Attract The Birds, Not The Critters

Attract The Birds, Not The Critters

Many of our customers want to attract birds to their property but don’t want to be feeding other critters. As anyone who has put out bird food knows, it attracts squirrels and chipmunks regularly, and occasionally raccoons, fox and rats. Even those who are willing to feed the squirrels do not want rats. Here are some strategies for brining in and supporting birds, but discouraging the critters.

Seed eating birds love sunflower seeds. This woodpecker is chowing down on the Premium blend, which is 80% shelled and 20% in-the-shell. This feeder is a Droll Yankee tray on a pole, far enough from trees and shrubs that the squirrels can’t leap to it.


Let’s take on the worst critter situation first: rats. If you want to attract birds, but avoid Ratty, here are 5 approaches that will help.

  1. Feed only sunflower seed, and use the Premium Blend. This is 80% shelled seed, and 20% in the shell. All birds eat this, so there is less waste that falls to the ground. No uneaten seed and not much shell litter means less to attract the rats.

2. Only put out the amount of seeds that the birds will consume in one day. Learn how much your bird population will finish up, and don’t add more in the evening. Although it’s good to feed birds around 2 or 3 o’clock in the winter, so that they have the calories they’ll need to stay warm all night, watch to see how much they will finish between the late afternoon and nightfall. If the birds eat all of the seed, there will be none left for Ratty.

3. Bring tube feeders that hold a large amount of seed indoors every evening. This will also prevent raccoons from pulling the feeder down in the night.

This flicker is eating the extra-fine sunflower chips from Wild Delight. This tube feeder comes indoors at night so that critters can’t get to it.

4. Another option is to forgo the seed all together and attract the birds with a suet block. Bring the suet in every night, and hang it back outdoors in the morning.

There are ways to discourage rats, squirrels and other critters, while still attracting birds to your property.
Suet is another good source of energy for bids in the winter time. This is a block of the High Energy Suet that Country Garden sells. It is pure suet, without any seeds being mixed in. Woodpeckers visit this block daily, but others such as bluebirds, nuthatches, chickadees and titmice also feed here.

5. Attract the birds with a heated birdbath instead of food. Birds need fresh water, and this can be hard to come by in the winter. Be sure to empty the bath and refresh the water every day.

A source of water in the winter is so important for birds! This birdbath has the Heated Rock to keep the water from freezing.
This flat birdbath heater is easy to take in and out when you wash and change the water in your birdbath.


            There are several ways to feed birds but not the squirrels. Here are tips for feeding birds but not “Rocky J.”

The squirrels try to get to these fine sunflower chips, but the small holes in this tube feeder prevent them from feasting.
  1. Keep any pole feeders well away from trees and shrubs, so that squirrels can’t jump from the vegetation to the feeder. Most squirrels can leap a good six feet, so position feeders ten feet away.

2. Use sunflower seed that is coated with red pepper, such as Hot Meats. Birds don’t care if the feed is spicy, but squirrels don’t care for fiery food.

Hot meats are coated with red pepper. The birds eat the seeds, but they are too spicy for squirrels.

3. If you can’t put up a pole feeder that squirrels can’t climb or leap to, use one feeders that flips squirrels off, or closes when a squirrel presses down on the edges. There are several options; come into the store to check them out! (Note: do not buy these as entertainment. Some of our customers have gotten such a kick out of seeing a squirrel fly off of the “Yankee Flipper” that they become disappointed when the animals no longer attempt to feed there. Remember that the point isn’t to watch the squirrel being twirled and tossed, it’s all about training the critter not to get on the feeder at all.)

These feeders flip the squirrels off, and they soon learn not to even try.

5. Again, you can avoid seed all together and just put out suet and fresh water.

These blocks are pure suet, without seeds or other additions. If you have raccoons nearby, however, you’ll want to bring the suet in at night, since Rocky will happily chow down on suet.

6. Use safflower seed instead of other bird food. Squirrels don’t relish the safflower as much as they do other seeds.

7. Some people buy corn for the squirrels in an attempt to lure them to another area of the yard. While this can be successful for some, it’s not always 100%. Squirrels will look at any possible food source as meant for them!

We call this red squirrel “Too Bold.” The red squirrels and chipmunks are usually scarce in the winter, but come out again when the weather warms.
This feeder is designed to close access to the seed when a squirrel sits on it.
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