Feeding birds and feeding squirrels

Good morning everyone.

Finally back online having survived the move to our new home and glad to learn that---despite warnings that the higher the altitude, the lower the biodiversity level---we have as our neighbours many of the birds we left behind in the relative lowlands. A female Great Spotted Woodpecker frequents the (large) garden and Green Woodpeckers and Black Woodpeckers call from the forest behind. Great, Blue, and Willow/Marsh (can't tell which yet) tits are daily visitors, as are Chaffinches and Greenfinches. We have to be careful not to step on the Black Redstarts, which also spend the night on the stone lintels of our windows, and while the first Swift slithering under the tiles sent me up to the attic, that's now a regular occurrence (the Swifts, not the attic-bound dash) so perhaps they're breeding up there.

In the valley, 'we have' both Black and Red Kites, and have seen Sparrowhawks and Common Kestrels from the garden, the only raptors we've left behind us being (for the time being) Honey Buzzards and Peregrines. Although we were very happy to learn that the Peregrine nest we have been observing for months was a success and yielded three healthy young ones, who are currently testing their wings. Finally, one of 'our' 50 or so nesting boxes in the vineyards has produced nine (now ringed) Wrynecks; a much better year apparently than last year.

Our drive over the closest pass (at around 1,500m) brings us tons of chats and pippits, with deer and hare in the forests.

Along with all of the above, a pair of Red Squirrels---the subject of my question today---are daily visitors to the garden. We would like to feed them, but would also like to feed the birds without allowing the squirrels to empty whole feeders in minutes.

Any advice on feeding Red Squirrels and birds side-by-side would be helpful, particularly advice on specific feeders. For those who haven't come across me before, we're in Switzerland, so we'd be looking for an organisation/company (like NHBS for example) that ships abroad. And---based on our understanding that what mankind's doing to the natural and the built environment has a significant detrimental effect on bird life---we feed all year round (but avoid, at the appropriate times, foods that are dangerous to fledglings).

All the best -


  • My mother always told me Greenlady.

    I pay back my dues with winter mornings spent breaking ice with an ice pick while wearing goggles. Etc.

    I'm hoping to break 'karma-even' at some point...
  • I have been visiting the Isle of Wight where most people seem to use the little box feeders with a clear front so the red squirrels can see what's inside, and a hinged lid which they soon learn to open.  At the nature reserve hide they use these plus "squirrel proof" hanging feeders and it seems to work.  Amazon sell them, or it doesn't look too difficult to make yourself


  • Super! Thank you Greenlady. I'm (we're) somewhat anti-Amazon, but now have a cellar full of tools. Interesting the clear perspex tops...
  • Wish you happy times in your new abode Dave, sounds pretty idyllic ... except for the ice-breaking of course!
    Have you considered using Amazon for your gear, am sure they have access to some Huskies & sleds for out of the way places! Lol


     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • Afternoon Wendy, and thank you. Huskies would have a terrible time in the Amazon; much too hot.

    We try not to (company) Amazon, for various ethical reasons (although others could argue otherwise).

    And like most out of the way places (we were in the Black Forest last year) I'm fully expecting them to be ultra-well equiped here. No on-street parking during winter, or they'll just plough your car into a ditch. And then fine you. And then fine you again for good measure. It's the Swiss way.
  • I mentioned Amazon as being likely to deliver anywhere, but if you Google "squirrel feeder" quite a few companies come up, and also some DI Y instructions.
  • Thank you Greenlady (I don't Google either, but maybe I shouldn't say so as I'll be setting myself up as something of an outcast). I shall search for 'squirrel feeder' using my prefered search engine.

    I was actually just about to put some food out and one of the squirrels turned up. Must be mind-readers. Perhaps I should wrap my head in tinfoil? No. Perhaps not.