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Wednesday June 15th 2011, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

So we have this birdfeeder that closes a cage over the portholes under the weight of a squirrel.

Richard wanted me to hang it where he wouldn’t hit his head on it.

We have this wooden awning pole about three or four feet away, then, that the squirrels have learned is useful for flinging themselves from to knock it sideways to give the restaurant a shakeout.

There have been some mornings where they’ve done that so many times they’ve nearly emptied the thing before I’ve even woken up. The only problem for them is, whichever one takes the risk of jumping through my twig setup for the birds to perch on then has to jump down five feet to the hard concrete to get anything–where there are six to eight others, often, fighting and snarfing fast. Quite the scrum.

So I’ve done all sorts of things to make the pole unfriendly.  The tin foil, the parchment paper, oiling the paper. All of which worked for awhile. Pam spray gets tacky-feeling rather than slippery after awhile, and the one that got a feather stuck in her tail: she’s cool with that. It’s all paw-licking good.

I started taking the feeder in at night. (My daughter-in-law’s hasn’t been as accessible to them.)

The solution was so simple it eluded me for months. I’ve waited days now to see if it would hold–so far, it has.

I put a chair not quite just under the feeder: a little forward from it, to give them some leap comfortability (not to mention cutting down on the guano effect), but definitely closer than the pole. A straightforward small jump with far less risk and effort and no rewarding the others below for encroaching on their territory.

That lands them at the bottom of the feeder, which then closes down–no swinging side-to-side, no sunflowers.

And that was all it took.

They are not willing to take the risk and the jump when there’s an easy way to get to their target. They’re not making that leap when some other could reach right up and grab the prized perch from them and beat them to it. There has been no yardful of black and gray bushytails in the morning. No stolen seed. Just one lone squirrel patiently gleaning whatever the birds above might toss towards it, cleaning up the patio for me.


Michelle says give’em about a week.

p.s. And in the oh ye of little fate department: as I was typing that, a Cooper’s hawk careened through the patio, the squirrel was late to notice but then dove under the chair, the dove got away too but a finch panicked and hit the window. It landed on its back, wings quivering in shock, inches away from the glass. The hawk didn’t pause a wingbeat but curved in, acknowledging the dove and squirrel as lost to that hunt, and artfully grabbed the finch en route without so much as brushing the window nor stopping. It all happened so fast.

I called my neighbor to let him know it was plucking away on the fence between us. Feathers flew, then the Cooper’s did.

Not the bigger meal she was aiming for flying back to her nest with, but dim sum and den some. Later!

7 Comments so far
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A whole week, eh? LOL…well, I hope so. BTW…we have a finch hashery up the river a little bit, too. 🙂

Comment by Ruth 06.15.11 @ 10:01 pm

Hmmm. Yes, I think you may underestimate those squirrels…

And wow, what an encounter with the hawk again. He must be thinking of your back yard as his local take-away! What an honour…

Comment by tinebeest 06.15.11 @ 11:23 pm

I had one of those feeders too once. Notice the key word “had”. The squirrel gnawed at the spring mechanism which keeps the openings closed until he broke it and could then empty the feeder. Smart little buggers!

Comment by Jody 06.16.11 @ 2:57 am money is on the squirrels too. We have a birdfeeder, not so much for the birds, but to entertain the cats- it hangs right outside the window next to the cat castle. And this morning, there were three small birds fluttering around trying to get breakfast while a squirrel and a chipmunk took turns trying to empty the feeder.

The cat was half out of the castle, looking from one to the other in tail-lashing excitement. GOOD show this morning. (We call it CSAN- the Crunchy Small Animal Network.)

Comment by RobinH 06.16.11 @ 6:18 am

the squirrels are why we don’t have a bird feeder any more — I finally gave up — they are also why I noticed that I have several green bean plants coming up in the pumpkin patch portion of the garden, they are annoying beyond belief, but as long as they stay away from gnawing their way back into the house itself, I’ll leave them alone

Comment by bev 06.16.11 @ 8:18 am

As the squirrel turns?

Comment by Channon 06.16.11 @ 8:23 am

Dim sum and den some. Love it.
It does take some experimenting to keep the little furry ones OUT! I’m with RobinH. Start thinking of the next move NOW.

Comment by Don Meyer 06.16.11 @ 8:41 am

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