Monday, January 10, 2022

Squirrel baffle

Our squirrels have figured out how to get into the bird feeder that was hanging from a branch of a tree. This was despite a series of impediments that I put in their way. It was a somewhat tolerable situation for awhile; however, when they figured out how to knock the entire feeder off of its hanger and onto the ground, it was time for a change. So we moved it to a shepherd’s hook. I thought the narrow metal pole would be hard for them to climb. NOT SO! After a day they were climbing the 1/2” pole and clearing out the bird seed. Searching for another solution, I saw baffles advertised online and that seemed to be a good solution, but I didn't want to shell out upwards to $50 on something that I was not certain would work. So to test whether this would out with our squirrels I looked into making one from materials I had on hand.

Most baffles that I saw for sale were essentially sheet metal cones at least 18" in diameter that are attached to the central pole. The conic shape keeps debris from getting trapped on top and makes it a little harder for the squirrels to get a hold of. I was able to make this one from 10” aluminum flashing left over from a roof repair.

1) Here are the two semicircles with the notch
cut in the center. Note the triangular tab
on the left hand piece made by bending
down the edge.
To form the baffles I cut semicircles 20" long x 10" wide from my stock of aluminum flashing using tin snips. I cut a a notch about 1//2" wide x 3/4" deep on the edge of each piece of the stock 10" from the end. This will fit closely to the pole. To increase rigidity of the final cone I bent a triangular tab from the center cutout to the edge, about 3/4", on each piece. (Image 1)

To join the pieces together I overlapped one seam by about a half inch and drilled holes for two small #6 machine screws and bolted them together. To get the fit just right I put a 1/2" rod into the center hole and pulled the two free edges together to form the cone. Now I could drill the final two holes along the edges of the stock to ensure a good fit. (Image 2)

2) The two pieces were joined along one edge with
 machine screws and nuts.  To ensure a proper fit,
 the holes for the second pair of screws were
 predrilled after fitting the baffle onto a 1/2" post.
3) Here's a closeup showing the two taps formed by
 folding down the edges.

Mounting the cone on the shepherds hook was easily accomplished by attaching a slightly oversized hose clamp at the desired height on the pole. The cone was mounted by removing two of the machine screws, opening the cone, then fitting it on the pole above the clamp. The screws were reattached, in place, to secure the cone. Having the cone 'float' on top of the clamp makes it more difficult for the squirrels to get hold of. (Images 3 & 4)

4) I had this hose clamp on hand that was large
enough to keep the baffle from sliding down.

Success!  Here's the final product with
birds happily at the feeder and a pair of squirrels
on the ground waiting for seeds to fall.

With the homemade baffle in place the squirrels were no longer able to get directly into the feeder.  Instead they just hung around the edge waiting to see what hit the ground.  Serendipitously I was given a nicer looking store-bought baffle at the end of last year.  I will be using that one in 2022.

This store-bought baffle has all the features of my
homemade one, except maybe the rugged good looks.