Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Nancie
If you hang a bird feeder from a tree, you need the best hanging squirrel baffle you can get. Squirrels can eat most of the food you put out for birds unless you use a truly squirrel-proof feeder or a really good squirrel baffle or better yet, both. Don’t just buy whatever you see labeled “baffle” and expect it to work. Here is what to look for in a good squirrel baffle.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
First, let’s look at the difference between effective squirrel baffles and weather domes. When it comes to squirrels and feeders, this is an important difference.
Bird Feeder Weather Domes
So What is a Weather Dome?
Weather domes are sloped or dome-shaped pieces of clear plastic or metal that hang over a bird feeder. The goal is to keep birds and seed dry (or at least drier) when it rains or snows. Some weather dome manufacturers also claim their dome(s) will block squirrels from feeders and may call them “baffles” even though they won’t actually baffle a squirrel at all.
When purchasing a weather dome, consider the size of the feeder. You want a dome wide enough to cover the feeder, ideally with at least a few inches to spare. A dome that is too small for the feeder won’t be as effective in keeping either birds or seed completely dry.
Weather Dome Effectiveness
Weather dome effectiveness can vary by feeder type. They do best in light rain. Birds can often continue to eat at a dome covered feeder in light rain, or even heavier rain if coming straight down, and still stay fairly dry.
But you need to be realistic. Even with a good sized dome, seed can still get wet in heavy rain or when wind drives rain sideways. When used over a large platform feeder, seed in the corners will often get wet even if most of it stays dry. And seed in open platform feeders can still get buried in heavy snow or completely soaked in heavy rain.
So even if your feeders are protected with weather domes, it is important to check them after heavy rain or snow. If platform feeders get snow covered, birds can’t eat there. And wet seed or other food can get moldy, rot and cause disease. After it rains, clean out wet seed and re-fill with fresh.
Weather Domes Are Not Baffles
While I haven’t tried every possible weather dome, I’ve tried several. And I haven’t found one that is at all useful in protecting a feeder from squirrels. I only use domes on pole-mounted feeders protected from squirrels below by a pole barrel baffle.
Best Hanging Squirrel Baffle: Erva Extra-Large Baffle
So What is the Best Baffle Choice?
When I need to protect hanging feeders from squirrels, I instead use a wide flat metal baffle. My absolute favorite hanging squirrel baffles, which I HIGHLY recommend based on my own experience with them, are Erva’s extra large metal hanging baffles. (Link is to Erva products on Amazon.)
I’ve talked about these before. I have them over my hanging tube feeders and on several hanging platform feeders as well. I’ve also used them successfully over suet feeders.
These squirrel baffles are big, about 22″ wide. Squirrels can’t chew through their solid galvanized metal construction. And because they are so wide, squirrels can’t get past them and down onto the feeder below (as long as the feeder isn’t wider than the baffle.)
Baffle and Feeder Position Is Important
In my experience, these baffles will protect your feeder from squirrels as long as you position the feeder outside of squirrel jumping range. Positioning is extremely important with baffles. Be sure to check out my post on How to Baffle Suet Hung on a Branch. (The advice in the post works for other types of feeders as well.)
Position the feeder and baffle right and squirrels can’t bypass the baffle from the side or below. Just the other day I watched two squirrels trying again and again to get past one of these baffles and down onto a feeder hanging below. They never got there. I suspect these were young squirrels who thought they’d give it a try even though their parents have long since stopped even trying.
Squirrel Baffles Also Help With Weather
Like weather domes, these baffles also provide similar protection from light rain and snow. (Because these baffles are wider than most weather domes, I use these over wide platform feeders hung on poles even though the pole already has a barrel baffle below.) This baffle’s thin side profile also makes it less in-your-face visually than typical bird feeder domes.
I have a yard full of (many) squirrels every day of the year, but I also use Erva squirrel baffles over all my hanging feeders. Squirrels do not get into these protected feeders. While not inexpensive, a good baffle pays for itself in birdseed that doesn’t go into a squirrel’s belly.
Read More on Dealing With Squirrels
Note: The bones of this post was originally part of the Stop Baffled Feeder Blowing in Wind post. I split it out to streamline that post and to make this information easier to find. I’ve also expanded on it.
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