How to Attract Birds To Your Yard (and Get Rid of Squirrels)

There’s nothing quite as peaceful as waking up to the sound of birds chirping in the morning. When the birds aren’t coming to your yard, it can feel like a bit of the morning has been taken away from you. So how do you get birds coming to (and staying in) your yard? And is there a way to keep those pesky squirrels from eating all the food that you leave out for your feathered friends? Let’s find out!

Bubbles and Drips

Attracting Birds

Birds, like all living things on earth, need water to live. And like most living things, they need to drink it from a found source. Birds are used to finding water not only by sight but by sound as well. For this reason, having a bubbling or dripping fountain or watering hole, you can help birds locate your yard through sound. They’ll recognize the sound after subsequent trips, and know that from then on, your yard is a safe place for them to go to drink.

Getting Rid of Squirrels

It’s hard to keep squirrels away from water sources. Like birds, they also need water to survive, but that doesn’t mean they should take over! Certain scents can repel squirrels that they aren’t particularly keen on, particularly spicy ones! Red pepper flakes littered around the base of your water will help, but may not deter them completely.birds on a bubbling water fountain

Food Variety

Attracting Birds

Birds love a variety of foods, and different birds are fans of different flavors. Rather than trying one at a time, give the birds a variety of food to choose from, you might be surprised with how many birds you see coming to feast in your yard!

Foods you can try:

  • Black-oil Sunflower Seed – The most common flavor of bird seed for a reason, these sunflower seeds are meatier and more nutrition than their striped counterparts. Their thin shells are easy to crack, making them ideal for birds to munch on, and their loaded nutritional values mean that each seed gives more calories and nutritional content per bite!
  • Thistle or Nyjer – These seeds look like tiny grains of rice, and are greatly desired by finches for their high protein and fatty content. This seed can be expensive, so make sure you have special thistle feeders so that finches can always find their favorite food!
  • Seed Mixes – These feeds are a mix of common seeds and a high quantity of millet. They are best spread on platforms and the ground, as feeder birds generally don’t like millet, and ground feeding birds won’t typically eat from a feeder to get at it.
  • Suet – This is, simply put, rendered fat. That may sound unappetizing, but fat plays a major role in both human and avian diets. Today’s suet is a combination of rendered fat, seeds, and insects, meaning that a bird’s diet is supplemented year-round with whatever it may be lacking!
  • Nectar – Certain birds, such as hummingbirds, are nectar lovers. Having a nectar feeder handy will keep these little guys coming back time and time again!

Getting Rid of Squirrels

Scoles blazin hot bird seedquirrels are mammals, and as such, they respond negatively to a chemical called capsaicin. You might recognize this as the chemical that gives spicy peppers their fiery flavor. Squirrels react to this chemical the same way humans do, by feeling that uncomfortable spicy burn from a nice hot chili pepper. Birds, on the other hand, don’t feel the spice the same way mammals do and have no issues gobbling up the tasty snack!

A great example of this is COLE’S BLAZING HOT BLEND. This delicious snack is a bird favorite, but squirrels hate it! Pick some up at your local Koopman Lumber and try it – it really works!

Note: This does not, as far as studies have shown, cause any long-lasting harm to our furry friends. The discomfort passes relatively quickly, and the squirrels quickly learn not to eat that food. We know many people like squirrels, and would not promote causing them any major or lasting harm! We just want them to stop eating the birds’ food all the time!

Leave Food on the Ground

bird eating food left on the ground

Attracting Birds

There are plenty of birds who are more inclined to graze on the ground than they ever will be to eat from a feeder. These birds love it when the seed is spread out for them in a safe area in the yard. You’ll see plenty of robins, threshers, and towhees scavenging below feeders, and picking through thin leaf piles for insects. A little seed here and there can go a long way to securing these birds as regular visitors to your yard!

Getting Rid of Squirrels

Using the same seed mentioned above is a quick and easy way to eliminate pesky squirrels feeding where your birds feed. You can also leave them some food that is well removed from where the birds eat and attempt to train them to eat away from the birds.

Stage the Area

Staging a bird feeder in your yard

Attracting Birds

Birds are skittish and very particular about where and when they feed. You will often notice them staking the area out to ensure everything is safe before flying to a feeder and flying back out. To help your feathered friends find their new restaurant of choice, put the feeder somewhere that can easily be seen and reached from nearby shrubs and tree branches. Make sure that the birds have a clear line of sight to any potential threats, such as cats who might be skulking in nearby bushes. Additionally, 5-10 feet of space to give them warning of an impending cat attack should be enough to ensure your new bird friends survive even the most well-laid cat trap. Having the feeder near higher shrubs or lower tree branches also gives the birds an exit strategy, which they can use at the first sign of danger.

Getting Rid of Squirrels

Birds have the advantage of being able to fly wherever they want. Squirrels, on the other hand, have to climb up or jump to wherever the food is. Make sure the feeders aren’t easily jumped to and use a squirrel proof feeder to help keep these pesky critters away.

Wrap Up

With these tips, your avian fellows should be dining at your backyard soon! Don’t be discouraged if birds don’t immediately flock to your house, it takes a little time for them to trust a new eating place. Once they like it, though, they’ll happily tell all of their friends and your yard will be the talk of the town!

If you have and questions, concerns, or comments, please let us know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!