Last Updated on October 13, 2020 by Nancie
I’ve seen the Squirrel Buster Classic in stores before but always thought that its sister, the Squirrel Buster Plus, was a newer, better, bigger feeder. So I never gave this one much thought. But last year I took another look at it and have been using one in my yard ever since. I’ve found that I really like it and so do the birds! Here is my review of this feeder.
Squirrel Buster Classic vs Squirrel Buster Plus
Both the Squirrel Buster Classic and the Plus are weight activated tube feeders. This means that their shrouds come down to cover and block the seed ports if a squirrel gets on it.
- Classic holds 1 ½ quarts/2.4 lbs of seed
- Plus can hold 3 quarts/5.1 lbs of seed
- Classic measures: 5.3” x 5.3” x 20.625”
- Plus measures: 6.5” x 6.5” x 23.75”
So the Plus itself is about twice as big. The Classic has a very long hanger though, which means you need to allow for just a little more hanging room.
But there are some interesting differences. The Plus is all smooth surfaces – plastic and metal. To use it, birds land on one of six perches and/or the cardinal ring that can be added to join the perches into a spoke-like wheel.
The Classic is metal and plastic too but the seed tube is covered with a metal mesh shroud.
On this one, it is this mesh shroud that comes down to cover the ports (openings in the mesh) if a squirrel lands on it. (The above two pictures show a port open and then closed.)
Clinging Birds on the Feeder
But the mesh has a secondary purpose. Clinging birds can land almost anywhere on the feeder to either eat or wait their turn to eat. This is especially appealing to acrobatic birds like American Goldfinches. White-Breasted Nuthatches love to approach the ports upside-down, something they can’t do on the smooth surfaced Plus. And Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are comfortable clinging to this feeder to eat sunflower hearts.
Removing Feeder Perches
The Classic has four ports with U-shaped metal perches that clip over the mesh. The perches can be easily removed by opening up the clip just a bit with a flat screwdriver and sliding the perch off. This creates an interesting dynamic on the feeder.
Without perches, some bigger birds that sometimes dominate feeders have less of an advantage. Birds like Common Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds and European Starlings can still grab hold of the mesh and cling a little bit to grab some seed. But they are not as comfortable as the smaller clinging birds who seem quite content to hang around on the mesh. So these larger birds spend a little less time on it than they would on a feeder with perches.
Also without perches, there is less tendency for even the smaller birds to settle in and try to keep a perch occupied for long periods. There are often smaller birds climbing all over it and reaching in to grab a seed from different angles. So, there seems to be more movement and turnover. Interestingly, I see less bickering, even among the notoriously bickering House Finches, probably because they are positioned to hang on rather than sitting on perches next to each other where they can give each other a hard time without losing their spot.
Keeping Squirrels Off Feeder
The Classic’s weight mechanism is not adjustable the way that it is on the Plus, so you can’t try to adjust it to keep larger birds off of the feeder. This one’s weight activation is just intended for keeping squirrels out and maybe something really large like a pigeon. But I haven’t found this to be an issue.
While the Squirrel Buster line of feeders work wonderfully for keeping squirrels out, I’ve honestly had less success with trying to use the Plus’ or Standard’s weight activation to keep larger birds like grackles out. So in a weird way, not having the option on this one simplifies things for me.
I originally hung this feeder hanging from a baffled pole in the middle of my back yard (above), but when I needed a spot on the pole for a new Erva Starling-Proof Bluebird Feeder, I moved the Classic to a tree branch. I have an Erva extra large disk baffle over it. (This is overkill for a Squirrel Buster feeder but I lock squirrels out of my feeders with a vengeance!) So there has not been squirrel actually on this feeder in my yard. But since it works the same way as the Plus which I have seen work, I’m confident that if one did somehow manage it, they wouldn’t be able to get in.
It’s important that you follow the feeder placement guidelines though. Because it is activated by the squirrel’s weight, you need to allow 18” clearance all the way around the feeder so that a squirrel can’t reach from something else to get into the feeder without putting their weight on it.
Hanging the Feeder
This feeder does have a very long 12″ hanging wire though. I had to get an extension for my Erva dual shepherd’s hook pole to allow enough room for the feeder to hang and still be above the pole’s squirrel baffle. (So keep the extra measurement in mind when you plan where to put this one.)
The feeder is easy to fill and hang. It only has the four ports but they are all toward the lower half of the feeder so I don’t have to top it off every day the way I do with tube feeders that include ports near the top of the tube.
Brome’s tube feeders are designed with a ventilation system to allow fresh air to enter the bottom of the feeder, rise up and out of water-proof vents at the top. This keeps the food fresh. This feeder has been out through several blowing rain storms and so far I’ve had no problem with any clumping or molding seed, something that can sometimes be a problem with tube feeders.
Filling & Cleaning the Feeder
To open it, press down and turn the top, just like on a medicine bottle. Lift the lid off and to the side. It remains attached to the interior center post by the hanging wire. Pour seed into the clear seed tube until it reaches the bottom of the yellow center post cap. If you overfill it, excess seed leaks out immediately. To close it, push down and turn the top into place. Re-hang it.
