Do you have problems with squirrels or raccoons raiding your bird feeder? They eat everything in sight and scatter the rest on the ground for their friends! After years of frustration, and many products that were supposed to solve the problem, I finally tried the Advanced Pole System® (APS) from Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU).
Modular Bird Feeder Pole System
The WBU APS bird feeder pole system comes with a whole range of parts that allow you to customize it to fit your individual needs. All parts have a black, powder-coated finish that holds up beautifully over many years of use without rusting or staining.
The pole system has a two-piece pole; the 4-foot long bottom half is screwed into the ground and the 4-foot upper part then slides over top and locks in place.
Once the pole is installed, you can add on a variety of “arms,” including double-crook, single-crook, and decorative “branches” from which to hang bird feeders. There are other accessories as well, such as feeder cups and water dishes, that easily attach to the pole.
Top off the whole system with a decorative finial and you’re ready to start feeding the birds!
Easily Screws Into the Ground for Stability
The bottom of the bird feeder pole has an integrated auger that allows you to screw the pole into the ground. Be careful when installing the pole system in rocky ground as buried rocks can damage the pole and prevent it from screwing fully into the ground.
When the pole is firmly in place, slide the stabilizer over the base pole and push the four legs into the ground (just step on them). Be sure the base is perfectly vertical when you do this or the whole system will end up crooked – it helps to have a level or someone helping you keep it straight.
The auger and the stabilizer make it easy to install the pole and the system will stay in place under most conditions, especially after the ground freezes.
Squirrel and Raccoon Baffles
You’ve probably seen many different types of contraptions designed to block squirrels’ access to the feeder – everything from Slinky-like springs to large saucers to greasing the pole. Many work for a while and then the squirrels figure out a way to “beat the system.” So I wasn’t holding out much hope that the APS baffle would be effective. Boy, was I surprised!
The baffle slides over the pole and is held in place with a thumb screw tightened against the pole. This keeps the baffle from sliding down while still letting it move from side to side.
Squirrels can climb the pole but they can’t get around the baffle as it’s too wide for them to get their arms around. It’s also too tall for them to jump over. It’s fun watching them climb up the pole into the baffle; after realizing that there’s nowhere for them to go, they back out looking somewhat baffled by the whole thing (pun intended).
The key is to attach the baffle high enough up the pole so that the squirrels can’t jump high enough to get around it. Another key is to place the pole 10 feet or more away from anything that squirrels can climb – they can jump a long way and the more adventurous ones will definitely make the attempt when tempted with a full bird feeder.
A Couple of Tips
Don’t overload the bird feeder pole system. With so many attachments to choose from, it’s easy to get carried away. But seed can be heavy so hanging a lot of feeders can make the pole system sway in strong winds and, eventually, fall over or bend/break one of the arms.
Use ‘guy wires’ to hold the pole system firmly in place. We used four cords tied around the center of the pole and anchored into the ground with tent pegs. If you’ll only be hanging a few feeders or lighter attachments, this isn’t necessary as the auger at the bottom of the pole anchors it pretty well. But with more feeders and heavier accessories, the extra stability is helpful. And if you have raccoons throwing themselves at the pole, the ‘guy wires’ are a necessity!
Put it in place before the ground freezes. This one should be pretty obvious but it’s surprising how quickly the ground freezes. Set the system up early, even if you don’t put up the bird feeders.
Choosing Bird Seed
Check with your local Wild Birds Unlimited store (or the website) to find out which foods are best for the birds in your area. This will change with the seasons as birds migrate.
Be sure to buy the best bird food you can afford. We noticed a significant difference when using seed from WBU as compared to that from the local big box store or garden centers; birds were far more likely to eat the WBU seed and didn’t scatter much of it on the ground. Other brands often include fillers that birds don’t particularly like; they’ll eat it if they’re hungry but will prefer to pick out the “good stuff” instead. You can also be sure that seed bought at WBU is fresh and appropriate for the local bird populations.
We give the WBU APS bird feeding system a 5-shovel rating. The modular system allows you to hang as many or as few bird feeders as you like, it’s easy to assemble and install, the powder-coated surface doesn’t rust, and the baffle completely eliminates scavenging squirrels.
Where To Buy It
The APS system, as well as all the accessories, bird feeders, and seed, are available at your local Wild Birds Unlimited store or through their website.