Fri 6 Feb, 2004 07:44 pm
Butrflynet thought you'd enjoy this story a friend wrote about his bird feeder.
A smarter squirrel seems to be evolving in my backyard. I'm not talking about a squirrel who can build a better home for himself -- I'm speaking about a squirrel who will soon be inventing nuclear power. I'm talking about a squirrel who will soon rule the world if he isn't stopped. I'm talking about a squirrel that has been imbued with the craftiness of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Admiral Nimitz. And he has suddenly come into power during the past year.
One day, David (me) gets it in his mind to put up a birdfeeder. This is something that I do every so often, because I like birds. I do not, however, like squirrels, and I have had significant trouble with squirrels stealing from the birdfeeder in the past. This time, I think, I'll be more careful. I put up a rather nifty birdfeeder -- it has a battery powered "spinning thingy" (in technical terms) on the bottom. What this means: birds can perch on it and eat to their content, but anything as heavy as a squirrel will start it spinning, and the squirrel goes flying off. Quite clever, I think. Also, it is quite fun to play with.
Anyway, said birdfeeder is mounted in the backyard on a pole. For a time, things are good. Birds eat and are happy, no squirrels are observed. It seems that the level of feed is dropping rather rapidly, but maybe I just have a lot of hungry birds in the backyard. I've even observed the squirrels trying to get the feed from the birdfeeder. It is rather amusing to see them hop on, and go flying off as the "thingy" spins. Then one day, I'm reading the morning paper and happen to glance outside. There's a squirrel on the birdfeeder! When I say "on" the birdfeeder, however, I'm actually speaking of him hanging from the birdfeeder. There is an upside-down squirrel hanging from the top of the birdfeeder, devouring the seeds. Obviously, this problem needs to be fixed. Simple solution: grease the top of the pole so the squirrels can't hang there. This is done (with a certain about of glee, I must add).
Unfortunately, I never get a chance to see any squirrels try hanging there, and go sliding off -- this would amuse me greatly. Alas. Then one day, a few weeks later, I see another squirrel eating the food! He is just casually sitting on the "spinny thing" which seems to not be spinning. "Dog! Squirrel!" Now my dog is fairly dumb, but she DOES recognize the word squirrel. She chases the squirrel off within seconds. Side benefit: dog will be entertained for hours now, and doesn't require any "playtime." She'll keep persuing the squirrel for hours, never mind that he's sitting in a tree 20 or 30 feet up. Also, the little scamp is sitting there chattering at me! This squirrel is angry that I've chased him off from the food source! I must say, this is the first time I've ever been lectured at by a squirrel.
I investigate -- it seems as if the battery in the "spinny thingy" has worn down. I should have anticipated this, it's been several weeks. I take some time to recharge it, and put it back out. THREE days later, I see the squirrel eating happily! Once again I chase him off, and retrieve the feeder to recharge the battery. I have no clue why it wore down so quickly -- maybe I need to buy a new battery. I figure I'll time it to see how long it lasts.
A day later, I happen to be looking outside absentmindedly, and I see a squirrel approach the feeder. This squirrel looks somewhat familiar, I think, but all squirrels look somewhat alike. I decide to watch quietly for amusement. The squirrel manages to climb the pole and jumps onto the "spinny thingy" on the bird feeder. It immediately goes into its job and spins frantically. Piture a squirrel hanging onto a spinning "wheel" with his front paws, as he gets wizzed around and around and you may understand why I find this amusing. Inevitably, of course, he goes flying off. I laugh, and think that he's learned his lesson. ...wait a minute! He's coming back! He's climbing again! He's jumping back on, and spinning! Is this a stupid squirrel? He already did it once. And yep, there he goes again! And he's coming back again! And again! Suddenly it dawns on David -- this is why the battery died in three days. This squirrel is smart, and wearing down the battery! Obviously, David has to employ human ingenuity to thwart this squirrel.
Thankfully, I don't have to employ much. A "squirrel shield" came with the birdfeeder. I didn't initially mount it, but I do now. The squirrel shield is basically a downward pointing cone on the pole, so the squirrel can't climb higher than a certain height. I attach the squirrel shield with a fair amount of satisfaction. Three or four days later, guess what? The squirrel is muching the birdfeed. Again. I must admit to a certain abount of puzzlement. Maybe I should watch the feeder more.
