Posted by Beth Anne Quinlan, PhD Avian Sciences on 3/7/2020 to Wild Birds
A squirrel baffle is a device designed to deter squirrels, raccoons and other small mammals from accessing bird feeders to retrieve bird seed. They are typically mounted on the bird feeder pole below the bird feeder. The most effective placement is at least four feet from the ground, since squirrels can jump rather high, and a about a foot below the feeder.
Squirrel baffles vary in design. One type employs a rotating cylinder to destabilize the climbing surface, while another features a large round tube making it difficult for a squirrel to grab hold. Other designs include tapered cones and sloped disks. Many squirrel baffles are made of painted metal or plastic, in order to create a slippery surface.
For the best placement to protect your feeders from squirrels follow the "5-7-9" rule. The feeder should be at least five feet off the ground, seven feet away from perches that could be used as a launch pad (gutters, roofs, pergolas, etc.), and nine feet below branches.
Another type of squirrel baffle is the hanging baffle. The hanging baffle is used above hanging bird feeders to protect the feeder, not only from squirrels, but also from the elements. Rain and snow can cause the food to form clumps making it more difficult for birds to eat. Moisture will also cause the bird seed to mold and become rancid. Additionally, the sun’s rays can have a negative effect on the bird food, especially fruit and hummingbird nectar.
Hanging baffles are usually either cone shaped or dome shaped and made of plastic in order to create a slippery surface. You can choose colorful hanging baffles to add to your decor. These will reflect some of the sun’s rays, depending on the color. For fruit or hummingbird feeders, it best to use a hanging baffle that also adds UV protection.
Some hanging birdfeeders come equipped with a roof that has been designed to act as a baffle to prevent squirrels from jumping down onto the feeder.
Providing an alternate equivalent food source in conjunction with a squirrel baffle is often the best way to minimize unwanted visits to a birdfeeder. There are many squirrel feeders available, since squirrels love to eat a large variety of food.