Updated at: 10-08-2022 - By: Jane Brody

Due to the lack of certainty in the method of feeding smaller birds as opposed to larger species, it is nevertheless possible to feed small birds while keeping large birds at bay.

Covering ground feeders in a cage or using a squirrel proof bird feeder are both effective ways to deter large birds from eating bird food. Use small feeders that large birds will have trouble accessing, and keep the ground beneath the feeders free of food. Big birds shouldn’t be fed from the ground or on open platform feeders.

Bird Feeder For Large Birds

If you choose the right kind, a squirrel-proof bird feeder will keep even the largest birds out.

Since squirrels can squeeze through the bars of a cage, it stands to reason that large birds may do the same thing on occasion.

To prevent squirrels from getting inside, use a feeder designed for small birds like finches, warblers, and the like that has tiny holes for entry.

In a similar vein, the central bird feeder in a squirrel resistant cage type feeder can go wrong if it is placed too close to the outer cage, allowing even large birds access to the feeder’s contents.

In the meanwhile, make sure there are no messes under your bird feeders, as this could attract unwanted pests like pigeons and crows.

Although it is possible to deter larger birds such as pigeons, crows, and doves from your bird feeders, the larger Blue Jays will be trickier to keep away from the food since they will be misclassified as little birds.

When hung in such a way that larger birds can’t reach them, regular bird feeders can still be used.

Larger birds can produce more of a mess under feeders by accidentally knocking them over and releasing their seed load.

Larger birds that persist in visiting your feeders can be deterred by providing them with food elsewhere.

No access to squirrel proof bird feeders

When you need to successfully deter large birds from your bird feeders, nothing beats a squirrel proof bird feeder.

Seed, suet, and peanut feeders, as well as open dishes, that are encased in a soft plastic coated steel wire cage are examples of squirrel safe bird feeders.

Due to the small openings in the wire, larger birds will be unable to access the bird feeders placed in the middle of the enclosure.

Meanwhile, your little, common birds will happily fly through the spaces in the cages to access the bird seed in the feeders.

There are a number of options for squirrel-proof bird feeders available, but in my opinion, a caged feeder is the best chance.

There are various squirrel-proof bird feeder choices, such as:

  • Squirrel Buster is a brand name for bird feeders that are designed to seal off access to suet, seeds, or nuts if a large, heavy bird perches on them.
  • If a huge bird weighs as much as a squirrel, a motorized squirrel-proof bird feeder like the Droll Yankee might be effective.
  • The feeding ports on the Perky-Pet – Squirrel-Be-Gone series will close if squirrels get on board, but this cannot be guaranteed in the case of larger birds.
  • Even if larger birds land to feed, the Audubon Absolute Hopper can shut off the food supply because of its weight sensitivity feature.

There is no assurance that any of these squirrel-proof feeders, for example, will successfully deter Starlings from bird feeders, but they should work fine with Pigeons and, perhaps, Blue Jays.

Even though there are many other styles of squirrel-proof bird feeders available, a metal caged feeder is the most effective option.

Cover ground bird feeder in cage

Cover ground bird feeder in cage

Although there are numerous options for squirrel-proof bird feeders, most of them are designed to be hung from the ceiling.

Keeping larger birds away from bird feeders by enclosing them in a cage seems like a futile endeavor, given that larger birds are often thought to be ground feeders.

While American Robins and Bluebirds, two of the birds you’d most like to see at your feeders, haven’t acclimated to it yet, huge nuisance birds are almost entirely ground eaters.

We need to feed them on the grass while at the same time limiting the migration of huge birds like Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals and Catbirds.

If you want to prevent huge birds from consuming bird food that you’ve scattered about the lawn, the first step is to keep it contained within a ground bird feeder.

When that time comes, we can finally put this ground-dwelling creature in a cage for safekeeping.

Feeding little birds without a bird feeder is possible if the food is placed on the ground or, say, a garden table; in this case, a squirrel proof cage should be placed over the ground feeder to prevent the squirrels from eating the seed.

The theory behind this method is that smaller birds can fit through the openings in the cage without any problems, but the larger ones are too plump, or perhaps too enormous, to fit through.

Pegs driven into the ground under a cage can keep intelligent birds from dislodging a ground feeder.

In an effort to keep bird food off the ground, where it can quickly spoil, you can purchase a ground bird feeder cage with a feeder attached to the underside.

Keep ground under feeders bird food-free

Even though I’ve shown you how to use squirrel-proof bird feeders or cages to deter large birds, it’s still important to maintain the ground beneath the feeders clear of debris.

The reason for this is that if you leave a messy area under your bird feeders, it will attract largely unwanted huge birds that will then try to get at the food you’ve put out.

Keep all bird food up off the ground, and hopefully you’ve squirrel-proofed your bird feeders to keep off larger birds.

