A Raccoon baffle on an
Advanced Pole Sytem can protect many feeders at once.
A raccoon baffle (right) is
much larger than a squirrel baffle (left).
This tree baffle is likely to be
successful due to its large size
relative to the feeder, the
fact it is hanging from a long
hook, and because it is away from the tree's trunk.
Most raccoons will avoid our WBU Hot Pepper Seed Cylinders and Hot Pepper Suet Cakes.
Stopping the Masked Bandits
Have you ever stepped outside in the morning and found your birdfeeder laying on the ground, perhaps with a squirrel sitting there eating the spilled seed? Or maybe the feeder is still hanging, but the lid is broken or the perches are missing?
Well, rarely is that squirrel to blame for this sort of mischief. Squirrels may chew on feeders (characterized by the dual lines left behind from the two front teeth gnawing), but rarely do they have the strength or dexterity required to actually lift large feeders or to pull them apart. Rather, this is more likely the work of the overnight shift, the raccoons, and the squirrel is just taking advantage of the issue.
Raccoon damage can occur any time of year, but peaks in late spring as this is the time of year when raccoon assaults on feeders become more frequent and severe. This is largely due to the fact that most female raccoons will have babies who are getting bigger by the day and require more milk from mama. She must eat a lot more to keep up and your feeder is a pretty nice buffet for her. Most raccoons have a sweet tooth, so even fruit, jelly, or nectar feeders are at risk. Soon enough those babies will leave the den and will follow their moms to the feeders.
To save your feeders and economize your birdseed budget, you have four basic options:
1. Bring Feeders in Each Night.
Since raccoons are primarily nocturnal, locking feeders in a secure garage or shed before it gets dark each night will deny them access. Of course, this is a bit tedious or may not fit your schedule, so may not work for everyone.
2. Lock 'em Down and Ration Food.
WBU stocks several devices to help keep feeders from being knocked to the ground. Solution Clips fit over the end of shepherds hooks to stop raccoons from lifting feeders off the hook. Utility Chains can help keep feeders hanging securely from tree limbs. We also have feeders (suet, peanut, fruit, etc) which can be securely screwed to a tree or fence.
Once your feeders are secure, pay close attention to how much seed or suet your birds actually eat each day, then begin rationing out just enough food each morning so the feeders will all be empty before dark. If there is no food to be had at dusk, the raccoons usually lose interest.
3. Baffle Them! - THE BEST OPTION
Adding a steel raccoon baffle to your feeder pole is the most effective way to stop raccoons. Squirrel baffles won't do the job. Raccoon baffles are much larger, a full 10" in diameter and about 2 feet tall, preventing the crafty critters from reaching over or "hugging" their way over it. (Keep in mind some raccoons may weigh in excess of 20 pounds.) Proper placement is important, so ask us for details. If you are using our modular Advanced Pole System, one baffle can protect many feeders at the same time.
If you have a small feeder hanging in a tree, a large overhead baffle may work. This is a bit trickier since feeder shape and branch layout affect success, so feel free to bring your feeder (and perhaps a photo of the tree) by so we can help you decide if a hanging baffle will work for you.
You will find baffles quickly pay for themselves in seed saved.
4. Give 'em some heat!
We stock Hot Pepper Suet Cakes, Hot Pepper Suet Cylinders, and Hot Pepper Seed & Nut Cylinders. Birds lack the heat receptors mammals have, so are not affected by the hot pepper, yet most raccoons take one bite and don't come back.
*Note - We do not recommend loose pepper powders be mixed into seed blends as these can become airborne and inhaled into the respiratory system. The pepper bound into the suet and cylinders does not create this issue.
Note: In the State of Illinois, Raccoons cannot legally be trapped and relocated. See this article for more info.
* Please note - This page is written by WBU of Springfield, Illinois. We are locally owned and operated. We specialize in local, personal service and at this time, we do not ship. For those not within driving distance, you can find a WBU near you on the store locator.
(Each WBU is independently owned and product offerings may vary. Product offerings on the wbu.com on-line store are much more limited than in our local shop and generally higher priced than our local, midwest-based pricing, so shop in person when you can. Thanks, and happy birdwatching!)