Best squirrel proof bird feeders 2022: Keep crafty critters from stealing your birds' food

Cardinal bird using squirrel proof bird feeder
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are those of us that love squirrels and those of us that can't stand them, but regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, it's likely you don't want these mischievous little monkey's stealing the seed you put out for your feathered friend. If you've invested in the best bird feeder but find it's not quite keeping these critters out, swapping to a squirrel proof model could be well worth the investment. 

When it comes to how to keep squirrels out of your bird feeder, selecting one that's been specifically designed to deter these crafty critters is your best line of defence. While no feeder is 100% squirrel proof, models that are labelled as 'squirrel proof' have extra features that will make accessing your feathered friends seeds that much more difficult.

There are lots of great designs on the market these days, but when selecting a feeder, the most important thing is going to be durability. You want something tough and sturdy, that’s been well designed and can hold a range of birds while being able to outsmart squirrels and other pests.

You'll find that the hoppers all come in varying sizes, with some able to hold as much as five pounds of seed, which is ideal if you're not wanting the job of having to clean and fill the feeder every few days. Some designs also give you the option of hanging the feeder or mounting it on a pole, so if you're looking for some flexibility as to how you use it, we highly recommend choosing one of these models. 

To help you find the best squirrel proof bird feeder for your backyard, we've rounded up our top picks that are lining the shelves in 2022. Let's take a look....

PetsRadar's pick of the best squirrel proof bird feeders

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Brome Squirrel Buster Bird FeederBest buy award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Brome Squirrel Buster Bird Feeder

Best overall squirrel proof bird feeder

Specifications

Height: 23 inches
Diameter: 6 inches
Capacity: 5.1 lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Huge 5.1 pound capacity
+
Thick and adjustable perches 
+
Pole-mountable

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

With over 7,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, it's clear that bird lovers have gone nuts for the Squirrel Buster and it's not hard to see why. With a generous 5.1 pound capacity, it's one of the largest bird feeders on the market, and it comes with the option of being hung or attached to a pole, offering great flexibility.

When it comes to squirrels, they'll be hard pressed to get into this little beauty. Openings in the shroud align with the feeding ports, providing birds access to the food. When a squirrel climbs onto the feeder, its weight automatically forces the shroud down, closing access to the ports.

The perches are thick and adjustable, offering a comfortable place for birds to stand while feeding and the unique Cardinal Ring System allows Cardinals to face their food source, rather than having to turn their head to eat, which they find difficult.

Chew-proof and UV-resistant, the Squirrel Buster is designed to be dismantled by hand into individual components for easy cleaning. While it's more expensive than other models on the market, the rave reviews suggest that this squirrel-proof bird feeder is money well spent. 

North States Two-Way Squirrel BafflePets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: North States)

North States Two-Way Squirrel Baffle

Best budget option

Specifications

Height: 5.8in
Diameter: 15.75in
Capacity: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Protect many feeders
+
Effective
+
Cheap

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires careful siting
-
Some skill needed to mount

A baffle requires you to first mount your feeder – or multiple feeders – on a pole. You then install the baffle around the pole, more than halfway up. The domed shape and slippery nature makes it impossible for the curious critter to climb any higher, protecting your nuts. Another method is to hang your feeders from a chain or rope, with the baffle positioned to stop squirrels climbing down. 

Both methods require planning and careful positioning, however, as squirrels can jump. They can either jump from the ground to land on the pole above the baffle if it’s too low, or can leap from a nearby tree, building, or anything it can use to get the necessary height. Likewise, if you use the dangling technique, squirrels can jump from whatever you have anchored your rope on. Careful placement – on top of a pole with a large clear area around - is therefore essential for successful use of a baffle. Get this right, and they’re very effective, and also nice and cheap, being just a dome (or cylinder) of plastic.

We’ve chosen a North States model as it’s made from tough, chew-resistant plastic, and comes with the mounting hardware you’ll need. You may find cheaper ones, especially if you’ve got a few screws around the place you can use to put it up, but make sure the baffle isn’t going to give in easily to jaws and the weather.

Roamwild Squirrel Proof Wild Bird FeederPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Roamwild)

Roamwild Squirrel Proof Wild Bird Feeder

Best spring-loaded feeder

Specifications

Height: 21in
Diameter: 7.5in
Capacity: 3lbs

Reasons to buy

+
All metal
+
Good capacity
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Siting still important
-
Heavier birds excluded

A clever solution to the problem of squirrels – and other mammals – getting to bird food is the spring-loaded bird feeder. These nifty pieces of engineering contain, as you’d expect, a spring. When there’s only a light weight on it, such as a bird with its light build and hollow bones evolved for flight, the spring remains contracted and the food available. When a heavy weight is placed on it, such as a squirrel, rat or curious cat, the spring is stretched and a metal door is closed, blocking off access to the seeds.

The downside is in the calibration. A certain weight is needed to push the door closed, and if larger birds are above this weight, they will be unable to feed too. This can be annoying if you enjoy feeding species such as grackles or woodpeckers, but perfect if finches or cardinals are more your thing. The construction of this particular Roamwild model means the whole thing is kept waterproof, and as it holds a decent 3lb of seed you won’t be refilling it too often - depending on how hungry your garden birds are, of course.

Siting is once again important, as squirrels will try to hang off the feeders and shake them to see if anything comes out, which prevents small birds from being able to use them, so try to suspend them high enough to keep them out of jump range. A built-in baffle helps dissuade them from climbing down to the food too.

