Bird feeders provide entertainment for bird-watchers and other nature enthusiasts, but unwanted guests such as squirrels can detract from this experience by preventing birds from properly enjoying a feeder. Squirrels, with their ability to jump and strong teeth for gnawing, can be a persistent problem.
To deter these pesky rodents, some bird feeders employ features designed to keep agile squirrels from accessing the food inside. The best squirrel-proof bird feeders use materials that squirrels can’t damage while also making aesthetically attractive additions to a garden or patio in an array of shapes and sizes. With such a variety available, we wanted to find out which options were really best at keeping squirrels at bay, so we put them to the test.
Keep reading to learn about some important features to consider when shopping for the best squirrel-proof bird feeder, and check out our choices for the top options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Brome SquirrelBuster Plus Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Brome SquirrelBuster Mini Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
- BEST HANGING: Droll Yankees Domed Cage Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
- BEST LARGE: Droll Yankees Yankee Flipper Squirrel-Proof Feeder
- BEST CHEW-PROOF: Brome SquirrelSolution 200 Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
- BEST FOR SUET: More Birds Double Suet Squirrel-Resistant Bird Feeder
- BEST POST: Akerue Industries H-F Absolute II Two Sided Feeder
How We Tested the Best Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders
Bird feeders come in various shapes and sizes, are made of different types of materials, and include different features that make some more appealing than others. We tested each bird feeder according to established rubrics that included capacity, materials, ease of cleaning and filling, overall aesthetics, how well it attracted birds, and—most importantly for this test—how well it deterred squirrels. We rated each feeder based on these rubrics on a scale between 0 and 4 to determine their score.
We first determined how easy it was to fill and clean the feeders. Next, we examined the feeder’s hanging mechanism, sturdiness, and squirrel-deterrent mechanism. Lastly, we installed each feeder and observed how well it attracted birds, how easy it was for them to feed, and how well it deterred squirrels.
Our recommendations are durable, easy to assemble and hang or mount, and accommodate a variety of different birds and seeds. They are aesthetically pleasing and prevent squirrels from accessing food from the feeder. Whether that’s by using a cage to protect the food, an adjustable tension spring to repel larger animals/birds, or by being successfully mounted out of squirrels’ reach, they each serve their purpose.
Photo: Debbie Wolfe
Our Top Picks
The best squirrel-proof bird feeder can take many forms, from tension-spring designs to spinning and chew-proof options. These are our top picks, from mini designs to extra-large feeders, for some of the best squirrel-proof bird feeders we tested for gardens and patios, based on material, design features, and seed capacity.
This Brome bird feeder holds more than 3 quarts of seed and uses a tension spring to keep squirrels and other unwanted guests from accessing it. A squirrel’s weight automatically closes the feeding ports, and the tension system is adjustable to allow smaller birds to feed while keeping bigger birds, such as crows, off as well. The feeder also features a cardinal ring, which allows cardinals to perch comfortably while they eat.
This bird feeder is made of RoxResin, a type of epoxy resin that prevents damage from a determined squirrel’s chewing. It has a ventilation system to allow proper airflow through the feeder and to prevent birdseed from going bad.
We love Brome’s feeders because they are well built and do a good job of thwarting squirrels. We liked this feeder in particular because it was easy to hang right out of the box and accommodated a wide range of birds. With its six feeding ports and perching ring, small- and medium-size birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, finches, and cardinals sit comfortably while eating.
While we appreciated the cardinal ring, we found it a bit tricky attaching it to the perches and wondered why it did not come preinstalled. Brome feeders are a tad pricey, but they’re made with sturdy materials such as resin and metal, indicating that they’re a solid investment likely to last several years.
- Type: Tension
- Capacity: 3 quarts
- Material: Metal, plastic, and resin
- Adjustable-tension system allows users to set the maximum weight allowance to keep unwanted larger birds (such as starlings) from using the feeder
- No assembly is required; ready to hang right out of the box (without the cardinal ring)
- A ventilation system allows humidity and hot air to escape through the top of the feeder, keeping birdseed fresh and dry
- Expensive compared to similar-style competitors
- The cardinal ring is cumbersome to attach
Get the Brome SquirrelBuster Plus squirrel-proof bird feeder at Amazon.
Deterring squirrels needn’t be a pricey proposition. This budget-friendly Brome SquirrelBuster Mini bird feeder holds about a pound of birdseed and features four metal perches. Made out of durable steel, the feeder uses a tension spring, which automatically closes feeding ports when a squirrel’s weight hits the perches. The feeder is designed to be hung with clearance so that the tension spring works as intended.
