what grease to use on bird feeder pole

But keep in mind that oil spills, no matter how minor, are fatal to any birds that come into contact with them. Preen gland secretions are fatty and waxy, but they don’t act as a water-proof barrier. They contribute to the maintenance of healthy, supple feathers by inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria and fungi that degrade and digest keratin, the feather’s main building block. Additionally, by deterring harmful bacteria and fungi and making it more difficult for feather lice to chew on the feathers, these preen gland secretions encourage the growth of bacteria and fungi that can protect the feathers. Some feathers have the ability to repel water because of their physical microstructure rather than from additional oils. Feathers in poor condition will lose the water-proofing ability. Natural or petroleum-based oils added to the feathers have the potential to destroy these essential qualities.

There is an alternative, though it will initially cost a little bit more. Hot pepper No Mess blend seed, which is coated with a potent extract of capsaicin, the “hot” component of hot peppers, is currently offered by Wild Birds Unlimited. Although they can taste it, birds do not react negatively at all to it. They do not have the mammalian receptor that results in an uncomfortable or slightly painful experience. So long as they don’t taste it, squirrels (or rats, bears, or other mammals) will reject the seed, but birds will happily eat it.

Indeed, birds DO land on metal poles, frequently snatching them momentarily as they fly to the feeder. A Downy Woodpecker is seen in the attached photo grabbing hold of the pole and gradually climbing it to reach a suet feeder. Her tail and possibly her belly feathers came into contact with the pole’s metal during her entire ascent. The tips of her tail feathers or her belly feathers would get dirty and possibly damaged very fast if oils were on this pole. Some of the insulating qualities that healthy feathers would offer could be eliminated by damaged breast or belly feathers. A woodpecker’s tail feathers are crucial, if not vital, because they provide support when the bird is pressed up against a tree trunk.

To keep squirrels from climbing poles we have baffles that can be attached to a pole which physically provide a barrier that squirrels cannot pass, assuming proper placement. Remember, squirrels can jump so the baffle must be 5-6 feet above the ground or from any other object (like a bush or planter) to prevent jumping over it.

While it might be entertaining to watch and effective, please DO NOT do this. Such petroleum-based products can be harmful to animals. When squirrels get these substances on their paws, they will lick them to clean themselves, which will cause them to ingest the potentially toxic petroleum products internally. While ingested in small doses may have laxative effects, larger doses may result in more harm. Severe lung damage can occur if aspirated into the lungs. This seldom occurs but is possible. Additionally, these items have the potential to irritate eyes and harm them if they get in them. Our goal is not to harm or kill squirrels; rather, it is to stop or deter them from getting to the bird food!

We hope you will pass this information on to others. All knowledge is valuable, and it is crucial to both possess and disseminate this knowledge. Our chances of preserving the birds that we all adore are better the more informed we are. (Thank you to our sister store in Sudbury, MA).

Annually, clients inform us that they have oiled their feeder poles to prevent squirrels from reaching their bird feeders. To prevent squirrels from stealing your bird food, please refrain from greasing your poles. Vaseline, WD-40, axle grease, vegetable oil, and other greasy or oily products can seriously hurt birds and squirrels when used to grease poles.


What kind of grease do you use on a bird feeder pole?

Many people use products such as Vaseline, WB-40, axle grease or another greasy or oily products, with the idea that this provides a slippery barrier that the squirrel can’t get past. At least initially, the animal slides down the pole while trying. It may be effective and funny to watch, but please, do NOT do this.

Should I grease the bird feeder pole?

A once-popular method to thwart squirrels is to grease your feeder poles. Though effective in the short term, this is one solution we recommend against. If birds get into the grease, it can seriously impair their feathers’ waterproofing and insulation.

Can you use Vaseline on bird feeder poles?

The Center for Wildlife says there are many ways to deter squirrels from climbing feeders, however, Vaseline and other lubricants can harm the animals.

What do you put around a bird feeder pole?

Add a Perky-Pet® Transparent Squirrel Baffle over the bird feeder to prevent squirrels from climbing down the wire used to hang the bird feeder. If you decide to use a free standing pole, it should be 5′ high and 10′ from the nearest tree.