bird feeders AND potentially save you a lot of money on bird seed.
Personally, I enjoy having squirrels in my backyard and like watching their crazy antics. But I don’t want them sitting on top of my bird feeders filling their bellies with expensive food preventing any birds from eating.
And most importantly, dedicating a separate feeder just for squirrels and filling it with inexpensive food can help you finally come to terms with squirrels in your backyard. Instead of fighting and trying to prevent them all the time, you can rest easy knowing you have them under control and are not wasting lots of money feeding them.
And having peace of mind is worth its weight in premium sunflower seeds. 🙂
Before you go, please answer these questions in the comments below:
What is the best squirrel feeder you have used?
What are the best strategies you have used to distract squirrels away from your bird feeders?
Thanks for reading and happy birding!