The feeder also features a ventilation system, easy assembly, and components made from the tough epoxy resin RoxResin to prevent damage from chewing. It’s designed for all types of seed for a variety of birds, and in testing, it attracted all songbirds, including cardinals and titmice. No assembly was required—it was ready to hang right out of the box. It’s small, but that means there isn’t much area for a squirrel to grab onto, which makes it even more pest-proof. However, the small size does mean a smaller capacity, requiring us to fill it a couple of times per week.
- Type: Tension spring
- Capacity: 0.6 quarts
- Material: Metal, plastic, and resin
- Feeder is made of durable steel, plastic, and resin
- Features Brome’s ventilation system that helps keep seed fresh and dry
- It’s ready to hang right out of the box and easily slides onto a shepherd’s hook
- Only accommodates 0.6 quart of birdseed, so requires frequent filling
Get the Brome SquirrelBuster Mini squirrel-proof bird feeder at Amazon.
The integrated wire on some hanging bird feeders can be flimsy and thin, but this model features an oversize stainless steel hanger to stand up to plenty of avian activity. Ready to hang right out of the box, the feeder slips easily onto a shepherd’s hook or “S” hook—and it can also be pole-mounted, if desired.
To deter squirrels, this Droll Yankees feeder features both a cage and a dome to keep squirrels and other pests out. A variety of smaller songbirds can easily fit through the cage openings while squirrels and larger birds cannot.The dome also helps protect the seed inside the feeder from the elements, and its clear design allows for unobstructed bird-watching. Made of plastic and metal, it has six feeding ports and features a 1-pound seed capacity. It works well with a variety of birdseed to attract different kinds of birds.
The baffle is conveniently located below the feeding tube’s opening, so no disassembling is needed to fill it. Our only problem we noticed is that some larger songbirds, including cardinals, did not fit through the cage openings.
- Type: Cage with baffle
- Capacity: 1 pound
- Material: UV-stabilized polycarbonate and metal
- Includes an integrated cage and dome that keeps pesky squirrels at bay
- Has 6 feeding ports to accommodate several birds at a time
- Hangs easily on a shepherd’s hook or “S” hook; can also be pole mounted
- It only accommodates smaller songbirds and not larger species such as cardinals
Get the Droll Yankees domed cage squirrel-proof bird feeder at Amazon or Chewy.
This 21-inch feeder from Droll Yankees holds 5 pounds of birdseed and features a motorized perch ring, which runs on rechargeable batteries located in the encased motor. It spins under the weight of the squirrel to flip the animal off the feeder, yet it accommodates both large and small birds without activating the spin. For additional deterrence, squirrels should not be able to budge the tight-fitting metal cap, and the feeding tube is designed to be too difficult for them to hold onto.
It has four feeding ports and is constructed with metal and UV-stabilized plastic to prevent discoloration over time. The feeder also features an internal baffle to prevent seed clogging at the bottom. In testing, the Yankee Flipper proved to be the most durable and robust model in our lineup, and it worked extremely well to keep squirrels off. But it’s heavy, especially when filled with seed, so it caused our shepherd’s hook to droop—be sure to use a sturdy hook secured to a strong base.. The only other caveat we’ll add is that this motorized model must be chargedregularly, depending on the amount of squirrel activity, with the included AC adapter to keep squirrels at bay.
- Type: Tension springs with spinning mechanism
- Capacity: 5 pounds
- Material: Powder-coated metal and UV-stabilized polycarbonate
- Holds a large capacity of seeds, so needn’t be filled very often
- Offers an innovative, squirrel-proof design that effectively flips squirrels off the feeder
- Features a UV-stabilized polycarbonate tube and powdered-coated metal base that will last outdoors for years
- Charging the feeder may be needed fairly frequently if there’s a lot of squirrel activity
Get the Droll Yankees Yankee Flipper squirrel-proof feeder at Amazon or Target.
Some persistent squirrels can ruin feeders by chewing to gain access to food. The SquirrelSolution 200 aims to stop those stubborn pests with the protection of RoxResin, an epoxy resin the company claims is 100 percent chew-proof, waterproof, rustproof, and UV stabilized to prevent discoloration.
This attractive midsize feeder uses a tension spring that reacts to the weight of the squirrel to prevent it from feeding. Birds can hold on to its six feeding ports as well as the green metal cage that encloses the feeder. The feeder has a seed ventilation system and holds 2 quarts of food. It works best with black-oil sunflower seeds, which can attract a wide range of birds, including cardinals, goldfinches, chickadees, woodpeckers, and blue jays.
This feeder was our chew-proof pick for best bird feeders because of its squirrel-proof design and overall bird attraction features. In testing, it successfully foiled squirrels with its tension-spring system, while the size and design lured the likes of nuthatches, finches, and chickadees. However, larger songbirds such as cardinals and titmice seem reluctant to feed on its smaller perches.
