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The Battle of the Backyard – Me vs the Squirrels

Ok any good internet and blogging guru who encourages SEO would like me to name this post “How to Squirrel Proof your Birdfeeder for $1”, but the title I have is way more applicable to the ridiculousness of the situation.

It started like this.

“Mommy let’s make more bird feeders this year!”

Me  – “Mmm-kay…”

This is my first backyard in 21 years. And in these last two years that we have been living in suburbia, having a backyard has been eye opening to me as a life long resident of condos and apartments. Such as me learning about the ‘wildlife’ of suburbia. Garden bugs. Coyotes on school grounds. Wasps making their nests in every bird house you’ve hung up. Neighbours dogs trying to instigate fights with other neighbours dogs at 3 am when you have your window open and are trying to sleep. 

And of course birds.

For example – birds are messy creatures. They love leaving bird seed shells all over the lawn. Among other fine remnants. We even get attacked by seagulls in our backyards. Bird feeders are a whole other debacle. Cleaning them. Oh man. Let me just say, if you can recycle it, recycle it. Or else invest in a power washer.

But nothing beats the damn squirrels.

You know the movie Over the Hedge where Steve Carrell voices Hammy the Squirrel? The squirrels here are like the combination of the idiot that is Hammy meets Hannibal Lecter. And they will stop at nothing to get into the bird feeders.

The first one we had hung was the rainbow one my daughter painted:

And I thought I was so smart hanging it off our top deck thinking they wouldn’t get to it.

Not only did they get to it and chew through the wood and destroy the actual bird feeder to get to the seeds, they clawed down our deck with their feet while hanging off of it in their attempts to get to the bird feeder.

Exhibit A

squirrel damage

Did I mention we put the deck up last year?

I was like to hell with this.

Since we have no 100 year old Maple or Oak trees that are super tall with long branches to hang a long cord with a bird feeder from, I thought let’s hang all our bird feeders off of a pole. Drilled some holes into a bamboo pole, stuck in some wooden dowels and hung the feeders off of that.

Yes that is an apple sauce jar with an embroidery hoop around it. I had a good picture of it. I have no idea where it went.

bird feeder fail (2)

I thought I had solved the problem.


Exhibit B.

Ninja Squirrel Part 2. Climbing the pole. Seriously he’s like the extra for Mission Impossible.

squirrel damage (3)

Bamboo, FYI – terrible choice because bamboo has ridges. Great for making a Bean Trellis, terrible for bird feeders and keeping squirrels off of them. Oh and they ATE through the wooden bird feeder on the pole. Like it was sugar cane.

bird feeder fail

At this point normal people would tell their kids to find a new hobby other than bird watching but apparently when you’re really stubborn and pissed off that they destroyed your kids art project, you need to find a way to win.

Against a rodent.

So I went to the dollar store and picked up a clear salad bowl. Drilled a hole in the top. Then hung off it over a metal cage pipe style bird feeder. We moved it as far as we could off the plant hanger drilled to the fence, with 2 wooden blocks.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the $1 way to Squirrel Proof your bird feeder.

DIY squirrel proof bird feeder

I held my breath for Exhibit C. I knew they’d try to make a play for it.

I was right.

I caught this guy one morning.

sneaky squirrels birdfeeder (3)

Damn this thing keeps moving around. This is so much effort!!

sneaky squirrels birdfeeder (2)

Bloody hell one Black Oil Sunflower seed after all that exercise?

sneaky squirrels birdfeeder (4)

Oh. Crap. The Paparazzi can see me.

sneaky squirrels birdfeeder

And he never touched it again.

Squirrels – 2, Alex – 1…oh wait that’s a bad analogy. Never mind, I still won.

So instead, now we have this little guy and all of his family using it every morning. I think this is a Yellow Tit (seriously who thought that would be a good name for a bird?) or a Black Capped Chickadee.

squirrel proof birdfeeder

And every morning this is our breakfast routine.

bird watching

Did I mention we also now have a much cuter member of the rodent family in our yard?

We’ve nicknamed him Chip. He lives under our deck and loves when the extra seeds fall to the grass.


So take that you suburban Ninja Squirrels.

