When you set up bird feeders in your yard, you’re always eager to spot all the bright little birds of your locality hovering around it, feeding on it, aren’t you? But how would you feel if some pestering rodent would ransack these feeders to fill their tummy, driving away any birds that might’ve visited the feeders in their absence? Not great, we’re sure.
Although squirrels are infamous for raiding bird feeders, there’s another, a similar-looking rodent that is quite notorious but often goes unnoticed. Yes, we’re talking about chipmunks. Chipmunks are more like the smaller cousins of the squirrels with a similar curious personality and love for nuts.
Despite all the ways these rodents are similar, they have different dwelling habits. While the squirrels jump around tree trunks and branches wildly, the chipmunks feel more at home on the ground. They usually reside in low-growing bushes and shrubs, which is why most people don’t assume them to be a threat to their bird feeders. But you never know how far these wily creatures are willing to go for food.
In this article, we will talk about how chipmunks can be problematic for your bird feeders and explore ways to keep them away.
How can chipmunks create problems for your feeder?
Before we discuss methods of getting rid of the chipmunks, wouldn’t you first want to know how their presence can affect your bird feeders? Let’s find that out right away:
Chipmunks will pillage all the bird food
When it comes to food, chipmunks are even lesser selective of what they’ll eat than their cousins. Be it fruit, veggie, seed, or nut; they will readily eat them all. In fact, unlike squirrels, chipmunks will not eat food immediately.
They’re hoarders that will stuff food into their cheeks and take it to their burrow. There, they will only eat a small part of it, saving the rest for later.
If these rodents find a way to your bird feeder, they will make as many trips as it takes them to bring all the bird food down to their personal storage. Thus, they’ll empty your feeders time and again unless you take action to ward them off.
Chipmunks can also damage the feeder
Even if you don’t mind these rodents raiding your feeders and are okay with re-filling them, there’s something else that you need to consider.
In addition to plundering all the seeds, chipmunks can also damage the feeder. Being rodents, they have an instinctive urge to chew on any tough material they can find as it keeps their teeth from growing too long. Whether your bird feeder is made of plastic or wood, chipmunks will chew through it eventually, and you’ll have to purchase a new one.
If you want to protect your bird feeder from these mischievous rodents, you’ll have to take the necessary steps for it. Several tricks and tips can help you with it, and we will discuss them in the next section.
Keeping chipmunks away from your feeder
1. Keep the area around your bird feeder clean
Chipmunks are not the rodents that you will commonly find on the trees of your backyard. These rodents are more of a borrower than a tree-dweller and prefer to build their burrows in low shrubberies. The low shrubberies keep their homes well-concealed, protecting them from any predator that might be lurking out.
If you keep the shrubs in your garden well-trimmed, it will be easier for you to spot both the chipmunks as well as their ground holes. And once their homes are exposed, the chipmunks will most likely relocate to a safer place.
You should also make sure to clean the area right beneath your feeder thoroughly for any fallen seeds. These fallen seeds are what draw the chipmunks to the feeders, and you wouldn’t want that, would you?
2. Mount your bird feeder on a metal pole with baffles
Although chipmunks are not as skilled at climbing trees as squirrels, they will manage to do it just fine with enough motivation. And trust us, your bird feeders can provide them with more than enough of it.
However, if there’s something that is difficult (even impossible) for them to climb, it is a metal pole. With its smooth surface, a thin metal pole will have nothing for the chipmunks to grab on while climbing. For more security, you can also add conical baffles both on the top and the bottom of the pole to prevent not just chipmunks but also squirrels from reaching your feeder.
Suppose you’ve bought a thin metal pole for your feeder. Could you place it anywhere in your yard? No, not really. If you want to keep chipmunks away from your feeder, placing it at an appropriate spot is equally essential. Ensure it is placed at least 7 feet away from any tree, wall, or other structures that they can climb on. Otherwise, they’ll simply jump from any of these to reach the feeder, defeating the whole purpose of the pole.
3. Coat bird food with peppers
Does purchasing and fitting a pole seem like too much work to you? Well, here’s another, much easier trick you can use to keep these critters away. All you need to do is to mix any kind of pepper with the seeds you put in the feeder.
It might come as a surprise to some of you, but chipmunks have a better sense of taste than us; bird seeds mixed with pepper will irritate their tastebuds severely, discouraging them from going after your feeders permanently (in most cases). Even the mere smell of pepper in bird food has led to chipmunks maintaining their distance in many cases.
Are you worried about how pepper will affect your avian visitors? Well, you needn’t be. Unlike the chipmunks, birds have far too few tastebuds to feel the heat of peppers and won’t mind it being mixed with their food at all.
4. Go for seeds that chipmunks do not find appealing
While chipmunks usually devour anything edible they can find, there are some seeds that even these critters find unappealing. The seeds of Safflower and African yellow daisy (Nyjer) are common examples of seeds chipmunks won’t eat, but birds will. You can easily find these seeds in a local pet store as well as online.
5. Use traps for keeping chipmunks away
One of the most old-school methods of getting rid of a critter from your house or property is trapping them and releasing them far away. If you have the time and patience for it, you can do it, too.
You can find traps for chipmunks and squirrels both in your local stores and online. And since chipmunks are too small in size, you needn’t purchase a large, expensive trap for them; even a moderately-sized trap will do.
Once you have the trap with you, all you need to do is set it up at a place they’re most likely to come; close to the feeder. Put a bait for them inside; sunflower seeds will work well, as the chipmunks love them. Now, wait for them to enter the trap, drive them to a place far away from your home, and release them there (preferably in a garden or forest).
Chipmunks are frightened of traps; if you have trapped them once, they will most likely leave your property alone in the future.
6. Get help from wildlife removal experts
If none of the steps mentioned above seem to be helping you in removing chipmunks from your yard, you can always seek professional help. If you contact a rodents removal facility, they will solve your problem without harming the critters in any way, which is exactly what you want.
7. Set up a separate feeding spot for the chipmunks
There are many bird watchers who don’t mind chipmunks in their yard but only want them to leave the feeders alone. If you’re one of those, why don’t you accommodate your furry guests at a separate feeding spot?
All you need to do is make sure that chipmunks’ feeder is placed far away from your bird feeders. This way, you can entertain them without worrying about them messing with your bird feeders or scaring the birds away.
Frequently asked questions
Can chipmunks also raid my house for seeds?
Yes, chipmunks are easily attracted to homes that have a poor storage facility for seeds. And once they find their way into your home, it will not take them long to damage your furniture by gnawing at it. If you don’t want that to happen, be careful about storing seeds properly; clean any spilled seeds right away.
Can I use certain smells to keep chipmunks away?
Most of you might already know that chipmunks have a keen sense of smell (better than our own). Using repellent smells is a safe and humane way of warding them off. Following are some of the smells you can use:
In this article, we have learned that chipmunks are the smaller cousins of squirrels that can create trouble for your bird feeders if they can access them. Not only do these critters scare away most birds, but they’re also known for hoarding the seeds and damaging the feeders by gnawing at them.
If you want to protect your feeders from these pesky rodents, there are many steps you can take for it. Some of them are easy, while the others might need a little more work. Moreover, you can also set up a different feeder for them if you don’t mind their company too much.