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Smarter Than the Average Squirrel

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Sometimes I feel that the squirrels are winning. No matter how hard I try, they figure out most of the squirrel proof solutions. The latest is one of those feeders that they are managing to empty by hanging a certain way on it.

We have gone to great lengths to keep them from the bird seed, giving them corn and peanuts but trying to keep them from the woodpeckers’ favorite treats.

This arrangement gives them the cheapest suet I can find, and they have to work for it. They get corn, but if you don’t wedge it in, they run off with the entire ear of corn. My neighbors find the entertainment of a squirrel trying to carry an entire ear of corn to their nest in the old oak trees amusing, but it is expensive to put corn out there every few hours. I usually only feed the squirrels in the winter, and let them fend for themselves when the ground is full of nuts and seeds.

This feeder is truly squirrel proof. The good seed goes here, with the vitamins and minerals the birds need while raising their young. I have had to move it twice, though. Once, it was too close to the bird bath. The second time it was too close to the yucca and deck seats. Squirrels will jump quite far to grab that bar and get the good stuff. Even risking impalement on a yucca tree.

The squirrels do provide entertainment to us too. They know how to descend a ladder quite quickly when startled.

Even the hummingbird feeder isn’t safe.

They scrounge around where the birds push unwanted items out of the feeder on the pole, at least keeping it somewhat clean, but I usually get volunteer plants and weeds coming up where I don’t want them.

When we moved in, we had a lovely cedar feeder out there. The previous owners had dogs, so no squirrels. It lasted just a few months before they chewed through the wood. They will chew on the plastic too, so now we have metal feeders with metal lids and as many baffles as I can manage.

The double baffle works, as does the witches hat over the nuts for the woodpeckers.

Of course, the woodpeckers go where they want, and not always to their little feeder.

I now cram two small suet holders into the large one. Put them at an angle to minimize the area that the squirrels can reach into and grab suet. It doesn’t totally stop them but it slows them down considerably.

I have created a habitat here to keep the birds that assist us in having my garden lush and relatively bug and flying insect free. They have coniferous trees for nests. Water, heated in the winter. A constant source of food, including insect suet when they are feeding their young. We have lots of trees and bushes that produce berries. I leave the pokeweed in the meadow so they can feed from it.

We have lots of worms, good for the soil and for the robins (and their allies).

Of course, they also need to learn how to play nice around here. Looks like a little mom and pop spat going on here.

At least the robins and cedar waxwings get along.

So I put up with the squirrels, knowing that a dog will keep them away, but also impact the birds. Who needs the Discovery Channel when all this excitement goes on, right outside the kitchen window?

About AnnieRie

Retired, I am following my dream of living in quiet west Howard County, a rural oasis, not far from the urban chaos, but just far enough. I love to cook, bake, garden, and travel. I volunteer at Howard County Conservancy. I lead nature hikes, manage programs and show children all the wonders of nature, and the agricultural connection to their food.

6 responses »

  1. attemptinggreen

    What a beautiful pic of the bluebird! You are so lucky to have one visit your feeders.

    • Thanks, we have had as many as four. The secret. Heated water in the winter.

      When I am the only water source in town, it is amazing what we get. I have had a dozen cedar waxwings there. And robins.

      It was the best investment I made for the birds. A thermostatically controlled pad, a heating pad.

  2. Beautiful! We have cats and I have a hard time with feeding or not feeding the birds. I have decided not to feed because of the cats. I do have two bird baths that are filled all year round (not a real need for heated water here) I have a lot of wrens, chickadees, 2 sets of Mr. & Mrs. cardinals and woodpeckers around all the time. The wrens are in the garden helping me out a lot. My neighbors feed the birds so I know they have food all year round. I am glad to see the birds in the garden. I just don’t want to see my cats present them on my front door step.

    • My next door neighbor’s cat never bothered the birds. He was a mouser. We lost him a few years ago. The kitties over there don’t bother the feeders either. We both feed the hummingbirds. They flit back and forth from yard to yard.

  3. I agree. We’ve got a wildlife garden as well, plus a window feeder (safflower only – so no squirrels) for the kids to watch from our kitchen table. Truly entertaining! In fact, years ago I came home from work (teaching) on the last day of school, I was completely drained from the stuff I’d been coordinating, and I wound up spending an entire day just watching the action at the birdfeeder and birdbath to unwind.
    I am going to have to try that heated birdbath trick!

  4. Lovely photos. I especially love the one of the squirrel running down the ladder!


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