Outdoor PestsWildlife

How To Keep Bears Away from Bird Feeders

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Bird feeders can be an excellent way to attract a variety of beautiful birds to your backyard. But in areas where bears are common, those same bird feeders can become a magnet for unwanted visitors. Bears are opportunistic eaters, and the high-calorie food found in bird feeders is often too tempting to resist. In this in-depth guide, we will explore the strategies and methods you can implement to keep bears away from your bird feeders.


To keep bears away from bird feeders, bring in the feeders at night as bears are primarily nocturnal. Use bear-proof poles and suspend feeders from a wire to make them harder to reach. Regularly clean up spilled seed and store extra seed securely indoors or in bear-proof containers. During bear season (April to October), it’s recommended to remove bird feeders altogether. If bears continue to visit, install motion-activated lights or sprinklers, use electric fencing, and report the bear to your local wildlife agency.

Common Types of Bears and Their Behaviours

The most common types of bears that are attracted to bird feeders are black bears and grizzly bears. These bears are omnivores with a flexible diet, and bird feeders often contain high-calorie foods like birdseed and grains, which are attractive to them. Once a bear has found a feeder, it will keep visiting if it’s consistently filled with food. Over time, their wariness around humans may diminish, leading to potentially dangerous encounters.

Risks and Problems Associated with Bears and Bird Feeders

There are several potential risks and problems associated with attracting bears to bird feeders. These include:

  1. Dependency: Bears can become reliant on humans for food, leading to increased human-bear encounters.
  2. Increased Aggression: Bears can act aggressively to protect their newly found food source.
  3. Property Damage: Bears can cause significant damage to bird feeders, poles, and other structures.
  4. Legal Issues: In certain areas, attracting bears with bird feeders can be against local regulations.

Strategies to Keep Bears Away from Bird Feeders

To deter bears from your bird feeders, consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. Bring in Feeders at Night: Bears are primarily nocturnal, so removing feeders at night can deter them.
  2. Use Bear-Proof Poles: Sturdy poles, securely cemented and at least 10-12 feet high, can make it more difficult for bears to reach feeders.
  3. Suspend Feeders from a Wire: This makes feeders harder for bears to reach.
  4. Clean Up Spilled Seed: Regularly cleaning up spilled seed can prevent bears from being attracted to the area.
  5. Store Bird Seed Securely: Keep extra seed indoors or in bear-proof containers to prevent bears from accessing it.
  6. Remove Feeders During Bear Season: In areas with bear populations, it’s recommended to take down bird feeders between April and October when bears are most active.

Bird Feeders Less Attractive to Bears

Choosing bird feeders and seeds that are less appealing to bears can also help. For example, bears find Nyjer and safflower seeds less appealing. Bird feeders can also be suspended from a wire between buildings or sturdy trees, making them inaccessible to bears.

Common Mistakes Homeowners Make

Some common mistakes homeowners make that attract bears include leaving bird feeders out at night, not using bear-proof poles, not cleaning up spilled seed, storing extra seed improperly, and providing other food sources in the yard. By addressing these issues, you can reduce the likelihood of attracting bears to your bird feeders.

What to Do if a Bear Continues to Visit

If a bear continues to visit your bird feeders despite implementing these strategies, it’s time to take more drastic measures. Remove bird feeders altogether, install motion-activated lights or sprinklers, use electric fencing around the feeding area, and report the bear to your local wildlife agency.

Remember, it’s important for both human safety and the well-being of the bear population to keep bears away from bird feeders. By implementing these strategies, you can enjoy bird watching without attracting unwanted visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is bear season?

Bear season typically refers to the time of year when bears are most active. This is usually between April and October, coinciding with their feeding and mating seasons.

Are there any bear-proof bird feeders available in the market?

While there are no 100% bear-proof bird feeders, there are designs that are more difficult for bears to access. These typically involve sturdy, metal feeders that are suspended high from the ground.

How can I report a bear to my local wildlife agency?

Reporting a bear sighting will vary depending on your location. Generally, you can report it by calling your local wildlife agency or animal control. Some areas may also have online reporting systems.

What other food sources in my yard might attract bears?

Other food sources that can attract bears include pet food, compost piles, fruit trees, and garbage cans.

Can I use any specific scents or sprays to deter bears?

There are certain commercial bear deterrent sprays available that can help deter bears. These typically contain capsaicin, the compound that makes chili peppers hot, which irritates bears’ noses and eyes. However, these should be used as a last resort and are not a substitute for the other preventative measures mentioned in the guide.

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