PS – if you want to read an excellent tale of just how far these guys will go, go read Lynne Knowlton’s story of when the squirrels in her neck of the woods took up residence in her treehouse all winter long as if it was a party at the Holiday Inn.

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  • Reply
    June 15, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Ohhhhh the squirrels, Lynne’s stories are the best! The squirrels like our Veggie Oil for our cars(long story)……

    We had a “chip” too….only he got into our house and Branko proceeded to call him “chippy” and thought it would be a cool indoor pet…me not so much…thank god he found his way out!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Oh no are they actually trying to get into your car??

      Yeah I’m with you on the no wildlife pets indoors. This little guy is still terrified of my 2 year old which I can imagine must be scary considering half the time she wants to hug him.

  • Reply
    Steve Hughes
    June 16, 2013 at 3:53 am

    Very funny!

  • Reply
    Victoria • Restoring our Victorian
    June 16, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Well done on defending the territory. I award you the bronze star of squirrel-defense!

    At our last house we had a “squirrel issue.” It was an old house, and they would get into the wall of the attic… this sounds like we are just squalid, and neglectful gross people who don’t mind living with animals in the wall… but I swear to you, Paul SCOURED the roofline, trying to figure out where they were getting in… and it made him INSANE, that they were “beating” him.

    I sort of thought he was over-reacting, until I spent my first night listening to a squirrel scurry around directly over our heads. THEN I was like—THIS MUST END.

    P.s.- I think that was the third time I read Lynne’s squirrel story… it never gets old.

    • Reply
      June 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Ok I need to know, how were they getting in? I swear they do things that blow my mind and hang off of things that I didn’t know they could grip into. We have birds trying to make a nest in our air vent and every time I go to the washroom at night I hear them and it freaks me out.

      It’s true. That’s one of the damn funniest squirrel stories I have ever heard.

  • Reply
    Lynne Knowlton
    June 16, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Stop it. All of you. I’m totally blushing and hot flashing at the same time with my stupid squirrel story horrors. Hahhahaahha.

    Not gonna lie… I have not seen a squirrel for weeks now and I was getting very anxious. It was like the calm before the storm. I kept waiting for them to come running along the treehouse porch and flip me the bird…. if ya know what I mean.

    Well… we adopted 3 kittens this year. Nuff said. They are barn kittens (that we feed To make a long story short.. I think I need to get little kitty cat bells on their necks. I suddenly feel like the worst person on earth. Where’d the freakin’ squirrels go ??!! *hands over ears, saying la la la la… I don’t know if I want to know the answer* eeeeeeeeeek.

    I’m officially rotten, aren’t I ?

    Squirrels are going to be picketing outside my house any moment now. Little mini squirrel activists. oh my word.

    PS. on a different note, I named the kittens $225, $200 and $175. That is what it cost to neuter/spay them etc. Nice FREE kittens huh? Therefore, if you want to get rid of squirrels…. I have $600 worth of cats that I can send you.

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Your kittens are probably super cute and deserve an entire blog post devoted to them. I’m waiting…

  • Reply
    June 16, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    We have squirrels that run along our back fence and I truly believe they do it for the pure pleasure of watching our dogs become unhinged. I really want to add a fruit tree, but I’m afraid that they will only find that as an invitation to wander off the fence and make themselves at home in our yard.

    Love your solution for the bird feeder. It’s so simple and I’m sure home and garden stores would charge big money for something less effective and not as nice looking. Major mom points!

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      I thought Raccoons were bad. No way. Squirrels I’ll bet are totally enticing your dogs to say Come and Get me!!

      I’ve seen similar ones at $30 a pop for a cover and I am like all you need is a salad bowl.

  • Reply
    Christina @ The DIY Mommy
    June 16, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    That’s such a great, simple idea! Way to defeat the squirrels. (Also, I love the jar with the embroidery hoop idea – so cool!)

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 17, 2013 at 9:24 am

    wow! i’m surprised at how hard you kept working at this! i think i would have scrapped the bird feeders a long time ago. way to stay the course and claim victory over your own yard!!! 😀

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      If I didn’t have the giant bag of sunflower seeds to use up, I probably would have said enough of this. Trust me there were days where I was like this is so not worth the pretty yellow bird.

