Sunday, March 25, 2007

Squirrel proofing the bird feeders...Ha!

We used to have a "squirrel-proof" birdfeeder. It had a cantilevered perch that would cover the seed when a heavy rodent would climb aboard and gorge on black oil sunflower seed. Of course the clever beasts discovered that they could hang on the side and reach into the opening avoiding the perch. One day I was startled when a mouse climbed out of the seed when I was refilling the device. I spent a couple of weekends adding fishing sinkers to fine tune the weight of the tripping mechanism. Icing was a definite problem , because squirrels are natural meteorologists and understand that a frozen lever does not move. A couple of roaming bears, attracted by the smell of oil seed, decided that the best approach was to tear the damn thing apart.

I decided on a different approach using hanging metal mesh baskets with a clever name of "No-No" or something. The squirrels like to hang on these, sucking the seed through the mesh I assume. Originally I had them on a metal pole, which was bent to the ground by more marauding bears. The mesh held up pretty well to the bear attack, just a few teeth marks in the metal rain guard. I also discovered that roman candles will deter bears from feeding.

I tried suspending the feeders between 2 trees at a height that hopefully out of the reach of all but the tallest bears. Everything was fine for a couple of months, but finally an especially acrobatic squirrel appeared and managed to walk along the 10 feet rope. It was awesome to watch, he (or she) would take careful steps using his (or her) tail for fine balance correction. Even more distressing was that this squirrel gave lessons to the other squirrels and soon it was a regular high wire act.

The picture that I have posted shows my latest (and greatest) attempt yet. I have a series of washers, computer CD's, and light weight aluminum tubing covering the rope. I'm not positive it will stop the raids, but it will be fun to watch their attempts.