Building a squirrel bird feeder - with tips for attracting

Building a squirrel bird feeder - with tips for attracting

the essentials in brief

  • Squirrels are finding less and less food due to the deforestation.
  • The bird feeder should be safe, easily accessible and hygienic.
  • A squirrel bird feeder can be bought online or built by yourself using wooden planks and a sheet of Plexiglas.

Why a bird feeder makes sense

More and more natural habitats are falling victim to various construction projects. Large areas of mixed forests are cut down and often replaced by coniferous forests. Squirrels are increasingly struggling with food shortages. They are forced to look for alternative sources of food. This brings the rodents close to humans.

also read

  • Squirrel Kobel in the garden - tips and interesting facts
  • Feeding Squirrels - All You Need To Know
  • Squirrel in winter - hibernation with breaks

They are extremely adaptable and can also come to terms with less comfortable living conditions, provided that there is enough food. But in tidy gardens the rodents can hardly find suitable food trees. Because they take up too much space in the garden, oak, beech or walnut trees are banned from the garden. A bird feeder offers the animals an additional source of food that is not only accepted between autumn and winter.

This speaks in favor of summer feeding:

  • Pregnant and nursing mothers have a high energy requirement
  • Infants are thrown out of the nest when there is a lack of food
  • In addition to leaves and sprouts, young animals also need fruits and nuts in spring
  • Tree fruits do not ripen until late summer

A bird feeder should bring these characteristics with it

Good models are shaped so that rainwater drains off the roof and does not get into the interior. However, you cannot completely prevent moisture from building up inside. Therefore, you have to make sure that the water that has entered can escape again. A generous seat in front of the house is not only for convenience. Squirrels can look out in all directions while they are eating, giving them a better view of possible enemies.

That's what matters:

  • Ventilation : keeps feed fresh
  • Water drainage : prevents mold formation
  • Accessibility : Lid should be easy to move
  • Health : natural and harmless material
  • Safety : no sharp edges or gaps with the risk of crushing

Buy bird feeder?

There is now an unmanageable range of bird feeders on the market that try to convince with particularly low prices. Even if they appear handsome, they have rarely been tested for functionality. The first use shows that the rodents cannot access the delicacies or that the food has spoiled within a short time.

Pay attention to

Even if a house has been built with solid craftsmanship, it can hold risks for the animals. Often models are equipped with a lid that the animals have to open to eat. If a second squirrel jumps onto the bird feeder, the eating animal can be crushed. Stomata are therefore the better option. They also provide ventilation, which means that the feed does not spoil as quickly.

To protect against moisture, many models are sealed all around with strips or silicone. However, this causes moisture to accumulate in the interior, which can no longer be drawn outside. The food becomes moldy and the fungal spores settle in the cracks, so that the house quickly becomes unusable. Do not use feeding places made from particularly thick wood. The animals can no longer move lids with a wood thickness of 19 millimeters.

squirrel bird feeder

Pressure-impregnated wood ensures a long service life, but it is dangerous to the health of the squirrels. At the latest when the nuts and fruits have given off their aroma to the wood, the animals gnaw on the material and absorb the toxic substances. Conversely, the chemically impregnated wood releases its ingredients into the feed. When buying, make sure that the material is untreated.


Pressure impregnated wood

So that the wood is better protected from environmental influences, it is treated with salts and various substances such as copper, chromium, arsenic or boron. They have an insecticidal and fungicidal effect, making the wood unattractive to pests and fungi. Such treated wooden components should never come into direct contact with food or feed, as they are very harmful to health.

Models in the trade

The large online retailers and competitors Ebay and Amazon have a wide range of feeding stations that often do not meet the requirements. The Esschert Design brand offers aesthetic models, but they are not convincing in terms of quality and functionality. The eye quickly falls on the models in the local hardware store. But here too there are major differences in quality. Only a few models convince with a good price-performance ratio. Dehner's own brand stands out from the crowd.

offerPrice rangeMaterial untreatedPrivate label model
Hornbachnot a large selection20 EurosNoNo
Obidifferent models10-20 eurospartiallyNo
Stretcherdifferent designs10-20 eurosYesYes
bauhauslow product selection20-30 eurosNoNo
Food bowlnot a large selection20 EurosNoNo

Suitable dealers

In the well-known hardware store chains there are often similar models that hardly differ in processing. If you decide to buy a feeding station, you should look around in special shops. There are a number of associations and providers who specialize in protecting nature. The models offered are of high quality, are characterized by high functionality and are harmless to health.