  • Reply
    Kerrie @ Family Food and Travel
    June 17, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I had a good laugh at that one! Fantastic solution too.
    We call squirrels rats with fancy tails at our house. No love lost between us and them.
    I put up a suet feeder one winter and they chewed a 1 foot hole in our deck to get to it. I seriously ask myself what their purpose is in nature!

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      Rats with fancy tails! You need to copyright that. It’s so true. A one foot hole in your deck? Oh my God. Do a blog entry on that!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Oh my gosh! I’ve gotta give you an “A” for perseverance and determination! They’re such buggers, aren’t they?

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Evil, evil rodents they are!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Get a dog 😉

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      I love how you think… 😉

  • Reply
    June 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    This made me laugh so much Alex (and I’m loving the reappearance of the versatile embroidery hoop! ;-)). Here in the UK you can buy approximately 10,000 different traps for squirrels, as well as the usual deterrents. It’s only having bought your squirrel trap that you discover that whilst you’re encouraged to catch the beasts, it’s illegal to then release them anywhere. I think you’re supposed to bash them over the head with a spade under cover of darkness. Or, like me, you wait for darkness and then drive around the neighbourhood looking for somewhere you can stealthily open the cage without getting a) bitten or b) reported. Truly, after a couple of goes of that, you learn to live and let live…. good for you for winning the battle (albeit for now!)

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Wait they don’t allow you to release the squirrels anywhere? That is crazy. So where do they go? Like if I went to visit London would I find any squirrels anywhere? I know they’ve secretly been shipped off to the Province of Ontario over here in Canada b/c there are SO many of them.

  • Reply
    Time With Thea
    June 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    So enjoyed reading your post. So love your writing style and photographs. So love the photograph of your children eating their breakfast looking out the window. That is the evidence that it is worth your efforts. Hope all is well with you despite the squirrels. ~Thea

    • Reply
      June 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks Thea! The yellow bird has become our unofficial pet b/c we have no pets. My oldest wants a dog. I told her when she moves out she can get a dog.

      • Reply
        Time With Thea
        June 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm

        But a dog does not migrate like your yellow bird will. Then you will be without a pet for the winter. Kidding aside, dogs are great pets but they are extra. At least the bird stays outdoors. Take Care, Thea

  • Reply
    Amy @ The Connection We Share
    June 29, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Good for you for out beating them! What little buggers. We have so many squirrels that hide nuts everywhere in my garden.

  • Reply
    Moe a.k.a. @biggirlblue
    July 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    I swear I am the only one who loves squirrels. I totally don’t mind them at all. I get as much joy watching the squirrel at the feeder as I do the birds. We used to have lots of both until we got a dog. The neighbors around here complain constantly about tulip bulbs getting stolen but I always find I have extra. 😉 We have resorted to metal bird feeders though because they do like to chew through them to get the hole batch (as you know). We have not had any issues with them and have had them for a few years now. I have to agree, why would anyone name a bird a yellow tit — very pretty though. Look at it this way, had you not had this battle and journey around the yard you might not have had your new visitors. They have a good view for eating there. Happy birdwatching!

  • Reply
    December 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Looks like a goldfinch to me. Love the $1 bowl idea…I’m doing it!

  • Reply
    Dave Markle
    September 14, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Great Read! thanks for the advice and the pics!

  • Reply
    Lori Pease
    June 3, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    I am going to try this. Thanks for sharing. loved and laughed at your story. I feel your pain.

  • Reply
    Donna J.
    July 8, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    All of you ladies made my day! I’m fighting the demon rodents too. You guys ALL made me laugh soooo hard. Thank you for that!❤

  • Reply
    April 29, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for this intriguing story. I have two bird feeders hanging from my rear gutter with a thick wire found at Lowe’s. Squirrels love jumping from our power lines to the roof, and to the gutter where they jump from. I swear everyday I scare off no less than a dozen squirrels, and bird food ain’t cheap. I love this idea of using a clear bowl flipped upside down to protect the feeder. I’ll be heading to my local store to grab one, and *hope* it solves the problem.

    BTW, are those fence 4×4’s topped with a solar light? How do they look at night?

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