Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Who outwitted whom?

I've an ongoing struggle with the resident squirrels that eat more of the seed I put out for the birds than the birds do.  My husband built a cage around my largest feeder but, in time, the squirrels found their way in.

No matter how many times the cage was reinforced, the squirrel inevitably found a way in, usually within a matter of days


As the bottom metal plate on the feeder was disintegrating, I decided to retire the "squirrel feeder" and went shopping for a new bird feeder.  Luckily, the local wild bird food store had a special on squirrel resistant feeders.  (Yes, we have a store catering specifically to the needs of wild birds.)  I bought the top-of-the-line feeder, an improvement on the "squirrel buster" feeders I already had.  It's marketed as "guaranteed squirrel proof."  (You can see how it works here if you're interested.)

Did it work?  You be the judge.

Entry attempted with back legs clinging to the feeder pole but his weight on the bottom section closes the seed ports

He tries to pull the feeder toward him while hanging from another feeder but even the lesser pressure closes the seed ports

He studies the problem from above

Giving up on the new feeder, he tries his luck with an earlier version of the "squirrel buster" feeder but gets only a trivial amount of seed by hanging upside down

After giving me a good stare, he took off


After two days of multiple attempts to crack the feeder, Mr. Squirrel was found sitting dejectedly at the top of the feeder pole.

He appeared to be staring directly into my office window

Is that a look of melancholy?  Or, is he plotting revenge?


The birds seemed happy that they no longer had to share the feeders.


Mr. Squirrel could be seen now and then, eating seed the birds dropped to the ground


It appeared that Mr. Squirrel had come down in the world.  Literally.  Or so I thought.

Then I found that most of the Gazanias in the backyard border looked like this


So, the "squirrel feeder" has been rescued from the trash bin.  My husband affixed a plastic pot saucer to the bottom of the feeder to replace the disintegrating metal one and I filled it with seed.  The squirrels aren't getting the good stuff though - they'll have to make do with the cheap seed mix from the local big box store.

The old feeder has been attached to the pole on the south side of the house, where the squirrels and the scrub jays can duke it out over the lower grade seed and leave the smaller birds - and hopefully, my Gazanias - undisturbed



All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

33 comments:

  1. Sounds like how my neighbor got rid of her raccoons by using two scarecrows (crossing water jets). Raccoons are in my yard now. These varmint vandals have amazing powers of persistence, don't they?

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    1. Yes, they do. I try to remind myself that they're just trying to survive, which has to be harder since the drought took hold. I find it easier to tolerate the squirrels than the raccoons, though. Good luck with yours, Jane!

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  2. Q: How to get seed? A: Make it in the gardener's shared interest that I do so...

    I was just reading about how smart parrots are - and they are selectively predominantly seed eaters as well. Seeds have everything they need/want and are obviously enticing beyond fruit or other sources of nutrition. Same seems to apply to squirrels.

    I had to keep going back to the shot of the squirrel staring through your office window. It does convey "plotting" now you mention it. Great catch!

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    1. It was almost creepy when I saw him sitting at the top of that pole just staring in my direction. I swear he spent at least an hour there!

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  3. You were tough nut to crack, but the squirrel finally trained you! :-)

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    1. And he did a good job of it! His progeny (of which I'm sure there will be plenty now that I'm supporting them) will probably tell the tale for generations.

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  4. I am reminded of a nick name a friend had for squirrels, however it's not G-rated so I think I'll keep it to myself.

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    1. Well, I reserve the term "spawn of Satan" for the raccoon so I need a good name for the squirrel and all his friends, who I'm sure will be moving here soon...

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  5. Little devil! Definitely extracted his revenge! We feed our squirrels corn cobs and hang our feeders from a pulley attached to a tree (mostly to keep it away from the bears and raccoons). The squirrels glean under the feeder, which is fine by me. I'm glad they no longer try to get at the feeder.

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    1. Bears! Well, we have coyotes - and raccoons - but, if either helps to keep the squirrel population in check, I've yet to see evidence of it. And no one other than reckless drivers seems to take out the skunks, which have recently increased their visits too, leaving their own odoriferous calling card.

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  6. Oh Kris, you just made me laugh! Your lamentations made me think of my stepdad. If I could draw better, I would make a cartoon about him and his battles with the squirrels. Once, in a moment of frustration, he declared that he wished his grad students had half the tenacity of those furry little bastards. I thought that was really funny!

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    1. I actually have a book entitled "Outwitting Squirrels" and the bottom line from the author was: you can't. They're persistent little buggers. This one made a careful study of the new feeder, trying all angles, and, when he couldn't beat it, he decided to go to work on its purchaser. Quite clever really.

