Do Squirrels Scare Birds Away?

Last Updated on May 11, 2024 by Nancie

American Goldfinch and Female House Sparrow on Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder with Baffle Added
(American Goldfinch and House Sparrow on Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder with Baffle)

Squirrels not only eat seed from bird feeders, but squirrels also scare birds away. So even if you have a weight-activated “squirrel-proof feeder”, you might still want to baffle it to keep squirrels from jumping on it and frightening birds away.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Why Baffle a Squirrel Buster Feeder?

I bought my first of two Squirrel Buster Plus feeders (Brome Bird Feeders on Amazon) years ago. It is a pricey feeder even if you can get it on sale, which I did. But I reasoned that if I could keep squirrels out of the sunflower hearts, I’d easily make back my investment in savings on birdseed. It worked. But while these feeders don’t technically need baffles to keep squirrels out of the seed, I still added one over each one. Here’s why.

The cool thing about the Squirrel Buster line of feeders is that as long as you follow the placement advice that comes with the feeder, squirrels are defeated. This mostly means that you need to allow 18″ clearance all around. Mine are hung from tree limbs using long hooks. They are placed out of reach of other branches squirrels could hang from to reach the feeder’s side without tripping the mechanism.

It works by an adjustable weight-activated mechanism. You set the weight. Then when something heavier puts their weight on the perches, the feeder’s outer sleeve slides down. This covers the food access ports. The squirrel can sit there, but they can’t get to the food. (For more on this feeder, check out my Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder Review.)

Squirrels on a Closed Feeder Still Scare Birds Away

Squirrels initially left the Squirrel Buster feeders completely alone. I never even saw a squirrel seriously try them . . . until the weather turned really cold. Then for week or so, squirrels began an all-out assault on all of the feeders, even these. Despite a lot of effort, they never succeeded in breaching these feeders.

But they started climbing down the shepherd’s hook to get on the feeder. (This is a pretty awesome skill when you consider how thin, curved and slippery as these poles seem.) All that squirrel activity on the feeder kept frightening birds away.

Adding a Baffle to Stop Squirrels From Scaring Birds

I went to my local bird store (Mother Natures in Columbia) and talked with one of the knowledgeable women who work there about baffles. She assured me that these feeders have a lifetime guarantee. Brome will repair any structural damage a squirrel might inflict. She felt that the only reason to need a baffle is if you are bothered by cosmetic damage that might result in the squirrel’s efforts to get into the feeder, as that isn’t covered. (2024 Note: Mother Nature’s has just converted to a Wild Birds Unlimited Store.)

I thought about it, but I really wanted to discourage squirrels from hanging on the feeder at all and spooking the birds. And it seems wasteful to have to replace parts, even if it doesn’t cost me anything personally, if there is a way to avoid damage in the first place.

So I purchased a large metal baffle (Erva galvanized steel) that reminds me of a green metal parasol. Squirrels can’t chew through the metal and its extra wide size keeps them off of the feeder hanging below it. (If you need to choose a hanging baffle, see my post on Best Hanging Squirrel Baffle.)

This first baffle worked so well that so I purchased a second one for my other Squirrel Buster feeder. The two Squirrel Buster Plus feeders with their Erva baffles still hang on the same tree limbs years later. The squirrels never have found a way into the seed. Each year at least one of the new crop of young squirrels will give it a try, but can never get past the baffle. Mostly the squirrels have given up and have to make due with eating spilled seed off the ground. (Check out one squirrel’s futile attempt in the pictures below.)

For more on squirrels and feeders, also see my post on Solving Squirrel Bird Feeder Problems.


Squirrel thinking about climbing down to bird feeder.
Planning the Attack
Squirrel on Baffle peering down at feeder.
Peering Down at the Feeder
Squirrel on baffle unable to get to bird feeder.
Nope, Won’t Work.
Squirrel climbs back up the shepherd's hook.
The Retreat
Squirrel on branch after being blocked by Squirrel Buster eeder and Erva baffle.
Squirrel Frustration

Brome Bird Feeders on Amazon

Moving a Bird Feeder

Where to Put Bird Feeders: Spread Them Out!

Putting a Ground Feeder on a Pole

Where to Hang a Suet Feeder?

How Many Feeders Do I Need?

Where to Hang a Suet Feeder

How to Baffle Suet Hung on a Branch

How to Hang a Feeder With a Hook

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4 thoughts on “Do Squirrels Scare Birds Away?

  1. I have the same style Squirrel Buster feeder and I use a different style baffle over it for two reasons: 1. It protects the birds from rain/snow while they’re feeding, and 2. It is designed to prevent a squirrel from even being able to get on the baffle. I use the clear plastic “Mandarin” style baffle (which I got at Mother Nature’s, but is also available on on my feeder which hangs from a hook attached to my shed and is actually closer than 18″ from both the hook above it and the side of the shed. Squirrels slide off of it if they try to get at the feeder from above, so I’ve had no problems with them being able to get to the feeder, let alone scaring birds away. Just my two cents worth…

    1. Hi Diana,
      Cool! Good to know that style baffle does the trick. Backyard birdwatching is so much less stressful when the squirrels are kept off the feeders!

  2. I haven’t seen a bird ina couple of weeks
    I leave nuts for 2 squirrels but they haven’t touched bird seed oh what to do ??

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