UP WITH THOSE BACKYARD SQUIRRELS?
should I write a column about this week," I asked my son as we
sat on the back porch. He looked up from the newspaper he was reading
and glanced at the bird feeder I had filled a few minutes earlier. We
watched a young squirrel slide down the metal pole that was wet from
a recent rain shower.
he said and went back to his newspaper. I watched the squirrel make
a futile last attempt to climb the slippery pole, look over toward me
in what I perceived to be annoyance, and then poke around the yard looking
for seeds on the ground. I decided that reprinting the answer to the
most common question about squirrels I've received over the years would
How do I keep squirrels from eating the birdseed in my backyard feeder?
I can't enjoy the birds because of these little raiders.
Anyone in the eastern United States with a bird feeder knows the gray
squirrel. You put out birdseed to attract the standard neighborhood
birds. But squirrels rather than birds become your primary customers.
Some bird-feeding enthusiasts wage constant combat against these rodents,
seeking ways to make them leave the seeds for the birds.
squirrels to ignore sunflower seeds is a seldom-fulfilled hope. Serious
backyard bird fanciers use many approaches to outsmart squirrels. As
far as I know, none have enjoyed unequivocal long-term success when
squirrels are abundant in a neighborhood. Any given technique may work
at first, but the squirrels eventually win through acrobatics that are
more entertaining to watch than birds pecking at seeds. The extremes
to which these "North American monkeys" will go to reach birdseed
may make you wonder if their real agenda is to show how clever they
are rather than simply to eat.
find alleged squirrel-proof bird feeders for sale here and there. Make
sure you get a money-back guarantee. One device is a battery-operated
feeder that begins spinning when the weight of a squirrel is on the
platform. I have a friend who bought one. The first squirrel was slung
off into the yard, as were the second and the third. Squirrel-watching
began to be fun. Of course, the first plump mourning dove that landed
also got a surprise. But finally a squirrel actually held on long enough
that the battery began to run down, and then of course the birdseed
was easy prey.
squirrel-proof feeder a friend told me about was an attractive little
gabled house with windows and a covered porch for birdseed, something
any respectable songbird with a sense of style would find appealing.
Squirrels lived around the area, but the little house was at the top
of a very tall pole specially designed to keep their kind out.
when I spoke to her, no squirrel had made it up the pole. The next week
a heavy rain came, and she discovered she had lost the battle. She looked
out at the little house to see two squirrels keeping dry under the porch
while a third peered out at the rain from one of the little windows.
She has no idea how they got there.
a mixture of chili pepper and soybean oil in the birdseed is a temporary
solution. The concoction repels squirrels - until the rains come or
it's diluted over time. Ask your local seed and feed dealer about the
latest products designed to outwit the squirrels, including a commercial
conclusion of many experts (an expert in this case being any observer
of animals in the backyard) is that the only effective long-term approach
to the bird feeder problem is to learn to accept the squirrels. If they
are spoiling your enjoyment of birds at your bird feeder, call it a
squirrel feeder and appreciate their antics. Might as well, because
eventually they will find a way to get up even a rain-drenched pole.
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