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The ultimate bird feeder testers? Squirrels

Feeding wild birds is an easy way for anyone, young or old, to connect with nature. It can be as simple and carefree as tossing leftover crusts on the ground or as elaborate as running a year-round avian buffet. If you plan to serve the best seed to attract the most beautiful birds, however, reviews suggest you might want to invest in a squirrel-proof bird feeder. According to experts at Bird Watchers Digest, squirrels will take over your bird feeder if they can get to it by climbing, jumping, chewing or even flying. That accounts for the rapidly growing trend toward squirrel-proof bird feeders -- the focus of this report.

To help you choose, we foraged the web for reviews of squirrel-proof bird feeders. Three sources have the most extensive reviews. Bird Watcher's Digest features a report on a recent field test of 13 different squirrel-proof feeders, and has an analysis of the pros and cons of nine squirrel-proof feeders. Bill Adler, Jr.'s book, "Outwitting Squirrels" explores many strategies for coping with these wily creatures, including a somewhat outdated chapter rating 19 commercial feeders on a scale of one to five for squirrel-proofing and other features. We also found some great tips on choosing a bird feeder on the Audubon Magazine website.

One style of squirrel-proof feeder looks like a birdcage with a plastic tube feeder in the center. Although some, like the NATUBE3 Squirrel-Proof Tube Feeder (*est. $40), are reportedly effective, there are several potential problems associated with this type of feeder according to reviews. First, reviewers say squirrels or raccoons can sometimes raid the seed by either lifting the cap on the top of the tube or by chewing through exposed plastic parts. Second, the cage must be spaced more than a squirrel's arm-length away from the seed ports, and the openings must be large enough to allow small birds to enter, but small enough to exclude squirrels and nuisance birds. This means desirable, medium-size birds like cardinals and woodpeckers may be left out. Finally, two websites (including one by Cornell University's Project FeederWatch) show small squirrels can sometimes get trapped inside the cage.

Elsewhere in this report

Types of Bird Feeders

Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders

Large-Capacity Bird Feeders

Buying Guide

Our Sources

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