This is a follow-on from an earlier encomium to my wife’s blog. I praised her then for pointing out that if you don’t want squirrels stealing all your birdseed from your feeder, set up a squirrel feeder. It seemed like an elegant solution, until I actually began to own and operate a bird feeder. It has since occurred to me that I do not want to be in the squirrel feeding business at all.
This winter has been great. A posse of appreciative Cardinals, Juncos, Chickadees, Titmice, Bewick Wrens, House Finches, Turtledoves, and a Nuthatch regularly visits to feed from the two troughs of the feeder in this bitterly cold winter. The cats always have a show, and I’ve never gotten such a good look at these birds. A Sapsucker even showed up to see if there was any food around.
In the last couple of weeks, a squirrel followed all the commotion to the feeder, and has been gulping up the birdseed ($15 a bag) much faster than even the house finches. This is a common suburban problem. I suppose it could be a common urban problem too, except with Starlings and Pigeons around. The little bastard was climbing down the fence post, leaning out until he got his front paws on the feeder, and just gulping from the trough.
So I put two 12D nails across the trough on the side nearest the fence last weekend. Far enough away from the tray that the birds could get their beaks on the food, but it would keep him from gulping it down with his teeth or his tongue. The idea was to exclude his mouth from the feeder trough, so he’d have to spend more time and effort stretched out, vulnerable, and getting food a paw at a time.
Beer to Scale
I saw him last week stretching out and only getting some food with his paw, then leaving. I was fine if he got a sample occasionally, I just didn’t want the fluffy rodent camping out on our feeder and gulping half the seed out in one stretch. I figured if I made our feeder less convenient than other feeders and sources of food, he’d hit those more often and leave ours alone. The armored bird feeder works exactly like a car alarm or bike lock. Make mine a pain to deal with, and he’ll go steal something easier.
But I knew this was not over I’m only worried about burning through more than a bag of birdseed a month, he is worried about staying alive the whole winter. His whole mind is on this project, even if it is the size of a peanut.
So today, I saw him batting the feeder around on its rope until the other, unguarded side faced him to stuck his greedy little rat face in. This sent the feeder spinning, after he left, throwing seed all over the ground. Bonus for the ground-feeding Juncos. I knew this day would come, so I took the feeder inside again. After piloting and hammering in two 12D nails into the other side, I reloaded the remaining feed and put it back out.
Let us see how long this lasts before he chews through the rope holding the feeder up. That’s when I’ll get the metal braid out. He’s just looking for food in a cold, cold winter, and I’m looking to feed birds.