Bird Feeders and Unwanted Guests

Jill Staake

Last week’s post on bird feeders and unwanted squirrels got lots of comments (if you haven’t already dropped by to give us your thoughts, click here to do so now!). And more than one of you mentioned other unwanted guests, including deer and bears. In my own backyard, our most challenging bird-feeder battle was with… ducks.

Not your average, everyday, pretty green-headed mallards. No, in our backyard, we have muscovy ducks. More than twice the size of mallards, these non-native monsters are bird-feeder nuisances, especially at an open platform feeder. They would haul their big fat bodies up on my feeder and clean it out in a matter of minutes. Even when I took to feeding them cracked corn on the ground, they still invaded my feeder. We tried adding a roof to the feeder, but they just stood on top of that and craned their necks down to get the seed. We chased them off whenever we saw them, but that definitely wasn’t a permanent solution.

In the end, the answer was the feeder that my dad custom-designed and built for us, shown below. The clever configuration of arches and perfect roof height and slope keeps the muscovy ducks from getting any seed at all, no matter how hard they try. (Click here for more details, including video of a very confused duck.) It wasn’t an easy solution, but it’s certainly satisfying now to see songbirds enjoying seed as I intended.

Now I want to know – what unwanted guests visit your bird feeders, and how do you keep them away? Drop by the comments to tell us how you battle with bears, defend against deer, or rebuff the raccoons. I can’t wait to hear your stories!

  1. detourgirl says

    we had to stop feeding the birds in winter for 2 reasons: price of bird seed was more than my grocery bill, and we live on a farm so there is plenty for them to find in the wild (I sure miss watching them tho) and the other reason was our pair or red tailed hawks. they have been part of our lives for many years, and actually landed in my chicken yard this past summer and killed a hen. It was right in front of me! I grabbed a shotgun to scare it, the first did make it leave the dead hen (it couldn’t lift off with her), the second was to the high tree where it resides, and that big bad bird came out of the tree on a suicide flight over 200 yards straight at me and my 100 lb german shepherd service dog who was barking . I pulled the gun up, bird broke it off, but I was not about to take it in my face. I would have grieved over it had it made me shoot in self defense. So the less enticement to the yard, the better. ps. the hawk flew to opposite side of property, and from high tree cussed me out big time, as I was saying about the same thing over the fright and loss of good hen.

  2. Julie Lerner says

    Here in central Virginia I have a problem with snakes. I live right next to the woods, and they come out around my house (especially my covered front porch) when it gets warm In the spring and go after the birds sitting on eggs in nests around my porch and eaves. They’ve even gotten in some bird feeders! Short of getting some cats, any ideas of how to keep them away?

  3. Gene Clifford says

    I nightly, have upwards of 4 Deer coming to lick the seeds right out of my all metal Squirrel proof. but not Deer proof, feeder This feeder is hung from a cable suspended between two trees, and with the large amounts of snow on the ground the deer can just stand there and clean out the feeder every night.

  4. Zan Knight says

    Our biggest problem was onery squirrels that thought all bird feed was put our for them in the feeders. The was we solved this was to find and buy the old metal slinkys. We wired it to just below the feeder on a pole and then let it dangle down. This was really comical watcing the squirrels trying to climb up it only to lose ground each time as the slinky would just stretch back down to the ground!

  5. Bob says

    It seems hawks are enjoying feeding on my visitors… So far, they are taking brown headed cowbirds or an occasional blackbird. But today I watched a small hawk chasing one of the smaller birds… It did not catch it, but they come by often enough to be a problem.

    My feeders are near a live oak and by my house on predominantly open terrain.


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