Mar 27 2009

Bold as you please!

Published by at 7:15 am under Mammals


While I was at work yesterday The Squirrel destroyed part of my expensive new bird feeder. 

I bought it because the squirrels had eaten my old wooden ground feeder and gnawed its wire pigeon-proof cover into sharp thin tines.  The new feeder is all metal and has a spring-loaded perch so that when a heavy bird (pigeon) or a squirrel stands on it the cover closes and hides the bird seed. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mind if the squirrels eat some seed but I have to deter them or they wolf down everything.  They’ve enjoyed my largesse to the point that I now have five of them sparring over access to the peanuts in my “No Mess Mix.”

So I thought I was safe and felt really, really smart when I brought home this crafty feeder. 

If I was a squirrel however, I would have noticed that the most important component – the perch – was made of wood.

Last evening I found the situation pictured above.  The feeder was missing its perch, the perch was in bits on the ground and The Squirrel was picking through the bits eating the seeds he’d knocked out of the feeder. 

As I investigated I discovered he didn’t do this without personal sacrifice.  He left behind one of his claws in the closed cover.  Ow!  I’ve noticed that the normal rodent (squirrel) reaction to being stuck anywhere is to chew one’s way out of it, so the perch might have been an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire. 

I couldn’t leave the feeder without a perch.  The birds were milling around trying to figure out how to eat when there was nowhere to stand, so I found a dowel among the wood scraps in the basement and taped it in place. 

This will have to do until I can construct a better solution.  Maybe the manufacturer supplies replacement perches at Wild Birds Unlimited.  I can’t be the first person who has The Squirrel in her back yard.

(photo by Kate St. John)

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Bold as you please!”

  1. Elspethon 27 Mar 2009 at 9:39 am

    Kate – we too had a feeder like this a few years ago. The squirrel discovered that he could hold onto the hanging rope/wire with a back foot and reach down for the seed without closing access :( I think we just gave up after that.

  2. Kristenon 27 Mar 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I have my very own squirrel. She’s very partial to the lettuce I grow in windowboxes on my deck. (I live in an apt.) I’m willing to share, but she prefers to go through sampling the whole lot and shredding the rest for sport. She has been known to bury nuts in my containers as well.

    I’ve also learned that sparrows are partial to newly emerged basil seedlings. I’m a confirmed animal lover and vegetarian of 16 years, but I’ll confess to having had visions of sparrow stew after they cleaned out an entire window box’s worth! Anyway, floating row cover is my new best friend. I hope you find a new “friend” for your bird feeder!

  3. Libby Strizzion 28 Mar 2009 at 8:22 am

    I have a technique that keeps my hanging feeders squirrel-free.
    You need a tree with a high-up branch (and no other branches in the way.) I get my son (or anyone with a good throwing arm, unlike me) to throw strong twine (macrame twine is good) up over the branch. To do this, he ties one end of the twine securely around a small rock, for weight. Someone has to hold the other end of the twine. He throws it up over the branch. (this may take several tries, and you also try not to have the rock hit you in the head). Then you grab the rock end of the twine, remove rock, tie a loop in the twine thru which you can hang your feeder, pull down to the right height to enable you to fill the feeder easily (but not too close to the ground). The other end of the twine needs to be fastened securely to something — it could be another branch, a nail in the tree, or even to the feeder end of the twine. Needless to say, this hanging twine must be far enuf from the tree trunk, or another branch, so squirrel can’t jump onto the feeder.
    This works very well — the squirrel simply can’t slide down the long length of twine, and he can’t jump over or up to it if you place it correctly. I have three feeders hung this way, and the squirrels haven’t gotten to them yet.

  4. Kate St. Johnon 28 Mar 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Libby, that’s a great idea! But I wonder, do the squirrels every gnaw on the twine? My squirrels chewed the twine on my suet feeder and it fell on the ground – and made them VERY happy.

  5. Doug Baumanon 28 Mar 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Been there, had that done by my squirrels :)

  6. Libby Strizzion 29 Mar 2009 at 7:23 am

    No, they haven’t gnawed the twine. Perhaps it’s a long enough length that they don’t connect the dots — twine across high-up branch equals feeder below. Eventually — after several years — the twine breaks after windy days that swing the feeders back and forth. The trees I use are chokecherry trees that no longer have any lower branches.

  7. Lauren Conkleon 30 Mar 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I hang my house wren nest box from a branch with a long, stiff wire, making sure there are no other branches near the nest box. I started doing this after losing several nests to raccoons. I never thought about doing this with feeders. That’s a good idea!

  8. Vicki & Chuckon 01 Apr 2009 at 8:38 am

    Kate…
    Return your feeder and tell the store you want one with a metal perch. For all you mean to the bird world in this city, they should exchange it.

  9. Kate St. Johnon 01 Apr 2009 at 9:13 am

    Actually, I already ordered the metal perch online from the manufacturer: Heritage Farms. It should arrive any day now.

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