- Type: Cage and tension system
- Capacity: 2 quarts
- Material: Metal, plastic, and resin
- Boasts a seed funnel that makes it fast and easy to fill
- Its durable and attractive design keeps seeds safe from squirrels
- Multiple smaller birds can perch on this feeder with ease
- Some larger songbirds have issues perching on the small perches to feed
Get the Brome SquirrelSolution 200 squirrel-proof bird feeder at Amazon.
Best for insect-feeding birds, the More Birds suet feeder holds two cakes of suet and is surrounded by a cage to bar squirrels effectively. The top also secures tightly so squirrels can’t work it off to gain access to the suet.
This feeder can hold seed cakes for smaller birds as well as suet. Its cage, made with a powder-coated steel to resist rusting, allows smaller birds to slip inside and larger birds to reach in to access the suet. It’s also easy to use with a lid that protects suet from the elements.
This suet feeder performed well in testing. It effectively kept out squirrels due to its small openings on the cage and baffle at the top. It’s designed to be hung and can’t be pole mounted. The only other issue we’ll point out is that this suet feeder only accommodates smaller songbirds—in fact, the small openings in the cage are designed to deter “bully-bird” species. The trouble is, woodpeckers are one of the most common suet feeders, and they aren’t any more aggressive at feeders than most of their smaller songbird counterparts. We think it’s a pity that this feeder does not allow access to woodpeckers and other larger suet-feeding birds.
- Type: Cage
- Capacity: 2 suet cakes
- Material: Steel and aluminum
- Double-sided design allows multiple birds to feed at a time
- Simple design effectively keeps squirrels away from the suet cakes
- The opening mechanism makes the feeder easy to fill and clean
- Does not allow larger bird species, like woodpeckers, to feed
Get the More Birds squirrel-proof bird feeder at Amazon or Chewy.
This squirrel-resistant bird feeder from Akerue Industries is made of powder-coated steel and comes complete with a 5-foot mounting pole and all necessary hanging hardware. Designed with a tension spring that collapses the seed port under a squirrel’s weight, this feeder keeps squirrels out effectively.
With light, medium, and heavy settings, the spring is adjustable and can be altered to accommodate small to large birds. Chew-proof with a locking top, this feeder is double-sided, so birds can feed from both sides. It’s easy to fill with seed and holds up to 12 pounds of birdseed.
In testing, the Akerue Industries H-F Absolute II Two Sided Feeder kept squirrels at bay most of the time and attracted many bird species. We did have a couple of tenacious squirrels that managed to swipe a few handfuls, but we did not consider that a deal breaker. We liked that it holds a large amount of seed and requires infrequent filling. However, this feeder is heavy and large, so it should be pole mounted as opposed to hung for security.
- Type: Weighted perch with baffles
- Capacity: 12 pounds
- Material: Alloy steel and polycarbonate
- A 5-foot mounting pole and necessary hardware for installation included
- Uses adjustable tension spring to keep squirrels and larger bird species, such as crows and starlings, away
- Requires less trips to the feeder to fill because it holds up to 12 pounds of birdseed
- This feeder requires a heavy-duty hook mounted to a study frame in order to use its hanging option
Get the Akerue Industries squirrel-proof bird feeder at Amazon or Tractor Supply Co.
Nature’s Hangout Window Bird Feeder With Suction Cups
We liked the idea of a transparent acrylic window feeder so we could watch birds unimpeded. Unfortunately, this model did not measure up to the testing standards outlined in our rubrics. It had no specific features to repel squirrels and could only keep the creatures at bay if it were hung far enough away from any jump-off points that squirrels could access. The feeder was easy to install and fill, but its open design didn’t keep the seeds dry. It also took birds a while to become attracted to the feeder, but we did find it fun to see them up close at the window.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
There are a few key considerations to keep in mind when seeking the best squirrel-proof bird feeder, including style, size, type, and ease of use. The following are some of the most essential features to think about when searching for a way to keep squirrels out of a bird feeder.
There are different ways to make a bird feeder squirrel-proof, including baffles, cages, tension springs, collapsible perches, and rolling mechanisms. Each of the different types has unique advantages.
- A baffle is a type of dome, usually made out of plastic or metal, that goes over the actual bird feeder to prevent squirrels from climbing down onto it and accessing the seeds. Baffles may also be used on pole-mounted bird feeders to prevent squirrels from climbing up to the feeder.
- With cage bird feeders, a cage surrounds the actual feeder, which allows birds to access the food with their beaks or by slipping through the bars of the cage. The cage makes it difficult if not impossible for squirrels to nab the food successfully.
