Have you recently noticed that the seeds from your bird feeder are mysteriously disappearing overnight? Could it be the work of the notorious masked bandits? Yes, we’re talking about the raccoons.
Although raccoons primarily indulge in a carnivorous diet, these mammals are pretty flexible about food. They will not turn down anything edible they can find, be it meat, fruits, seeds, or nuts. They’re not only crafty but also good at climbing as well as jumping. So, if someone has been raiding your bird feeders, it could undoubtedly be them.
If you’ve got a raccoon situation at your hands and are confused about how to deal with it, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This article will talk about how you can ward off raccoons, both from your feeders as well as from your yard.
8 Ways to keep raccoons away from your feeder
Here are a few useful ways that can keep raccoons away from your bird feeders:
Place your feeder at a safe location (where raccoons can’t reach)
If the raccoons have been wreaking havoc in your bird feeder, the first thing you need to do is ensure that your feeder’s placement is right. Most birdwatchers usually hang their feeders from tree branches or other structures in their backyard, which seems reasonable.
However, the raccoons happen to be great climbers and will have no trouble climbing atop a tree to reach your feeder. They’re even capable of jumping fairly long distances with ease. But if you cannot hang your feeder from trees or other hangable structures, where will you place them? Well, we’ve got an idea for you.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide about hanging up your feeder in a spot safe from raccoons:
Step 1: Take a thin but sturdy wire (at least 10-12 feet long) and tie both its ends to the branches of two trees (or any other structure that can support it).
Step 2: Hang your feeder right in the middle of the wire in such a way that it’s at least 5 feet away from both ends.
Step 3: Hang 2-3 soda bottles on each side of the wire. It will not only keep raccoons away but will also prevent squirrels from walking on the wire.
Get a pole-mounted bird feeder
A pole-mounted bird feeder is a better alternative than feeders hung on trees since the former is difficult for the pesky critters to climb on. However, if the raccoons are still finding a way to get atop the feeder, here are a few tricks that will make the climb even more problematic for them:
- Find a pipe that has a smooth outer surface and use it to cover the pole. The pipe needn’t cover the entire length of the pole; even a small portion would do. Just make sure that the pipe doesn’t fit the pole too snugly and has a little room to move around freely. The next time a raccoon tries to climb up the pole, the constant movement of the pipe will restrict them from moving forward. If you have a slinky at home that you don’t use anymore, you can use that instead of a pipe, too.
- Although squirrel-baffles are designed to keep squirrels from climbing on the pole-mounted bird feeders, if you can buy a large enough baffle, it can protect your feeder from raccoons as well. The ideal measurement of a raccoon-resistant baffle should be about 24 inches in length and 8 inches in width.
Get a caged bird feeder
Have you ever seen a caged bird feeder? These feeders are very similar to the cage pet birds are usually kept in. They’re often covered with mesh on the outside. The mesh gaps are large enough for their beaks to get through but not enough for your backyard critters to access the seeds.
We understand that purchasing a new feeder might seem an unnecessary expense to many, but it would be worth it in the long run. A caged feeder will not only be safe from the raccoons but also from all the other critters that might find their way into your yards, such as chipmunks, squirrels, and cats.
Night-time sprinklers might work
Do you have sprinklers in your yard? If you do, we have a great idea of how you can use them as a tool to scare the raccoons away. Raccoons are nocturnal mammals that are active during the nighttime. So, if these critters were to come to the yard, hoping to get to the feeders, most probably it would be at night.
If you set up a timer for your sprinkler to come on at night, the sudden sprinkling water from them will certainly scare away the raccoons for good.
Avoid completely filling up the feeders
Do all of the above steps seem to be too much work for you? Don’t worry; there are other, simpler ways to keep your bird feeders safe from raccoons as well.
The first and easiest thing you could do is to avoid filling up the feeders. Putting out too many seeds in the feeder might be an invitation to the raccoons. If you’ve had a bird feeder for a long time, you might have a clear idea of how many seeds the birds would eat in a single day. You can use this knowledge to add and refill seeds in the feeders daily instead of stacking them up at once.
If you do this, your feeder would be nearly empty by the evening. And raccoons, being nocturnal creatures, wouldn’t find much for themselves when they raid the feed at night. If this continues to happen every day, these critters will probably stop coming after 4-5 days.
Clean up after the birds
For all their attractive appearance and melodic songs, birds are infamous for their messy feeding habits. When they’re feeding on your feeder, they usually end up dropping more seeds on the ground than into their mouths.
You might not know this, but the seeds spilled around by your avian visitors are often what attracts critters like raccoons to your yard. And while you cannot teach the birdies table manners, what you can do is clean up after them regularly to make sure no seeds remain on the ground.
When cleaning up after the birds, pay close attention to the area right under their feeder, where most of the seeds are spilled. To make the task easier, you can always place a tray right beneath the feeder during the daytime. With most of the fallen seeds being collected in the tray, cleaning the rest of the area wouldn’t take as much time or effort.
Take the feeder down during night time
Since we’ve already established that raccoons will try to raid your feeders only at night, it would be a good idea to take your feeder down at night. It will keep your feeder safe not only from raccoons but from all the other nocturnal creatures that might stumble into your yard.
Get professional help
You have to agree that if raccoons are frequenting in your yard, it can be dangerous for your family, as well. These mammals can transmit several severe diseases. And although they don’t generally attack humans, there have been incidents that might suggest otherwise.
Therefore, for the safety of your feeder as well as your family, you must get professional help to draw these critters away for good.
Have a look at this interesting video where a raccoon feeds on a bird feeder:
If only he wasn’t wearing that mask, we could find out who this thief is and arrest him! 😉
How can you find out if a raccoon has been frequenting in your yard?
Raccoons are nocturnal in nature, which means spotting them in your yard during the daytime is very unlikely.
Unless you’re willing to sit around waiting for them after dark, you might have to rely on other signs left behind by them in your yards, such as their footprints or poop. Raccoon’s poop is dark in color, has a tubular structure, and ranges between 2-3 inches in size.
Can you use smell to deter the raccoons?
Yes. Raccoons have a strong sense of smell, which is how they often look for food. If you want to repel them, using the scent of peppermint oil, garlic, onion, pepper, and Epsom salt in your garden can do wonders.
If none of these seem to work, you can also find some high-quality raccoon-repellent sprays in any local store or online, which are known to be more efficient.
Can you grease the pole to prevent raccoons from climbing on it?
No, you shouldn’t. While the grease on the pole might help in keeping the raccoons away, it can also be dangerous for the birds that visit your yard.
If the grease gets coated on their feathers, preening it out would be very difficult for them. They will have trouble flying properly with greased feathers and will become an easy target for the predators.
In this article, we have learned that raccoons can raid your bird feeders during nighttime, looking for food. These mammals are not only problematic for your feeders but can also spread many communicative diseases in your yard. There are many safety measures you can take to keep them away from your feeders. And if none of them seem to be working, you can always get an expert’s help.