The feeder comes with directions for taking it apart for cleaning. Brome recommends a solution of dish detergent and water followed by a rinse of a 20% solution of water and white vinegar. They don’t recommend using a dish washer.
It’s not hard to take apart and that makes it easy to clean, but hang onto the directions so you’ll have them when needed. If you misplace them though, Brome’s website offers the text directions as well as a video to walk you through it.
Birds Using This Feeder
This feeder became instantly popular in my yard. If I put safflower in it, it is mostly dominated by House Finches. But if I fill it with sunflower hearts, lots of birds will visit the feeder. So far I’ve had the House Finches, Purple Finches, American Goldfinches, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Pine Warblers and even a few Chipping Sparrows.
Larger birds on it include Blue Jays, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and European Starlings, although since I took the perches off, they don’t stick around long to completely dominate the feeder.
Even when I had the perches in, the Northern Cardinals weren’t on this one, but in my yard they strongly prefer platform feeders, hoppers or eating on the ground, so it isn’t surprising.
Note: The seed you put in a feeder makes a big difference. Check out my post on Choosing Seed For Backyard Birds.
Squirrel Buster Classic
I really like this feeder. When filled with sunflower hearts, it is one of the most popular feeders in the yard. Even though they have to share it with other birds, small birds like finches seem to prefer it over the cage feeders they have all to themselves. If you’ve looked at the Squirrel Buster Plus and thought it was more expensive than you’d like, give a look at this one that runs about half as much. It’s a solid feeder that should do well for you.
More on Putting Up A New Feeder
Which Feeders Attract Which Birds?
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8 thoughts on “Squirrel Buster Classic Feeder Review”
The classic is a popular feeder in my yard as well. I haven’t tried removing the perches yet but I’m tempted to give it a try. I do have a problem with seed clogging the bottom ports during wet weather. I almost always have to clean it out after a bout of rainy weather. That being said I don’t a have baffle on this feeder so it’s more exposed than the squirrel buster plus. You can purchase a baffle made for the plus model.
Hi Tim, That’s interesting. I have an Erva baffle over mine but that would really only keep out rain coming straight down. It’s hanging with two other feeders, so it is possible that they might be blocking rain from that side . . . or maybe I’ve just been lucky! So far removing the perches has worked well for me. It probably depends on the birds that visit your feeder. Mine seem fine with it. Nancie
I’ve had my squirrel buster feeders for many years. I really like them. This year I’ve run into an issue that I can’t seem to remedy. I’m open to any and all suggestions of solution.
The cage that surrounds the tube holding the feed, shifts to the left or right of the feeding ports. This does not allow the birds access to the food. I turn it slightly to get the ports in place, but I return to find the cage shifted again. Is there any way I can stabilize the cage so it doesn’t shift and cover the feeding ports?
Oh wow. I haven’t seen that problem. As you know since you’ve had these for a while, the cage should shift up and down if a squirrel lands on it but not right and left.
I’m thinking one possibility might be that there is a lost screw or other type of connector that is no longer securing the cage that surrounds the tube. Is the nut under the bottom of the feeder still in place for example? Brome guarantees their feeders. My suggestion would be to check their website page for the Classic feeder and compare the pictures of the feeder assembly to your feeder (especially the top and bottom where the cage is secured) and see if there might be something missing. https://bromebirdcare.com/squirrelbusterclassic/
Either way, I would contact Brome and tell them the problem. I’m thinking they should be able to sort out what is happening. If you do, I’d really be interested in hearing what they say.
Hello, I absolutely love your feeders. Yes, they’re expensive but well worth the price. I do have one problem with one of my feeders though.
The steel cable under the cap is frayed and separating, can I buy a new cable for it?
I too am a Squirrel Buster feeder fan, but I don’t sell them myself. You’ll need to contact the folks at Brome who make them: https://bromebirdcare.com/squirrelbuster-plus/ They should be able to help you out.
I am having trouble with the Squirrel Buster Classic as the Magpies have discovered if they fly up and knock the feeder the seeds fall to the ground. Is there any way I can fix it to a pole? I know the plus has such a fitment but did not want to pay almost £80 for a feeder I don’t need.
Any thoughts anyone?
That’s an interesting question. You might want to try reaching out to the maker (Brome) and see what they suggest. They might have an idea that works with that feeder’s design.
My thoughts: The Squirrel Buster Classic works by the weight of a squirrel pulling the cage surrounding the plastic tube down, covering the ports. So for the feeder to function in that way, the bottom of the cage needs to be able to move up and down by a few inches. If you somehow mounted it to a pole underneath, I would think that would not allow this up and down movement. Of course, if you did get it mounted on a pole, then maybe you could baffle it from squirrels from below and that wouldn’t be a problem . . .
I do wonder if there is a way to instead immobilize it from swinging back and forth (which it sounds like is what the magpies are doing.) If it didn’t swing, I’d think the seed would be much less likely to fall out when the magpies knocked against it. Maybe a monofilament string (like heavy weight fishing line) run through the two bottom ports and then anchored to the ground directly below? I’m thinking that *might* allow the up and down movement of the cage but not the back and forth. I’ve never tried this so I don’t know if it would work or what squirrels might do with that set-up, but it wouldn’t be an expensive experiment to try.
Good luck! I’d love to hear what you find works.