Friday, May 17, 2013

You've Got to be Smarter than the Squirrel!

We love our birds here, and have two feeders up for them.  We do have multiple hummingbird feeders up, and they're humming with life this time of year.   For the seed eating birds, we have settled on two special kinds of feeders, and they're constantly busy with a wonderful assortment of finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers large and small, juncos, cardinals, rose breasted grosbeaks and the occasional Baltimore Oriole, and lots of wrens and purple finches. 

 We feed only black oil sunflower seeds and both feeders have small openings, so that only smallish birds can feed there.   One has a spring loaded top and when a heavier bird or squirrel lands on it, it sags down to block the openings completely.   The other feeder is a two liter pop bottle, with a metal part screwed onto the top.   Fill it with seeds, and mount it on a tall slim pipe, and it's just perfect for two birds at a time to feed.   Perfect, that is, until the squirrels figured out how to shimmy up the pole and rob the feeder.  Then they'd hang by the tiny perch and gobble all the expensive feed in a few minutes and cheat the birds out of their meal entirely.

We've gone through many versions of these feeders, before finally finding solutions that worked.    Jim made a stovepipe sleeve for the pipe that hangs down and blocks the squirrel from climbing the pole.    This was great until recently, when the ultimate squirrel moved into the neighborhood.    First, he went down the rope onto the hanging feeder, pulled off the lid and swiped 3 pounds of seed in one helping.  I got better at screwing the lid on tight and stopped that problem.

Then it climbed the back of a chair, launched itself through the air, came to rest on top of the stovepipe on the pole, and again, emptied the feeder in no time flat.    We moved the chair away, and he used a nearby tree for his aerial act.   Moved the pole and hammered it down into the ground again and it slipped down enough that he could get to it from the ground!  Dinner last night was a frustrating experience, as we watched that squirrel leap up for a snack before we chased him away, over and over.

So, last night, Jim raised the stovepipe blocker, moved the chair further away, and we ate dinner in peace, while watching that nutty robber try his best to get to the goodies.    He'd troll under the feeder, look up and bob his head up and down to gauge the distance, then launch himself in a huge leap, only to miss by mere inches and crash to the ground.    He'd get up, shake himself, twitch his tail in anger and stalk away, only to reappear minutes later up the tree, only to try again, and again and again.   For about two hours tonight, that squirrel tried every angle to get to that feeder.   I couldn't get any pictures of his aerobatics, he was moving too fast for that, but I did get other pictures.   Cute little guy, when he's not being a thief.

We finished dinner and sat across the room, to talk about tomorrow's plans, only to see motion out of the corner of our eye, as this flying marauder tried the target from yet another angle, without success.   If we didn't see it, we'd hear his failure, as he hit the stovepipe baffle and sent it ringing like a bell, against the supporting post.

In the growing darkness, we saw him trolling the spilled seeds on the ground, still twitching his tail in anger, and now and then standing up to chatter his disgust at his failure to gain the easy pickings.    Hopefully he doesn't figure it out, there's not much else we can do to deter this audacious robber, but he sure is entertaining to watch.

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