Pros: Surface deters squirrels
Cons: Needs to be mounted higher than manufacturer's instructions
Squirrel, squirrel go away, come again another day. (Please!) Some people like squirrels and if given the opportunity to separate them permanently from the bird feeder I could perceive them as entertaining and we could co-exist. Watching them chatting with another while sitting on a huge live oak branch just outside my kitchen window is a delightful way to spend 20 minutes. Watching them go from that branch with a master plan on how to raid your five-station bird feeder in less than five minutes is frustrating.
Sure, many stores carry baffles in the shape of cones or torpedoes (long tubes) designed to discourage these talented raiders. I have one, actually I have two but the cone-shaped one has long been dubbed “worthless” in my household. The other had been performing admirably until we met the Texas squirrels. My expectations were high for the Squirrel Baffle, unfortunately, the squirrels seem to be able to leap higher than my expectations.
Shaped like a very long can this hangs suspended around a 1 5/8 inch pole or a 1 1/8 inch square post. Installation is simple. My feeding station comes in sections and I simply secure the bracket on the pole at the appropriate height and slip the baffle down over it so it rests on the bracket. Finish assembling the station with any remaining pole sections, hang your feeders and sit back to enjoy backyard birding. The fit is wobbly, which is part of the design to confuse the squirrels. (Confusing squirrels doesn’t last long. They are difficult to outwit as most gardeners and birders know.) The baffle is 14 inches high with a diameter of six inches. It has a slick black surface and is made of powder-coated steel. Mine has been outside for several years in a harsh Illinois climate and it shows no sign of rust (or chew marks).
Place the bracket at least four feet off the ground and the pole at least ten feet from the nearest structure (this includes fences, tree branches, picnic tables, chairs, etc). Four feet is not practical if you’re hoping to deter squirrels. The top is four feet above the ground and some squirrels readily make monumental leaps for a few cups of sunflower seeds. Staff at my local wild birds store recommend placing this so the bracket, therefore the top, is at least six feet above the ground.
The squirrels couldn’t get past the baffle. They’d climb up the post and simply look baffled and frustrated with tasty snacks only a sniff, and a squirrel length, away. All was well for several years in Illinois until a heavy snow combined with a successful growing season. The snow weighed down the longer branches of our white pine, which allowed the squirrels to gleefully leap on to the top of the bird feeder. It was all over but the shouting and they continued to feast. Once they knew they could they just kept extending their leap, even after the snow melted and after I pruned that tree back.
Now we’re in another squirrel land, Houston, and there are no trees close enough to be considered launch pads. I placed the feeding station far from the privacy fence and porch. After filling the feeder with my favorite bird seeds I snuggled back with great expectations for a long winter of watching new birds at the station. A short time later that first day four feeders were wrapped in full-length squirrel coats. Naturally I enlisted canine assistance and we exploded out of the house yelling and barking hoping to scare the poop out of those squirrels. As expected, they bolted, but within 30 minutes they were back. This time I observed before acting hastily and learned they can really leap for high places. I moved the baffle up as high as possible. They climbed up the pole to the baffle’s base, looked around and ran down. Good, I thought, they are not climbing on the baffle. While down on the ground they set their focus on the lowest bird feeder (about 5 ½ feet high) and with determination one jumped straight up landing on the edges, dangled a few moments and with super squirrel strength pulled itself over the tray and began chewing.
The feeders are all higher now. The baffle is higher and so far all I’ve seen on the feeders have been finches, warblers, and cardinals. My fingers are crossed. I'm content to let them join other ground feeders who benefit from food kicked out from above. It appears you might need to adjust the height of the baffle as well as the lower level of the bird feeders when faced with high-flying squirrels. It’s easy to understand why some people just quit feeding birds and give in to the squirrels.
Overall I’m satisfied with the Squirrel Baffle. If you experience similar problems with your own squirrel/bird feeder battle, try raising the baffle. It won’t work if placed only four feet above the ground and might not work at six. The baffle's upper surface also provides a perch for birds waiting their turn at the station on a busy day. My observations have shown squirrels will be deterred by the baffle because they can’t climb on it, but a squirrel’s jumping capability is Herculean.
The image associated with this review includes a raccoon baffle that fits on a much larger post. I'm not familiar with that product.