Sunday, May 10, 2009

Squirrel Wars

(Or, How A Little Fuzzy Grey Mammal Shouldn't Be Smarter Than Humans, But Is)

I am in the midst of that great perennial battle--Human vs. Squirrel. Several years ago, when my husband and I bought our house, I was big-eyed with dreams of turning my backyard into a miniature nature preserve. I set out a nice new (standard hopper-style) bird feeder expecting to see all the pretty birds show up to eat and to listen to their tweets and chirps over my morning coffee.

No dice. Grey Squirrel shows up, pops the top off my feeder, eats the whole batch in two days.

Okay, I said. Let's try something different. I bought a tube-style feeder and a pole, and some suet cages.

No dice. Grey Squirrel shows up, knocks down the tube feeder, opens it, eats everything. Just for good measure, he opens the suet cages and eats that too.

Hmm. Not to be denied, I re-hang the feeder and suet cages, using floral wire to keep the cages shut and the feeder on the hook.

This time he breaks the wire and gets everything anyway--suet, birdseed, my pride, you name it.

Okay, you fuzzy little guerrilla birdseed eater, I'm gonna fix your wagon. I went to the hardware store and bought a few of those single chain-links that you have to screw shut. NOW the little monster can eat my suet, but at least he can't open the cages and gulp it down in one day. It takes him a few, but hey, I'll take what I can get at this point. Try that on for size, Mr. No-Opposable-Thumbs!

On to the feeders. I like goldfinches, and this little bugger's not gonna keep me goldfinch-less. I find a cone-shaped thistleseed feeder that's made of steel and heavy-duty screen wire. The birds can cling right to it to munch away. A-ha! GS leaves it alone! I get pretty yellow birdies! (Maybe he just doesn't like thistleseed.)

Okay, I said. What about the other feeder? I dispense with the tube feeder and blow a chunk of change on a squirrel-resistant hopper feeder that slams shut when GS's weight plunks on it. Hooray! It works! More birdies! Then one day I see GS hanging upside-down from the feeder roof and chomping merrily away at what's in the pan. Arggh. "Resistant." Not "proof." Well, we're aiming for almost perfect anyway now.

Then, hoping for some different birds, I try adding a wire basket-style feeder that you fill with sunflower seed. GS is showing signs of being Houdini reincarnated now. Two days after hanging it, he has figured out how to unhook the lid latches, flip the thing open, and chow down on the contents. And he got on his little squirrel Blackberry and texted his pals, because now there are three of them.


I am now trying a feeder that claims to be squirrel-proof. It says so right on the box, and there's a picture of smiling people and lots of birdies flitting around the contraption. It's a tube feeder with a cage around it, so GS can't stick his head in there and suck down my sunflower seeds like a furry little vacuum cleaner.

I am not convinced.

There is a flaw in this lovely design. The top, which they claim "locks," just sets down on the top of the tube--somewhat snugly, but you see where I am going with this. There is no padlock on this sucker. And I think GS might be working out how to mutate his little paws into something with opposable thumbs at this very moment.

I will keep you posted. But if you hear screaming, it's me, overrun by Squirrelfest.


  1. LOL. That's one smart squirrel, Nikki. I think he'll find a way in. Why not set up a camera and skyp him and his buds eating the bird's treats ?:0)


  2. You need this:

    to send them to the people next door!