Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fun with Squirrels

I may have found the simplest ever way to discourage squirrels. I usually don't mind letting the squirrels share the birdfood. But Monday night I was annoyed when eight squirrels dominated the feeders in the early evening while birds lined up in surrounding trees waiting for a chance at the food. So, when I went inside at 7:00 I took the tube feeders with me.

The next morning the eight squirrels were there feeding on the ground. I'm sure they would have been in the platform feeder but it was empty. The birds still had access to one tube feeder (which is surrounded by a squirrel proof cage) and the suet feeders which hang in a hawthorn whose thorns discourage the squirrels. By late morning the squirrels were all gone. So I rehung the feeders expecting to have to take them down again by evening. The birds promptly returned. But surprisingly the squirrels did not.

I really didn't expect the squirrels to stay away. So, at Agway later that day, I bought one of those spinning things. Tuesday evening the squirrels still weren't back but I assembled the spinning thing anyway and put it up Wednesday morning. Wednesday evening we sat on the deck eagerly awaiting the circus we expected when the squirrels inevitably returned. But, again surprisingly, no squirrels. Thursday one kind of ratty squirrel showed up to feed on the platform feeder but wasn't tempted at all by the tube feeder with the new spinning mechanism. Friday and Saturday, still just the one ratty squirrel.

But this morning, there they were. All eight squirrels - maybe more - lined up waiting for a turn on the merry-go-round. While the one ratty squirrel diligently ate from the platform feeder, the others, one at a time, each ran across the bar over the platform feeder to reach the merry-go-round. Each one in its turn gingerly stretched down trying to reach past the spinning mechanism to get a grip on the tube feeder. Each one would just make it as the feeder started to spin slowly. As the spinning speeds up, the squirrel wraps his or her legs around the feeder and tries vainly to hold on. One tried valiantly to climb back up to the bar but failed and plopped to the ground like all the others.

The instructions with the merry-go-round warned that batteries might wear down quickly at first because of the squirrels experimenting. I had missed the beginning of the show, but it went on for about fifteen minutes before abruptly all the squirrels except the one on the platform feeder ran off. I'll be curious to see if that particular group is satisfied that they can't actually get anything to eat at that feeder.

So, I'm not sure I recommending the spinning thing, except for entertainment value. But I'm pretty sure I can keep most squirrels away by taking down the feeders for a few hours once a week.


KAZ said...

I'd love to see a picture of the merry-go-round. We have the same issues with squirrels. (Doesn't everyone?)

leendaluu said...

This has nothing to do with squirrels or spinning...well, on second thought, my world is spinning with recent events. Just wanted to let you know that the heifer calved. We have lots of fresh white beverage (that's code so NY*S Agg and Mkt*s doesn't shut me down) ;-) Happy to send some via B.

Linda T.