As I mentioned in Executive Wild Bird Suet Recipe, we have Executive Wild Birds. What?! These are wild birds that are accustomed to things just a tad upscale and wonderful. We even had to make bird feeder stands to hold these feeders! Of course, you do not need to buy feeders but we decided that our energy and time was better spent on other projects.
Here's what we considered when making our choices:
Large Capacity. It needs to have a large capacity otherwise filling feeders turns into a chore. Daily filling seems like fun at first until there are eight or more feeders to clean, fill, and trips back and forth to the feeder stand(s).
Squirrel Thwarting. The feeder needs to thwart the squirrels! It all boils down to excluding the squirrels with pressure sensitive roosts or cages, making the feeders as inaccessible with the height/length of the feeder stand, using baffles and other devices to keep the critters off the feeders from the top or bottom, and plus placing feeders so the the little hungry ones can't leap from a branch or roof onto the feeders. I skipped over feeders that require electricity or batteries as that seemed add another chore like keeping track of when I replaced the batteries.
Durable & Repairable. There are plenty of cute feeders, feeders that break easily, feeders that cannot be repaired, and feeders that will crack in just one or two seasons outside. The feeder needs to be robust and not turn into an annual expense. Yes, there are plenty of plans for making bird feeders but we decided that we would put that effort towards making nesting boxes for blue birds down the road. Have you watched squirrels chew wood and plastic to get to food?
No Retrofitting. I didn't want to spend a ton of money retrofitting our bird feeding stations with a baffle on the stand and a baffle above each feeder. Retrofitting isn't cheap either. A couple of baffles can easily cost as much as a nice feeder. Consider homemade baffles or repurposing poultry feeder baffles or sheet metal. Some folks report success with larger diameter PVC baffles. PVC baffles are also used on bird house stands to prevent predators from partaking of bird eggs or taking up residence in the bird house. Snake in bird house...not as much fun to find as a happily nesting blue bird.
Other Critters Nibbling. There are many who will contend that there isn't any way to deter the squirrels 100% and that bird feeding means some squirrel feeding. Some folks simply offer squirrels and other wild life another easy to access food option located away from the bird feeding station. We decided that we were okay if some seed dropped. Of course, it is a good practice to keep the area around a wild bird feeding station tidy.
Top 5 Squirrel-Thwarting Bird Feeders for Executive Wild Birds
We have not seen one squirrel, not one, feeding at any of these feeders. Of course, as always, your results might be different. We placed our feeders about 6'6" feet off the ground.
- Absolute Original or II. These large capacity feeders have two roost bars. Squirrels and large birds can be excluded by adjusting the weight activated perch that will close off the food port. The advantage of this feeder is that you can offer a variety of seeds, nuts, and so forth rather than just black oil sunflower seeds. Both made in USA. (Item 7536 or 7537 and 7527) [Update May 30, 2017: We have finally seen squirrels attempt to get in this one. It's spring so it was to be expected. And? Nope, no squirrels have dined from this feeder. There are some marks where chewing was attempted and quickly abandoned.]
- Squirrel Buster Plus. Folks tend to rave about this feeder. But, it comes in around $100. But, if you consider how much feed could be "lost" to other species, the cost of experimenting with other types of feeders, and what could become your general frustration...$100 starts to make sense to some of us. We were weak from two weeks on the road with our dog in a moving van. We were vulnerable. We just ordered it. It is a large capacity feeder. It's easy to clean and and fill. It does have restrictive settings so you can exclude larger birds or add the cardinal ring to suit the cardinals who prefer to eat what's right in front of their mandibles. Keep your eyes for this one on sale! I scored a second brand new Squirrel Buster Plus for less than $5! Made in China. (Item 1956)
- Droll Yankees Classic Finch Feeder. There are a ton of tube feeders! They can be super inexpensive, in fact we had a couple that lasted years in San Diego but the challenge is keeping chewing friends from chewing around the openings or the top. Nyjer isn't a seed that squirrels are really attracted to, so other than a baffle above the feeder to keep it dry we haven't done anything to keep pesky critters away. Made in the USA. (Item number TH3RP)
- Droll Yankees Black Oil Sunflower Seed Feeder. This is another tube feeder from Droll Yankees but this one is caged. It is a large capacity feeder and super easy to clean. The bonus with this feeder is that it comes with a dome cover so you don't have to buy a cover to protect the seed from the elements. It also has a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage and it is made in the USA. (Item number B7DC)
- HexiHaus. This sexy feeder keeps the squirrels out by exclusion and it works. The cage around the large capacity suet holder keeps those pesky creatures out. This suet holder is nice if you make homemade suet cakes as you can make large suet cakes and save a bit of time refilling. GeoHaus Peanut Peanut Feeder. This feeder is very similar to the HexiHaus but is a bit cheaper. Suet could certainly be offered in this feeder. Like the HexiHaus it keeps non-birds out via exclusion. Both are made in China. (HexiHaus NC002, GeoHaus NC015) [Update May, 30, 2017: I no longer recommend the GeoHaus as it's a bit more difficult to clean and the HexiHaus is fine for peanuts or suet. And the HexiHaus? I cannot rave enough about it. It is easy to clean. It comes apart easily to scrub it thoroughly. It's pretty without being too gaudy. The best, best part is that I can fit of two of my homemade suet cakes in it.]
We purchased our feeders from Duncraft for two reasons, they have a great return policy and they are super helpful if you have any questions! Per always, there are no affiliate links.
And for the ground feeding birds, I simply toss seed on the ground. Be sure to keep the area clean and don't allow old feed or kitchen scraps to hang around getting moldy. I offer washed and crushed egg shells under the feeders in addition to occasional scraps.
Be sure to keep wild bird feeders clean. Clean. Be sure to offer water too. If you see signs of disease with the wild birds consult with a local ornithologist, university extension, etc.
Happy wild bird feeding and watching!