Woodlink Absolute IIPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Woodlink)
Woodlink Absolute II

Specifications

Height: 11in
Diameter: N/A
Capacity: 12lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Large capacity
+
Metal construction
+
Locks

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
More expensive
-
Slight design flaw

Another spring-loaded model, this titan takes the concept and runs with it. Birds can feed from either side of the metal tray, and the hopper above takes up to 12lbs of seed to cope with even the hungriest flocks. 

The all-steel construction and overhanging roof mean the seed is kept dry, while a clever adjustment mechanism means you can calibrate it to close when subject to light or heavy weights, or somewhere in between, depending on the kind of birds you attract. 

Mounting is handled by a sturdy metal bracket above, and a 5ft pole with mounting hardware is also included. Once again, some thought is needed to position the feeder, possibly with a baffle on the pole, where squirrels can’t jump onto it easily. A slight flaw has been reported in the design, with enterprising squirrels able to hang from the roof to scoop up food from the feeding stations, but a coating of petroleum jelly or other slippery substance should keep them from doing this more than once.

The windows into the seed hopper are covered with thick plastic rather than glass, but the feeder is overall very well built, and the windows allow you to see when the seed needs replenishing. While more expensive than many other feeders, with this kind of build quality you can expect the feeder to last many years, so perhaps the high price is worth paying for those committed to feeding their garden birds.

Droll Yankees YF-M Yankee FlipperPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Droll Yankees)

Droll Yankees YF-M Yankee Flipper

Best electric powered squirrel proof bird feeder

Specifications

Height: 17in
Diameter: 8in
Capacity: 5lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Hilarious
+
Effective
+
Good capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Needs batteries

An elegant variation on the spring-loaded feeder, the Yankee Flipper brings an electric motor to the party and spins its base around when triggered, sending the squirrel, or other interloper, flying.

This is pretty funny, and squirrels generally come to no harm as their arboreal lifestyle means they’re pretty good at landing safely on all four paws. 

The feeder is well made, with four feeding ports and holding up to 5lbs of seed. There’s an internal baffle mechanism to keep the seed flowing freely to the birds. Construction is of metal at both top and bottom, with a UV-stabilized polycarbonate tube in between so you can see the seed level. Other models are available, including the Dipper, whose perches collapse under too much weight before raising themselves again, and the Tipper, with a plastic disk for the birds to perch on that tips sideways when something heavier comes along.

All models are battery powered, which is why there’s both an AC adapter and a rechargeable ‘powerstick’ included in the packaging. Charges can last up to eight months, depending on how persistent your local squirrels are, but having to charge it is the main downside to this model – along with the expense. You can buy five of the number one feeders on this list for the price of one Flipper, but then you wouldn’t have the entertainment of watching the pesky pests get flipped off.

Perky-Pet 336 Squirrel-Be-GonePets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Perky Pet)

Perky-Pet 336 Squirrel-Be-Gone

Best stylish squirrel proof bird feeder

Specifications

Height: 19.8in
Diameter: 7in
Capacity: 2lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Metal outside
+
Attractive
+
Multiple feeding ports

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic parts quite soft
-
Can be knocked off

A clever combination of both the caged and spring-loaded designs, this feeder uses the weight of interloping squirrels to push the cage down over the feeding ports, rendering them inoperable.

With its plastic construction keeping both the price and the weight down, the feeder relies on its metal cage to prevent strong rodent teeth from chewing their way into the seed hopper. In defensive mode, all plastic parts including the six feeding ports are covered by metal, making it impossible, or at least much less likely, for them to break in.

Unlike many of the other products on this list, some thought has been given to the aesthetics of this feeder, and the leaf pattern used on the cage means this is a pleasant feeder to watch from a window – usually the birds provide the entertainment through their beauty, but this can be nice to watch on its own, swinging in the breeze. If it remains unvisited too often, however, you should consider changing the kind of food you’re offering.

Feeders such as this need to be securely fixed to whatever you’ve chosen to hold it up with, especially as being knocked off and onto the ground often means the lid coming off and a feast for the squirrels. The supplied hanging wire allows just this. Built-in drainage helps stop the seed from becoming waterlogged, and the sturdy metal lid overhangs the sides enough to keep light rain off the food.

How to choose the best squirrel proof bird feeder

Squirrels are well adapted to the human world. No other creature, apart from perhaps racoons and brown bears, is better at exploiting our gardens to their advantage. Unlike larger creatures, however, they rarely bother our garbage, preferring instead to raid the food we put out to attract garden birds.

Squirrel proof feeders need to be three things. The first is sturdy – squirrels are rodents, and as such their chisel-like teeth grow constantly. These are the first weapons they turn against bird feeders, chewing through soft plastic parts to reach the seeds inside. Metal is the way to stop them, with caged feeders employing it to keep them from reaching the feeding stations, and spring-loaded feeders using it to cover those stations when sufficient weight is applied to the perch. 

Secondly, feeders need to be placed properly, so that squirrels cannot jump to raid them, or rappel their way there like a Navy SEAL team. Generally, squirrels can jump five feet high, seven across a gap, and will drop up to nine feet from a higher perch, so in a smaller garden keeping feeders away from fences and trees can be a problem.

Lastly, you need to consider how large your feeders are. There’s nothing you can put in your garden for birds that squirrels won’t eat, so once you’ve got a population of garden birds waiting for you to feed them, you need to keep the food coming. Putting out large amounts can lead to wastage as it gets wet and becomes moldy, especially if the local birds are slow eaters, so try to keep your seed dry indoors or under cover rather than sitting uneaten in a wet feeder. If you have a lot of birds, a larger feeder may make sense, as you’d be trudging to replenish a small one several times a day.