Nature News

How to Feed the Wild Birds, not the Bears or the Squirrels
By Cheryl Killam 4-13-17

It’s spring time with summer only weeks away and the bears are moving around Raymond, Epping, Nottingham, Chester and Fremont. NH Fish and Game has put out notices for everyone to take down their bird feeders, before April 1st, of sunflower and mixed seed, peanuts, suet and anything else the bears might want to eat.

The bears have visited Ham Road in Raymond four years in a row now and each year they come out of semi-hibernation a week or two earlier than the previous year.

2014 was the first year we realized that there really were bears strolling through Raymond, because the bird feeder poles were bent and feeders were taken into the woods in April and again in June.


They pushed the feeder poles over but couldn't get any seed out.

In 2015 there was damage to the feeders and poles in June, July, September and November from multiple visitors, a mother with two small cubs and a single roaming male. The mother pushed over as many poles as she could so the cubs had plenty to eat with her.


Momma pulled the feeders down for the little cubs.


In early spring of 2016 the mother along with the full grown yearling cubs returned. She showed them how to find bird seed inside the galvanized buckets on the front porch and how to push the poles over with their front paws.


Momma and the yearlings pushed everything down they could.


This is the young bear walked through the front yard at 9:30 AM on June 25th and returned at 5:30 that same night hoping to get the feeders before they were brought inside.


This lone bear strolled through at 9:30 in the morning.


The first bear visit of the season was Christmas Eve 2016 and it has visited randomly over the past couple months. The bear was determined to get at the feeders and tried climbing five different trees, based on the claw marks in the bark, only to be stopped at the barbed wire wrapped around the tree trunks which prevents them from getting close enough to the cables to break them with their paws and have the feeders come crashing down.This visiting bear has been seen at various times of the day and night around Raymond and Epping.


Surprise, surprise, the bear visited on Christmas Eve 2016.


We have recorded the dates of all the visits each year and every year we say we are going to bring the bird feeders inside a month earlier but the bears come out before we get them inside.

Since I sit at the computer daily, with my desk beside a window, I really love to feed the wild birds and watch the bright red cardinals, gold finches, purple finches, chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmouse, red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, blue jays and mourning doves feed. This past winter I finally had 3 pairs of bluebirds chowing down on meal worms and the peanut-butter cornmeal blend. Sadly, only one of those three pairs of bluebirds has decided to stay.

The birds are fed here year round despite the bears who might visit every 3 to 4 weeks because as it gets warmer into spring and summer there are red breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, orioles, and hummingbirds that visit and stay for the summer bringing their babies to the feeders as well.

This is how to feed the wild birds but not the bears or the squirrels.

All feeders are hung on the cables so that the bottom of the feeders are eight feet minimum from the ground and nine feet away from the tree trunks. Most bears in NH are not much larger than seven feet so they couldn't even reach on their tippy toes

You will need to use a six foot ladder to reach the feeders, to lower them, fill them and then rehang them. So if you don't like heights this might not work for you.

As you can see by the photo below, there are weather baffles over the tops of all feeders to protect the birds and the seed from the rain or snow.



Some feeders hang directly off of the large S-hook which is secured by the smaller S-hook (not shown above) while others hang from a 4 or 6" length of chain so that the feeders swing in the wind and do not come crashing down.


A list of items needed include:



1. Pick two solid oak or maple trees to hang the cable between. Do not use any fir or pine trees with any branches.

2. Measure the diameter of both trees for the short section of cable that gets slid inside the bicycle inner tube to wrap around the trees up at 11 or 12 feet off the ground and clamp them snug with a cable clamp.

3. Next measure the distance between the trees for the length of the feeder hanger cable, minus 6 inches or the size of the turn-buckle, pinch the cable ends around the tear-drop thimbles and secure them with small cable clamps.

4. Find the center of the hanger cable and attach a cable clamp to the cable and a small S-hook. Spread open one side of the larger S-hook for hanging the feeders on. Now close the bottom open end of the small S-hook around the closed side of the larger S-hook. This lets feeders swing in the wind. Decide how far apart you want more feeders and attach more cable clamps and S-hooks for hanging feeders.

5. Drill holes in the bottoms of the plastic bottles and the divider plates. Attach another cable clamp about 6 feet from the ends of the cable and then slide at least 3 or 4 sets of bottle and divider plates onto the cable. This is how to keep the squirrels from running across the cables to the feeders.

6. Attach a Q-link to the end of the long cable through the teardrop thimble and attach it to the rubber wrapped cable on the tree and hook the other end of the cable to a turn buckle attached to the second rubber wrapped cable that is snug around the second tree trunk.


Barbed wire wrapped around the tree keeps bears from reaching cable.


Drilled bottles and plastic dividers to keep squirrels off.


Rubber wrapped cable, Q-links and turn-buckle.


Chain attached to cable and hanging S-hook.


You've probably seen the photo of the bear hanging upside down from the cable and climbing paw over paw to reach the red feeder in the middle?

They cannot do that with ours because we keep them from climbing that high up the tree by wrapping barbed wire around the trees from the rubber wrapped chain down 2 to 3 feet. This way the bear can not climb and reach out its paw to the cable and snap it.


Claw marks on the bark where the bear climbed to get at the feeders.


Trust me it works. This is one of the trees the bear tried climbing and never made it up to the cables. Those are the claw marks in the tree bark and the bird bath beside the tree was knocked over when he slid back down the tree.

All the cables were still up, as were all the birdfeeders.

That is how to feed the birds during the summer but not the bears or squirrels.

This cable is 30 feet between the two trees with feeders spaced 20 inches apart.


This cable is 40 feet between the two trees with feeders spaced 3 feet apart.

You will need to check the rubber wrapped cable and barbed wire to adjust it periodically as the tree growns so the bark does not grow around it.

If you do not have the trees to setup the cable system, there is this bear proof pole that can be ordered. Click on The Bear Pole

Here is an interesting article on Staying Safe Around Bears from the National Park Service.

If you are interested in ordering a package with cables and hardware, call 603-679-2235 with necessary measurements and we will quote you a price, including shipping and handling. Or email: and we will get back to you with prices.






































Return to Outdoor News


Develop an attitude of Gratitude !!
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~

Raymond Area  Outdoors
Join Us Outdoors for Walks, Hikes, Biking, Snowshoeing and More.

New Hampshire Audubon Society - Massabesic Center
Protecting New Hampshires Natural Environment for wildlife and for people.

The Great Bay Discovery Center and Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center
The education headquarters of the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Seacoast Science Center
Creating Connections to Nature thru Personal Experience.