- Some bird feeders use tension springs, which essentially close the feeding area when too much weight is put on it. While birds can sit on a perch and eat, a squirrel’s weight will cause the spring to restrict the feeding area, preventing the squirrel from accessing food.
- With collapsible perches, a bird can safely sit and eat, while the weight of a squirrel will cause the perch to bend and the squirrel will be dropped to the ground.
- A bird feeder with a rolling mechanism will turn completely when a squirrel drops on it, which will throw the squirrel off while birds simply fly away. It rights itself immediately and automatically, so birds can come back to feed while squirrels are deterred.
Different bird feeders hold different amounts of food. Some are smaller and designed exclusively for suet food, while others can hold several pounds of birdseed. Which size and capacity is best depends on the circumstances.
While smaller feeders will need to be refilled more often if there are a lot of birds feeding, a smaller size can be ideal for only a few visitors. For others, a large bird feeder that doesn’t need to be filled with birdseed as often makes the most sense.
The size can also determine how many birds can feed at one time. Cylinder-shaped feeders, for example, typically contain between four and six feeding ports. The size can also affect what kinds of birds come to a feeder. While cardinals and finches like cylinder feeders, woodpeckers often go for larger platform feeders.
Size may also affect where a bird feeder can be placed. Larger feeders typically need more support when hanging or mounting, while lighter feeders or window feeders offer more locational flexibility.
While squirrel-proof bird feeders can be made of different materials, they aren’t typically made from wood. Squirrels have tough front teeth that can gnaw at wood, making other materials a better option. A few popular materials used to construct these feeders include metal, plastic, acrylic, and epoxy resin.
- Metal, such as powder-coated steel, can be very durable. However, it can get hot in higher temperatures, which may not be ideal for warmer climates or sunny areas.
- Plastic feeders are generally durable, easy to clean, and somewhat resistant to breakage when dropped. Ultraviolet (UV)-stabilized plastic is a popular material for bird feeders, as it prevents discoloration from the sun over time.
- Acrylic is transparent to allow for unobstructed bird-watching, so it’s suited for window feeders and other areas where humans congregate to observe feathered friends.
- Epoxy resin is a durable, synthetic resin material capable of preventing damage from squirrels chewing on feeders.
Feeders can also be made from multiple materials, such as metal and plastic, to combine the benefits of each.
Most bird feeders are designed for different types of birds, but some are more suited for certain types of birds than others. For example, squirrel-proof suet feeders surrounded by a cage can work better for birds with long beaks, like woodpeckers. Others, such as window feeders, are typically better suited to smaller species of birds, like wrens and finches.
Some squirrel-proof bird feeders also are designed to hold suet, sunflower seeds, or another specific type of food, meaning they aren’t ideal for every bird type. For example, insect-eating birds such as woodpeckers love suet, but sunflower seeds are popular with a wider variety of birds. Most feeders allow for a seed mix, which can attract different types of birds that prefer various different foods.
Ease of Use
The best squirrel-proof bird feeders are the best for a reason: They prevent squirrels from getting the birdseed. However, they can be tricky to operate, as the design features meant to throw off squirrels may also make it more difficult for humans to fill them with food.
Some squirrel-proof bird feeders are easier to use than others. Most are designed to be filled through the top. Some come with mounting equipment if they’re pole- or window-mounted, while others offer the option of hanging the feeder from a tree or a stand.
If the bird feeder can hold a large amount of seed, the bottom can become clogged with seed. Some squirrel-proof bird feeders contain internal baffles that can help evenly distribute the seed to feeding ports, which prevents clogging.
The best squirrel-proof bird feeders often have additional features that make them a good investment, such as a ventilation system to keep birdseed from spoiling, chew-proof features to stop stubborn squirrels from ruining a feeder, and domes to protect a feeder from the elements and provide additional squirrel protection.
There also are different styles and designs, including feeders shaped like houses or those that feature green metal leaf decals. Which additional features will be the most beneficial depends on the particular location, which types of birds will be feeding there, and how aggressive the local squirrels are about getting food.
You now know more about squirrel-proof bird feeder types and features, but may still have a few lingering questions. Below are answers to some of the most common questions about these devices.
Q. Can a squirrel climb a metal pole?
Yes, squirrels can climb metal poles, but plastic or metal baffles can help keep squirrels from successfully climbing poles.
Q. Do bird feeders attract rats?
Bird feeders don’t attract rats. However, spilled seed from a bird feeder that’s left on the ground has the potential to attract them.
Q. Where in my yard should I put my bird feeder?
Many birds are attracted to feeders near natural shelters like trees, but placing feeders near trees can also give squirrels easier access. Putting a feeder in an open space can help deter squirrels.
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