July 12, 2016
FeederWatchers are always trying to find a way to prevent squirrels and chipmunks from emptying their feeders. Often “squirrel-proof” feeders are a momentary puzzle, quickly solved by these tricky rodents. When Dale “Bud” Leppard reached out to Project FeederWatch with his squirrel-proof feeder set-up, we were intrigued. No baffles? No spinning devices designed to launch squirrels? Bud’s set-up involves a post that squirrels and chipmunks cannot climb because of its girth and slippery surface. Additionally, Bud installed patio pavers below the feeders to make cleaning up spilled seed an easy task. This summer would be the perfect time to install a new feeder set-up in preparation for the FeederWatch season. If you do decide to give it a try, please let us know how it works and, most importantly, if your chipmunks and squirrels are thwarted!
Here are Bud’s instructions for making feeders squirrel proof:
1. Purchase a hardwood 4″x4″, and cut it to about 7′ in length. Buy a plastic 2 gallon bucket and place the 4×4 in the bucket, then pour concrete around it and let it set, making sure that the 4×4 stays perfectly upright until the concrete hardens.
2. Dig a hole in the ground slightly larger than the bucket where you want the feeder to be–making sure that it is far enough from any raised objects so that a squirrel cannot jump up to the feeders. Dig the hold 2-3″ deeper than the height of the bucket. Place the bucket in the hole and pour concrete around it and let that set, making sure that the 4×4 stays perfectly upright. After the concrete sets, fill in the rest of the hole with dirt.
3. Four-square tubes are available at some birding stores and lumber yards. They fit perfectly over a wood 4×4. They are very slick, so that a squirrel cannot dig his claws into them, and they are just wide enough that it cannot put its paws on opposite sides and slither up. Cut the plastic tube so that it sits on the ground and ends at the top of the 4×4. Place the tube over the 4×4, using shims on all 4 sides to prevent wobble. Screw bolts through the plastic and into the wood on all sides. Make sure the bottom of the plastic is well into the ground, so that chipmunks cannot get under it and climb up the 4×4. (Don’t ask me how I know that.)
4. From a birding store, purchase swing-arms, as in the photos, and attach them to the top of the feeder. Use bolts long enough to go well into the wood post.
5. For the top cardinal feeder, I put some wood pieces on the top of the post, bought a pole feeder mount and attached it to the bottom of the feeder. Then I drilled a hole in the wood pieces exactly the size of the pole and inserted the pole. There is a collar at the top of the metal pole which slides off very easily for cleaning and filling the feeder.
6. If desired, attach plastic covers to the swing-arms with the dual hook type of attachment that allows the plastic to be removed for cleaning. The hook unit is attached to the plastic cover and has a circle hook above the plastic cover, which connects to the swing-arm, and an open hook below the cover, which allows the feeder to be removed from the arm without removing the cover. In addition to helping keep the seed dry during rain or snow, birds really love the covers and sometimes just sit there out of the rain or snow and fall asleep.
7. To keep the large birds from resting on the swing-arms and making a mess on the plastic covers, I ordered some plastic spikes and attached those to the swing-arms. It does help with the larger birds, but some of the smaller ones can still perch on the spikes.
8. Finally, I went to a stone seller and purchased the stones seen in the picture, and I placed them around the feeder. They serve three purposes: one, it is easy to sweep up the empty seed and hose off the area or clean off the snow in winter; two, you don’t have to wade around in the mud and snow to fill the feeders; and three, the seeds that fall from the feeders are easy to reach for the squirrels, chipmunks, and ground feeding birds.
It sounds complicated, but it is really much easier than it sounds, and I guarantee that your pocketbook will be much happier not having to feed the squirrels as well as the birds.