  • Squirrel Protection eV
  • Vivara - specialist in nature protection products
  • Conservation Center

Build yourself according to the blueprint

If you want to do it yourself, you can download various building instructions as PDF files from the Internet. These kits differ in terms of material requirements and degree of difficulty. The following DIY instructions are a simple version.

Dimensions for the required components (height / length x width):

  • Dimensions for bottom parts and back wall: 27 x 14 centimeters
  • Roof plate: 22 x 14 centimeters
  • Side walls: back 27 and front 20 centimeters high, 20 centimeters wide
  • Plexiglass: 18 centimeters high and approx. 14 centimeters wide (adjust if necessary)


Draw the outlines for each component on a sturdy wooden board that should not be thicker than 19 millimeters. You can saw out the components with a jigsaw (€ 70.75 at Amazon *). Work on sharp edges and rough surfaces with sandpaper so that there is no risk of injury. The roof panel is later tilted forward on the side walls so that the rainwater can drain off better. A seat for the rodents is created on the protruding base plate.

The side walls each need a notch on the inside, which is sawn about a centimeter to the shorter edge. If you saw the groove down to the bottom, squirrels have to lift the lid and prey on the coveted delicacies. You can also leave a gap above the base plate so that the animals can access the food directly from the seat. For this variant, saw the notches up to about one centimeter above the ground.


A hinge makes it easier for you to fill and clean the bird feeder. However, the lid must not pose a risk to the animals. Leave a gap between the plexiglass and the lid so that no squirrel can get caught.


Fasten a hinge in the middle of the rear wall and on the roof so that it can later be opened up. The base plate is screwed to the rear wall, to which the side walls are then attached. The long edge of the side walls faces the rear wall. Finally, slide the plexiglass into the notches and fill it

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Feeding tips The easiest way to feed squirrels is through bird feeders that are as high up as possible so that no other animals are attracted. They should be easily accessible (no smooth walls) and with good opportunities to escape, especially from cats 🐈 Nuts and seeds can be filled in the feed boxes, preferably with a closed shell: for example, whale, hazel, stone pine or cashew nuts, chestnuts , Sunflower, pumpkin and pine nuts, beechnuts, dried rose hips, dried mountain ash, maple, hornbeam or pine seeds. No fruit and vegetables as they go moldy. Never bread and grain. Peanuts and corn only a little. Squirrels are inhabitants of coniferous forests. If you don't have any firs, pines or spruces nearby, you can collect and offer cones. But please don't scold:they crumble terribly in the process 🐿 If you have squirrels in your garden, you should start feeding them at the beginning of February. Then the first young animals are born and lactating mothers particularly need a lot of fatty food. If you want to attract squirrels, you should start feeding now, as the animals' range of motion is much smaller in winter and the animals need time to get used to the new feeding place. Please do not feed sporadically If you first feed regularly, the squirrels rely on the food source and plan their routes and also their nests (Kobel) according to the food available. If it goes away, it is difficult for them to find a new source of food. The ideal bird feeder has a light cover that is not painted or coated because the animals can then slide off.Unfortunately, the platforms at the bird feeders are often quite small and in winter you have to fit your big buttocks and big paws on them - if necessary you can screw a slightly larger board underneath. For hobbyists there are bird feeder instructions here: // Do you feed and do you regularly have squirrels visiting? # squirrel #squirrels # squirrel love #wildtierhilfe #wildtiere #animallove #tierliebe #tierhilfe # winterfeeding #squirrellovehelp / worth knowing / building instructions-futterhaus / Do you feed and do you regularly have squirrels visiting? # squirrel #squirrels # squirrel love #wildtierhilfe #wildtiere #animallove #tierliebe #tierhilfe # winterfeeding #squirrellovehelp / worth knowing / building instructions-futterhaus / Do you feed and do you regularly have squirrels visiting? # squirrel #squirrels # squirrel love #wildtierhilfe #wildtiere #animallove #tierliebe #tierhilfe # winterfeeding #squirrellove

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Material and processing tips

In principle, wood is more suitable than metal, as it is a natural product and untreated it has no impact on the environment or health. Sheet metal can be used as rain protection on the roof. Make sure to sand off sharp corners and edges. Such a rain deflector does not necessarily have to be made of sheet metal. You can also use a birch plywood multiplex board. This is waterproof, does not warp and is particularly thin.

