Raccoons at the Feeder

Stop these masked invaders in their tracks

Birds are a wonderful part of having a backyard garden, and the pretty picture they make flitting about, feeding and playing with each other, can delight the heart of any birdwatching fan. However, attracting birds to your yard can also attract other wildlife that may not be so charming. Raccoons are one of these nuisances.

The masked animal is known as a night prowler who can empty feeders in the space of a single night. Raccoons also terrorize brooding birds and destroy nests to eat the eggs. In short, they're pests, and can destroy your feeders, baths and bird population if left unchecked.

Don't worry - you won't see your hard work to attract birds destroyed. Raccoons are annoying, but they're controllable. Some of the same methods that you would use to squirrel-proof a feeder or a nesting box can be used to raccoon-proof your birds' attractants. Remember, though - you may be trying to get rid of raccoons for a while. They're extremely smart animals and can find their way around conventional baffles and deterrents. It may take a few, or a combination, of methods to finally beat them.

Raccoons at the Feeder

To get rid of raccoons, try:

  • Fastening a pipe around the pole of the feeder that moves when raccoons step on it. This can be an old stove pipe or a piece of hard plastic tubing. Make sure it's not ridged on the outside, or the squirrels and raccoons will find a way to climb up. Pairing this with a baffle may deter the raccoons from trying to climb the feeder.
  • Hang your feeders and nesting boxes away from tree branches, structures or sheds that raccoons can use to get to them
  • Try a “bird feeder clothesline” - drive two poles into the ground and string a line between them. String empty pop bottles lengthwise along the line, and hang the feeder between the bottles. If an animal attempts to step on the clothesline, they'll be spun off by the rotating bottles.
  • Use a raccoon or squirrel repellent. They're perfectly safe for the animals and can be found at any pet or birding store.
  • If nothing else works, try taking your feeders into your garage or shed at night, or, if you don't have an enclosed area, invest in a raccoon-proof container to store your feeders and seed.
  • If raccoons are targeting your nesting boxes, reduce the size of the entrance hole by tacking on some strong wire mesh that will allow the birds to get in and out but keep the raccoons from reaching in to steal eggs.

Don't:

  • Paint your clothesline, feeder or feeder pole with any sticky or slippery substance like petroleum jelly or glycerin. This is extremely bad for birds and animals and can mat fur and tangle feathers, leaving the creatures open for predation.
  • Set out traps or use a firearm to harm or kill raccoons.
  • Use poison to kill raccoons. It can also harm or kill children and pets, or other animals and birds in your area.