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  7. I wouldn't have believed how clever squirrels can be; but I have proof now. Has he left the rest of the flowers alone now he has his own personal feeder?

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    1. I cut off all the half-eaten Gazania blooms and, so far, the new blooms appear to be unmolested. Between the birds and the squirrels, though, I think I may need to put my seed orders on auto-delivery status!

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  8. Oh, your photos tell such a fabulous story! We have the same issues here. We have 8 feeders in our wooded area and my husband goes nuts about the squirrels eating his seeds! And that boy does look totally dejected in that photo. We've tried squirrel proof feeders that didn't work, but to no avail. I'll have to go to Wild Birds Unlimited to try to find one like yours. Too bad he punished you in the garden. They're pretty smart for such little creatures. Jeff calls them rats with tails!

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    1. That's where I got my "guaranteed squirrel proof" feeder, Diana, so hopefully your local store also carries it. Warning: it's pricey! I had a gift credit for renewing my membership, which took a little of the sting out of the sticker shock.

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  9. That darn squirrel! Great shots of him trying and failing to get into your new feeder. I hope the diversionary feeder will work to keep him away from your plants. Now, if we can just come up with something to deter those nasty raccoons!

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    1. Those horrid raccoons had me about ready to cry this morning when I discovered they'd turned the south side garden upside down. It may be their most destructive run yet. I've read that putting a radio out, set to an all-night talk station, can have a deterrent effect but I haven't tried that yet. My husband's worried the radio will annoy the neighbors...

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  10. Bravo Kris. I need one of those new feeders.
    In the meantime, I saw this and thought of you. Well, both of us actually..
    http://smilebcitsworthit.tumblr.com/post/16594035559

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    1. I'm surprised that chair didn't have a silk cushion too, Jessica!

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  11. Here bird seed means a guaranteed influx of rats and it is likely why the squirrels invaded our street as well. Birds are messy eaters and enough falls to the ground to feed rodents. Sorry.

    The squirrel pix are cute, though. Natasha starts shrieking hysterically when she sees them. It's a dog thing, apparently.

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    1. I wonder is she shrieking in fear or just general excitement? The latter, I'm assuming. I'd think Natasha could send the squirrels packing.

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    2. Blood lust! No fear at all.

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  12. Omg those pictures of the squirrel atop the feeder are hilarious. LOL Too bad he was plotting revenge though.

    Squirrels are amazingly clever. They used to play with my Jack Russell when she chased them in the back yard when we lived in Chapel Hill; they'd go around and around the tree, high enough to be safe but low enough to entice her to continue running around the tree.

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    1. My cat made a break for it this morning, chasing after what appeared to be a squirrel. She was gong for a good hour and a half.

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  13. I feed the squirrels. They don't bother me and are hungry, too. I have a big feeder full of seeds they like that they have to share with large birds who often run them off. My small seed feeder is a Squirrel Buster and they leave it alone in favor of the other.

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    1. It's a toss up who's on top in my garden - the squirrels or the scrub jays.

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  14. We have squirrel problems and have had this attached for 5 years
    http://www.gardeners.com/buy/wrap-around-squirrel-baffle/8586458.html?utm_campaign=PLA&utm_medium=googleshopping&utm_source=google&SC=XNET9423&gclid=CK29jJnL3csCFc9ffgodxCMJOw&kwid=productads-adid^92861478158-device^c-plaid^115067376998-sku^8586458-adType^PLA and it definitely stops them Does not stop them from jumping from a nearby tree but you will save seed from these gluttons - they have given up grazing below the feeder also since we installed the baffle

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    1. I've looked at baffles but, as you noted, they can use trees as a springboard and I'd have to move the feeders (possible but not ideal from a viewing perspective) in order to get value from a baffle.

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  15. That is hilarious, and I confess my sympathy was leaning toward the squirrel as he sat forlornly atop the pole. I once raised a baby squirrel from earliest infancy when his nest was destroyed by a storm. His eyes were still sealed shut, and when they opened, he saw me. So he thought I was his mama! Whiskers was extremely intelligent. Long story, but I raised him to return to the wild, which he eventually did. I have always had a soft spot for squirrels since then.

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    1. In the echelon of backyard critters, the squirrels aren't anywhere near the top of my pest list so I'm more tolerant of them than perhaps I should be. In any case, my squirrels seem to be happy once more.

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  16. Poor you, poor squirrel... Am I forgiven for laughing??! Those pictures totally tell the story!

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    1. The squirrel is now filling his stomach on the south side of the garden. He's made a mess getting the seed out of the feeder but there's more than enough seed to keep him and his pesky friends away from my Gazania (for the time being anyway).

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