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Updated: 1 Jun 2022

Best squirrel-proof bird feeders

Find the best bird feeder that will attract birds while also distracting the attention of determined squirrels
Jade Harding

Feeding birds remains a popular pastime, with many gardeners topping up bird feeders all throughout the year.

But it’s not just the birds that love the food. Squirrels will also want to raid the bird feeder and often break them in the process.

Bird feeders designed to keep out squirrels either enclose the feed tube in a cage, with bars spaced to allow small birds in and keep squirrels out, or they use springs to close off access to the food when something the weight of a squirrel lands on the feeder, yet allow the lighter birds to feed.

We tested 12 squirrel-proof bird feeders – find out the results in the table below.  

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Best squirrel-proof bird feeders

Only logged-in Which? members can access our recommendations below. If you’re not already a member, join Which? to get instant access to all our reviews.

Bird feederBird appealSquirrel proofEase of refillingEase of cleaningOverall ease of useOverall score
Long-standing Best Buy This feeder relies on a spring mechanism that’s triggered shut when a squirrel tries to feed from one of the openings. It’s been a Best Buy since 2008, and it’s still the pick of the bunch. It’s a sturdy bird feeder that was popular with birds and received around 300 visits from five species, including many types of finch, as well as various tits, robins, house sparrows and nuthatches. The feeder was easy to set up and clean, but a bit fiddly to fill. There are a range of sizes to choose from – the Classic holds 989g of seeds.
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Bird feederBird appealSquirrel proofEase of refillingEase of cleaningOverall ease of useOverall score
Robust and easy to fill This has a very robust and spacious cage design with a tube to hold the feed. More than 400 bird visits were recorded, and four species were observed – mostly tits, but also robins. This feeder is easy to set up and fill. No squirrels were observed attacking this feeder during the test, so we can’t be 100% sure it’s squirrel-proof. However, the cage is made from very strong wire that makes it unlikely that any squirrel could have squeezed through to gnaw at the central tube to access the bird food. It holds 549g of seeds.
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Table notes: The more stars the better. Our prices are based on purchase prices in summer 2020 from garden centres or online from major suppliers and may vary, depending on the retailer. Score based on effectiveness against squirrels (50%), bird appeal (30%) and ease of use (20%).

Best products to stop squirrels

Only logged-in Which? members can access our recommendations below. If you’re not already a member, join Which? to get instant access to all our reviews.

Product nameWhat we foundPriceWhere to buy
This simple plastic dome can be installed over or under a feeder or feeding station, creating a slippery obstacle that squirrels can’t get past. It’s easy to fit and simple to wipe clean. The clear dome doesn’t discourage the birds like small-caged feeders can. But it will only deter mammals; birds such as magpies and jackdaws will still be able to raid your feeder.

This battery-powered gadget works by attaching to the top of the bird feeder and spinning around whenever something heavy lands on it. This has the benefit of spinning off any raiders, such as large birds – for example magpies, jackdaws and rooks – and other pests, including rats. It will fit most hanging feeders.

Key things you need to know about squirrels

Filling bird feeder

The grey squirrel was introduced into the UK from North America in the 19th century and it displaced the smaller native red squirrel, which is now only found in a few isolated areas. 

The natural diet of a grey squirrel consists of nuts, seeds and fruits, although they also eat bird eggs. They are at home in parks, woods, and gardens with trees and shrubs.

Raiding bird tables for food has become common behaviour. Their antics can be amusing as they’re very agile and determined, but they can get through vast quantities of seed and scare off garden birds, sometimes damaging the feeders too.

Red squirrels are a protected species and it’s estimated that there are only 140,000 left in Britain, with just 15,000 left in England.

Grey squirrels have a population of more than 2.5 million. They are sometimes controlled in commercial forestry and to keep them out of areas where red squirrels still thrive.

It’s legal to control grey squirrels at home, but it’s best done by a pest-control company. It’s illegal to release trapped squirrels.

If you want to keep the squirrels in your garden fed but don't want to be overrun with weeds, here's our best no-grow bird seed

Keeping out other pests

Although squirrels are the wiliest, most persistent bird-food thieves, large birds, rats, mice and even deer will take food if they can reach it. The easiest way to prevent deer from taking bird seed is to place the feeder out of their reach, as they’re unlikely to rear up to access the food. 

Rats move quickly and are excellent climbers, so preventing them from taking food is very difficult. The best recourse is to only use hanging feeders, positioning them away from overhanging branches, fences or walls. Catch any seeds that drop from the feeders by placing a bucket underneath, then dispose of this at the end of each day so there’s no food left overnight to attract them.

What to look for in a squirrel-proof bird feeder

  • Strong cage Squirrels will gnaw through thin wire, and a weak cage will also allow young animals to squeeze into the cage and possibly get trapped. 
  • Metal fittings Look for metal fittings and avoid plastic, which squirrels can gnaw through swiftly.
  • Large cage A large cage encourages the birds to visit. 
  • Easy to clean A central tube that can be removed or a simple feeder with few nooks and crannies will be easy to clean and won’t harbour diseases that could affect birds.

Why Which? squirrel-proof bird feeder reviews are better

Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, so you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about a product.

We selected 12 different bird feeders designed for holding seed that also claimed to keep out squirrels. 

  • We put up each bird feeder in a rural garden in the West Midlands for three weeks in winter.
  • Twice a week, we recorded the bird species that visited each feeder, and the total number of individual bird visits. 
  • Each week the feeders were moved to another location in the garden. 
  • A note was kept of any attempts by squirrels to feed and whether they were successful. There wasn’t as much squirrel activity as anticipated, so we’ve assumed that any feeder that wasn’t broken into or used by the squirrels was at least investigated by them for access. We haven’t marked them down and we have relied on expert opinion.

We also tested them for:

  • Seed capacity The amount of seed the feeder could hold and how often it needed refilling.
  • Ease of use How simple it was to assemble and fill up the feeder, and how easy it was to clean.

See what other gardening wildlife products we test.