You love watching the birds that visit your backyard, and you’ve put out a bird feeder to attract even more feathered friends. But as much as you enjoy the birds, there’s another creature that’s been ruining the party: chipmunks. These little critters are cute, but they can be a nuisance when it comes to your bird feeder. They’re quick and agile, and they seem to always find a way to get to the food before the birds do. If you’re tired of constantly refilling your bird feeder only to have the seed gobbled up by chipmunks, don’t worry – there are steps you can take to keep these critters at bay.
Why Are Chipmunks Attracted to Bird Feeders?
Before we delve into how to keep chipmunks off your bird feeder, it’s important to understand why they’re attracted to it in the first place. Chipmunks are opportunistic eaters, meaning they’ll eat just about anything they can get their paws on. This includes seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects. Bird feeders provide an easy source of food for chipmunks, especially if they’re stocked with seeds and nuts that these critters find appealing.
Additionally, chipmunks are constantly on the lookout for food to store for the winter. If they find a reliable source of food, they’ll keep coming back for more. This means that if you have a bird feeder that’s constantly stocked with food, chipmunks will see it as a never-ending buffet and keep coming back for more.
How to Keep Chipmunks Off Bird Feeder
Now that we understand why chipmunks are attracted to bird feeders, let’s look at some practical ways to keep them away.
1. Use a Chipmunk-Proof Feeder
One of the most effective ways to keep chipmunks off your bird feeder is to use a feeder that’s specifically designed to keep them out. These feeders often have features like weight-activated closures or spiral wire barriers that make it difficult for chipmunks to access the food. Look for a feeder that’s advertised as “chipmunk-proof” or “squirrel-proof,” as these critters are similar in size and behavior.
2. Use a Feeder with a Dome or Cage
Another option is to use a bird feeder with a dome or cage around it. This creates a physical barrier that chipmunks can’t easily get through, while still allowing small birds to access the food. Make sure the holes in the cage or dome are small enough to keep chipmunks out, but large enough for your desired bird species to fit through.
3. Place the Feeder Out of Reach
Chipmunks are agile climbers, so if your feeder is within easy reach, they’ll find a way to get to it. To keep chipmunks at bay, place your feeder on a pole or hanging hook that’s at least six feet off the ground. This will make it more difficult for chipmunks to access the food, as they’ll have to jump or climb to get to it.
4. Use a Feeder with a Sloped Roof
If you prefer a ground-level feeder, you can still make it more difficult for chipmunks to access the food by using a feeder with a sloped roof. The slope will make it harder for chipmunks to balance and reach the seed, and the overhang will provide some shelter for the birds.
5. Don’t Overfill the Feeder
While it’s important to keep your bird feeder stocked with food, it’s also important not to overfill it. Chipmunks are attracted to seeds and nuts, and if there’s an excess of these foods in the feeder, they’ll be more likely to visit. By only filling the feeder to capacity, you’ll be less likely to attract chipmunks and other pests. Additionally, by not overfilling the feeder, you’ll be able to monitor how much food the birds are eating and refill as needed. This will not only help keep chipmunks at bay, but it will also ensure that your feathered friends are getting the nourishment they need.
6. Use a Feeder with a Tray
Another option is to use a bird feeder with a tray or platform. This allows small birds to perch and eat, while making it more difficult for chipmunks to access the seed. Just be sure to regularly clean the tray to prevent mold and bacteria from growing.
7. Keep Your Bird Feeder Clean
In addition to using a chipmunk-proof feeder or one with a tray, it’s important to keep your bird feeder clean to discourage chipmunks from coming back. Seed that has been sitting in the feeder for a long time can become moldy and unappealing to both birds and chipmunks. To keep your bird feeder clean, simply empty out any old seed and give the feeder a good scrub with a mild soap and water solution.
8. Don’t Offer Other Food Sources
While it’s important to provide food for the birds in your backyard, it’s also important to be mindful of the other food sources you might be offering. If you have a compost pile or fruit trees, these can be attractive to chipmunks and other critters. To keep chipmunks away from your bird feeder, try to limit their access to these other food sources as much as possible.
9. Use a Motion-Activated Sprinkler
If you have a particularly persistent chipmunk problem, you might want to consider using a motion-activated sprinkler. These devices are triggered by movement, and when they sense something approaching the feeder, they’ll unleash a burst of water to scare the critter away. Just be sure to position the sprinkler in a way that won’t deter the birds from using the feeder.
10. Use a Chipmunk Repellent
As a last resort, you can try using a chipmunk repellent to keep these critters away from your bird feeder. These repellents are usually made from natural ingredients like peppermint oil or ammonia, and they’re designed to deter chipmunks without harming them. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the label, and reapply the repellent as needed to maintain its effectiveness.
While it might take a little bit of trial and error to find the solution that works best for your yard, with a bit of patience and persistence, you can keep chipmunks off your bird feeder and enjoy the birds in peace. Whether you choose a chipmunk-proof feeder, a feeder with a tray, or one of the other options listed above, there’s a solution out there that will work for you. Happy birdwatching!