|Feeder Enemy #1|
Last month, I wrote that a gang of marauding squirrels had deemed my bird feeders to be their personal fiefdom. They would shamelessly scamper up the three slender poles in my back yard to wantonly attack the five suet, seed, and worm feeders that hung from those poles. While overwintering birds watched helplessly, the squirrels (Latin name: Sciurus carolinensis, which translates as ‘rats with bushy tails’) would gorge themselves on sunflower seed. One even made off with a hamburger-sized chunk of suet. My solution, I wrote, was to oil the poles; a process that had to be repeated every few days.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive dozens of emails from readers offering advice. A few also admonished me for blatantly favoring avians over phyla mammalia. I responded to the latter group by underscoring that I had specifically purchased ‘bird’ feeders.
But I was excited by the reader suggestions for varmint-proofing my feeders. Many were commercial products. Two readers touted something called the Yankee Flipper, which incorporates a free-spinning base that takes any squirrel that jumps from a pole onto it for a ride akin to something that belongs in an amusement park. Target carries them for $24.99, but I noticed two things in the video I watched. First, as the feeder spun round and round, it also spewed out a sizeable serving of seeds. The second, and perhaps more disturbing finding from viewing the product in action was that the squirrel appeared to be enjoying itself. It hung on for half a dozen rotations and I would swear it was grinning.
|Plexiglas works, but at a high cost|
Plexiglas domes also figured strongly into reader suggestions. The idea is simple: the dome hangs over the feeder. The squirrel climbs a tree, drops down onto the dome and cannot gain a foothold. After half a dozen tries, it adjusts to the new reality of a seed-free diet. Simple domes start at about $15 although, for reasons I cannot fathom, they also are sold for twice and three timer that amount. But the operative word at the top of this paragraph is ‘tree’. Plexiglas-covered feeders mounted on a pole are child’s play to your average squirrel: they just jump the few inches from the pole to the feeder, then scarf down a pound of seed while being protected against the rain.Clearly, for a pole-mounted feeder to work, the squirrel has to be kept from getting up the pole in the first place. One reader suggested a product with the imposing name of the Stokes Select 38023 Squirrel Baffle. It’s a simple device: a conical metal ‘hat’ that rests on a disc tightened to fit around the pole. I was impressed but, at $13 each, I would be spending $40 to protect my feeders. Was there a less expensive solution?
|Squirrels are natural acrobats|
|My 7 cent solution|
Yesterday, Betty and I consumed another bottle of seltzer to protect a second pole and I thoroughly oiled the third one. As of this morning, only birds are enjoying the seed, suet, and worms.At least for the moment, we have found a solution to our squirrel problem for just seven cents a feeder. I think even Sherlock Holmes would approve.