Well, you’ve possibly chosen the best bird feeder location to view birds from your window, and now it’s time to protect your feeder from “masked bandits”. Read our guide to find out, how to choose or even build your own DIY racoon proof bird feeder. We’ll discuss ready to use feeders, raccoon baffles, methods of mounting and special products that contain capsaicin, which is safe for birds but unpleasant for raccoons and squirrels.
Raccoon baffles for bird feeders
Most common method to protect a feeder from raccoons is using a baffle. It is a contraption that stops animals from climbing. The baffle also prevents squirrels from stealing the birdseed from the ground.
The most popular form is a cone similar to the one worn around the dog’s neck after surgery. If the pole is long enough, it is very effective against squirrels. But raccoons defeat them in most cases – even 22 inches bowl baffle is not enough.
Of course, you can try to hang your feeder on a wire, or very thin pole, but no one is immune from meeting a raccoon with the acrobatic skills necessary to access even these feeders.
Torpedo baffles, plastic trays or short stove pipe work also work great against squirrels. However, raccoons are very agile and smart, so you can often meet a cunning coon who figured out how to steal bird food.
The only working ready-to-use solution in my experience is a baffle for bird poles is build as a hollow cylinder that is free to sway to make climbing difficult. But you should choose a large one, at least 24 inch long and 8 inch wide. Such a device mount on the pole about 4 to 4.5 ft off of the ground to the baffle top effectively blocks raccoons. Adjustable mounting clamp helps to set the desired height.
Cages and weighted hoppers
Wrapping the feeder with a metal mesh is one of the first thoughts that visit you after robbing the feeder by a raccoon. The size of holes should allow birds to get through, and the radius of the net should be greater than the length of the animal’s leg.
But in practice this solution works only against squirrels. To protect seeds from coons, you need really large cage. And keep in mind that wire fences make it easier to climb into a comfortable position. Plus, they make cleaning the feeder much more difficult.
Weighted hoppers work better. These feeders have covers that close seed ports under a weight of the coon or a squirrel. Usually the hoppers are made of steel and have a removable roof for easy filling. My advice is to hang them, so when the coon climb onto it, the feeder tips, which makes it more difficult to reach into the feeder. It also swings back and forth and the coon must grab onto the front, which causes the cover to close over the seeds.
How to build a DIY Raccoon Proof Bird Feeder
A raccoon baffle may cost up to $60, but if you are handy you could build your own out of stove pipe. Personally, I prefer the simple exclusion techniques to keep the mammals off my feeders. All these powered motor devices spinning the feeder perches when the excessive weight detected, make me a little frightened 😊.
The most effective choice is a six- or seven-foot pole with arms to hang feeders. Use a stove pipe as a raccoon baffle. The top of the stove should be five feet or more above the ground to prevent animals from leaping above it to the pole. The platform feeder may sit on the stove, above the platform is you can place tray or tube feeder. All feeders must be cleaned regularly for the health of the birds.
In this way, all you need is one stovepipe 6-8” diameter at least 24” long. The pipe usually comes in black, if you need another color, buy galvanized duct pipe and paint it. To place the DIY racoon baffle on the pole you may use the end cap that fits on stovepipe. Hose clamp that to fit around feeder pole well help to set needed height.
- So drill a hole in the center of the cup with a big drill bit or hole saw.
- Insert the pipe firmly into the end cap, fix it with screws.
- You can place the baffle on the pole in at least two poles.
- First way is to, attach the hooks to the cover and then hang the DIY baffle to other hooks on the pole.
- The second one is to use hose clamp and slip the baffle over the Pole
This construction is similar to torpedo baffle, described above. If you can find 24″ long one, just buy it. Unlike small squirrel devices, big DIY or factory made baffles really work. The squirrels crawl up inside the stove, and the raccoons unsuccessfully try climb around it. In both cases the feeder is absolutely unreachable.
Raccoons and suet feeders
Suet is an energy dense food that is readily eaten not only by birds, but also by raccoons and squirrels. Thus, the feeder must have a sufficient toughness reserve and a complex lock. Otherwise, a squirrel, and even more so a raccoon will be able to pull the metal grate loose on one side or open the lid.
Cedar cuet upside-down feeders are good choice, they naturally eliminate nuisance birds grackles that are not comfortable hanging upside-down. You just need to hang the feeder firmly on a branch or pole. A coon can’t get suet from a sturdy feeder, especially when he hangs upside down. But it will definitely try to move the feeder away. For more safety, hang suet feeder to pole protected with raccoon torpedoes, plastic pipes or baffles.
Spicy bird seed mixes
For most songbirds hot pepper is safe and they can’t taste it. For example, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture, bird pepper (like any other hot pepper) is harmless to birds. But raccoons and other mammals will avoid your bird feeder after tasting burning-hot food a few times. Hot peppers have varying levels of capsaicinoids which make them hot. But you can effectively use what you have. For instance, cayenne pepper is also commonly used as a raccoon deterrent, and you can make your own hot mix.
All you need is to sprinkle dried pepper flakes onto seed and mix it. Optionally, spray the seed with an aerosol oil before applying the pepper. It will prevent blowing away ground pepper by wind. When using ground pepper, avoid breathing in the powder and wash your hands immediately afterward.