Nature Notes – Issue 09

Bird Feeder Challenges and Tips

by Jill K. McDonald
Hungry Red Squirrel friend, Photo by Jill McDonald

Have you ever put up a bird feeder or two in your yard with hopes to attract a variety of birds? Perhaps you’ve had a few frustrations along the way. 

You may have intended to attract certain birds with no luck thus far or perhaps you’ve had uninvited guests at your feeder. 

Well low and behold, there are a few things you can do:

  • Squirrel-proof your feeders – Squirrel shields are made for hanging or pole feeders, or get creative with plastic bottles and make your own. A good ‘ole Slinky attached under a pole feeder is another idea to deter squirrels. 
  • Keep feeders out of reach – Squirrels can jump 5-6 feet, so 10 feet of air space around your feeders is suggested by
  • Switch your seed – Safflower and niger seeds attract many birds, though they are not appealing to squirrels.
  • Feed the squirrels – Why not set up an area away from your feeders for the squirrels? Their favorite foods are whole raw peanuts, sunflower seed, and whole or cracked corn. 

Personally, when I feed birds, I mainly use just sunflower seeds, with the addition of a hanging feeder for niger. I also use a small window feeder with suction cups for sunflower seeds. I put out a certain amount of seed each day and let whatever birds or critters enjoy it as they like.

Please remember to always be kind to the wildlife that comes to your feeders. There are many kind ways to deter creatures without causing harm. They are merely looking for a good meal to survive. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes. When you look out your window, perhaps keep things in a simple perspective and simply enjoy all the beauty that surrounds you. Notice the delightful antics and joys from all visitors. And perhaps have a camera on hand to capture the moments! 

For more great articles on birds and gardening information, check out For more info on bird ID, check out

Jill K. McDonald is a freelance nature & travel educator, writer, photographer, and speaker. She can be reached by email at or connect with her on Facebook at:

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