When squirrels get their food from the feeding station by lifting the lid, be careful with safety. You can also provide the Plexiglas plate with edge protection so that the sharp edge does not cut into it. Make sure that the lid does not stay upright and thus becomes a snap trap if a curious squirrel pounces on the open feed box.

Protect from environmental influences

So that you can enjoy your self-made bird feeder for a long time, the wood should be weatherproof. You can process the material with a glaze that is harmless to humans and animals. Various oils such as linseed and olive oil or wood wax have proven to be suitable agents. If you paint it several times, the oil penetrates the wood pores and protects them from moisture penetrating. The result is a silk-matt surface on which rainwater simply rolls off.

How to apply linseed oil:

  1. Apply the first layer thinly with a sponge
  2. Let dry for at least a week at 20 degrees Celsius
  3. Apply two more coats with the appropriate drying time

Attach and secure

A safe bird feeder needs the right place in the garden so that potential predators do not pose a threat to rodents. The higher you hang the feeding station, the better the squirrels are protected. However, filling and cleaning is becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

squirrel bird feeder

Where to install

You can mount your bird feeder on a tall tree or on the balcony. Hang the structure on the main trunk of a tree so that it rests on a branch. Here the animals can flee quickly if a predator appears. A protected but easily visible place is recommended on the balcony. An unsuitable place is an open area. The shy rodents do not feel comfortable here as there are no protection options.

Squirrels live withdrawn and are becoming more and more curious due to lack of food. Careless behavior makes rodents more susceptible to predators.

Tips to attract

Squirrels sometimes need a little time before discovering the new source of food. Sprinkle some bird seed on the seat board. After a short time, birds help themselves from the lavishly filled dinner plate and show the squirrels the new source of food. Clamp a nut between the lid and the plexiglass. When the squirrel gets the nut, it understands the mobility of the hinged lid. It quickly learns how to get the coveted food. The animals quickly register whether the feed box is full. They orientate themselves with the help of their sense of smell.


The right food belongs to the bird feeder. Squirrels are omnivores. Not only do they have a vegetarian diet, they also actively hunt for animal prey. In order to ensure a varied range of food in the bird feeder, you should orientate yourself towards nature. The closer the menu is to nature, the more comfortable the animals will feel in your garden.

In the spring it is preferable to feed nuts and seeds without a shell, as the young animals cannot yet crack their shells. Unpeeled nuts are only made available in autumn. Fruit and vegetables should be served with caution, even when dried, as the feed contains water.

Spring - summerAutumn winter
Nuts and seedsBeechnuts and sunflower seedsHazelnuts, walnuts, spruce seeds, pine cones
fruitBerries, rose hipsdried bananas, apple chips, raisins
Natural foodFledglings and eggsMushrooms, buds and shoots


Only use dry food that does not release moisture. It is better to offer a little fewer nuts and refill them more often so that the feed does not spoil.

frequently asked Questions

Where can I set up my bird feeder?

If a predator comes from another direction, the animal must be able to escape quickly. Fix the bird feeder in a fork of a branch. A rough house wall is also suitable as a place for the feeding station. Squirrels can hold onto plastered surfaces well.

How high to hang?

The ideal height for a bird feeder is two meters. At this altitude, squirrels are safe from cats. If you can hang the house higher so that it is easily accessible via a ladder, then the fluffy guests are even better protected from predators.

Which food is suitable for the house?

Between spring and summer you should preferably offer peeled seeds and fruits so that the young animals can also find enough food. In autumn and winter you can feed nuts with shells such as walnuts, hazelnuts or beechnuts. Sunflower seeds, spruce seeds and pine cones enrich the food supply. Dried fruits and vegetables can contain water and should be offered on a free feeding place.

What to do if i find an injured squirrel?

A squirrel in need needs our help. Young animals in particular are helpless without their mother. However, you should not act too quickly if you find a squirrel that you think is in need of help. Observe the situation calmly in order to assess possible injuries or illnesses. Contact conservation organizations like the Nabu.