It’s inevitable that there will be a mess under bird feeders from birds dropping food as they eat.

While it is feasible to accommodate huge birds, the majority of ground-feeding birds are small and prefer to forage for food on the ground.

Using a spill tray connected to the base of a bird feeder, you can prevent bird food from falling to the ground and attracting pests like squirrels and raccoons.

Similarly, if you put a tray or tarpaulin under the feeders, you may periodically walk outside and clean it up before it attracts larger birds that you’d like not have around.

Never use open top bird feeders

No matter how careful you are, feeding small backyard birds like finches and warblers in the open will always attract the largest common huge birds, like crows.

In light of their widespread popularity, open-topped platform feeders are not something you should ever use; rather, you should only ever use the more space-efficient hanging bird feeders to keep any kind of bird food.

If you’re tired of seeing pigeons at your bird feeder, the solution isn’t to give them free run of the food table.

If you want fewer birds to steal from your feeders, you should try to keep them from congregating in your yard in the first place.

The next step is to eliminate any potential food sources for birds, even if it means temporarily removing bird feeders to scare away larger birds.

Bird feeder platforms with open tops might be pole-mounted, ground-mounted, or wall-mounted.

Squirrel proofing an open-topped bird feeder is a lot more difficult than squirrel proofing a ground-level feeder, in my opinion.

Smaller birds shouldn’t be fed in open containers on garden tables or deck railings, and neither can wire mesh bird dishes be attached to a bird feeder pole.

Always use common judgment; if you have a problem with huge nuisance birds, the last thing you want to do is attract them by feeding small birds without taking any precautions.

Isolate bird feeders to prevent support

Cover ground bird feeder in cage-2

The bird seed in your squirrel proof feeder is hidden and out of the way, but you may still use ordinary bird feeders if you want.

A thistle seed bird feeder, for instance, could be used, but only if the only way for birds to feed required them to perch precariously on the wire. Larger birds are highly unlikely to follow suit.

You can’t go wrong with a clear tube seed feeder and a supply of wild bird seed.

All seed feeders must be of the long, narrow variety, with several perches, but they must be extremely compact in size, and there must be no seed tray attached to the base.

As far as I’m aware, there is no other type of bird feeder – and hence no other type of bird food – that you could use to keep huge birds out.

These seed feeders should be hung from a bird feeder pole so that birds can see them; nevertheless, it is possible to hang feeders from a branch if you take care to avoid a common mistake.

You should never suspend bird feeders from a pole or limb in a fashion that allows large birds to use a nearby bracket or tree branch as a perch.

Isolating bird feeders, or maintaining them at least a foot apart, is intended to discourage birds from perching on either side of them in order to get the food without having to negotiate a difficult, too-small feeder.

Dispense food in small bird feeders

Most common, larger birds won’t be able to feed at all if you utilize bird food stored in a small, compact bird feeder.

In fact, common birds like pigeons and crows aren’t likely to bother with little bird feeders, preferring instead to hover above the feeders and contemplate their options.

Put out seed in little feeders that your finches and warblers will have to use their beaks to access.

Any size bird may access the nuts or suet pellets in a wire bird feeder, therefore you might only be able to use a little seed feeder.

Placement of smaller bird feeders is not restricted to any particular pole or pole bracket; however, no extra feeders or objects should be made accessible for larger birds to perch on. It’s been my experience that larger birds can benefit greatly from having a perch nearby when trying to feed from a bird feeder meant for smaller birds.

To discourage large birds from using bird feeders, use a feeder designed for smaller birds or one that is squirrel resistant.

Keep bird feeders out of the reach of heavier birds if at all possible; when these birds try to access the feeder, the seeds will inevitably fall out.


One must utilize a squirrel-proof bird feeder if they want to discourage larger birds from eating from their offerings.

Even if you don’t have a squirrel problem, you may still want to use a squirrel-proof bird feeder to keep the bigger birds away from your feeders.

As the squirrel, or now the hefty huge bird, arrives on the feeder, the feeding ports are automatically shut off by the mechanism.

When trying to deter squirrels from your bird feeder, a cage covered in a soft plastic material will prove to be the most effective method.

Cages can keep larger birds outside while allowing smaller, more common species to enter through spacing designed to prevent them from flying through the bars.

Problems can arise if the wire spacing in a squirrel-proof bird feeder cage is too large, or if the feeder isn’t placed far enough from the cage’s center, allowing larger birds to lean in and feed.

A squirrel proof bird feeder cage can be installed over any existing ground bird feeder to make it inaccessible to squirrels, much like hanging squirrel proof bird feeders.

Never use platform feeders with an open top, and never put out food for birds where it might be seen by unwanted species.

You can still use the specialized, compact seed feeder, which even the largest birds find challenging to get.

If you want to, you can put out food for birds in tiny feeders, but make sure there’s no tray or dish for the bigger birds to perch on.

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