After a few days, I see the squirrel. His new method of draining the battery? Jumping. And when I say jumping, I mean jumping. This squirrel has legs that would probably propel him into a Low Earth Orbit if he was so inclined - except that my birdfeeder happens to be in the back yard and not in orbit. This does give rise to a thought -- I bet this guy has siblings that are now mutant space squirrels in orbit, just waiting for the first foolish person to bring birdseed into space. I feel very sorry for the first human to attempt this. Anyway, this squirrel is jumping four feet up with no apparent effort, from a dead stop on the ground. Apparently I have to recharge the battery every few days... inconvenient, but I will not let a squirrel beat me!
This goes on for some time, and I'm not entirly happy with the state of affairs, but at least the squirrel isn't getting any food. On the downside, neither are the birds, because the squirrel is monopolizing the birdfeeder, trying to drain the battery. He leaves if I go outside -- but I'm not spending much time outside in below-freezing weather. Thus, the state of affairs stands for some time.
Then, I notice the feed level dropping rapidly again. I'm not willing to assume that a hoard of hungry birds have arrived... that damned squirrel has figured out a way around me again! I watch and eventually observe the following:
-Ivan the Conquerer (i.e. the squirrel) scampers up to pole that the feeder is on.
-Ivan scampers up pole. Down pole. Up pole. Down pole. Up pole... he can't get past the shield.
-Ivan grabs the "shield" with both front paws and swings on it, like a trapeeze artist. The whole shield is rocking back and fourth in tune with him.
-Ivan lets go and goes soaring up to the birdfeeder.
-Ivan lands with hind legs on "spinny thing" and front paws clasped around the top of the birdfeeder.
-Spinny thing starts spinning.
-Ivan starts "running" sideways frantically on the spinny thing.
-Ivan starts eating birdseed.
I now have a squirrel that is getting a full meal while using my birdfeeder as a treadmill! I must say that I'm not entirely sure how to thwart him now. However, I have the nagging feeling that he'll be in my kitchen making peanut butter sandwiches within a year, and I'll be the one trying to sleep in a tree. Whoever wins the White House had better be wary -- if the national guard isn't dispatched to deal with this threat to humanity soon, it will pass our abilities to deal with.
I now know why Bush wants to renew the space program -- he's trying to buy off this squirrel by sending birdseed into orbit to feed his mutant space squirrel brothers. Good luck -- we're all in trouble if this guy isn't stopped.
Go Cousin Ivan, keep on outsmarting them!
Tell B'flynet to damn well get her tushie back here and post this stuff herself!
Go the squiggles, eh Læknir Scrat???
Squiggle solidarity! An idea whose time has come!
Actually, you people DO realize that you are accelerating the process whereby natural selection operates to favour squirrels of awesome brain power? This could be the next external threat to humankind, for real! Down with the monkeys!
instead of that spinning thingy, I have a better idea thhat will remove the squirrel in a rapid fashion . The spinning thingy (ST hereinafter) as a series of circular rods which make a series of wheel rims. Merely connetc a wire to an inner wheel, a similar wire of an opposite but equal pole, to the outer wheelrim. Now the spokes that connect the 2 wheels must , be removed and plastic spokes installed . The reason for that will become obvious. Take the two wires and splice their ends to a long outdoor extension chord.
Fill up the bird feeder and hang it by its normal hanging thingy . plug the extension chord into an outdoor socket and , presto , squirrel problem is a thing of the past.
You See, the birds will only sit on one of the rims while the squirrel, aiming to acquire a more stable foothold, will grab onto both wheels of the former ST and thus close the circuit.
Im gonna patent this bird feeder, call it Old Smokey. A meal for the birds and some Brunswick stew for the owner
Farmerman, the world's squirrels think you are an evil Frankenstein.
and I think that they are furry cockroaches
squirrel-proof bird feeders
A friend recommended this bird feeder saying it prevented the squirrels in her rural area from getting into the bird seed.
Which side are you on, BBB? The side of sanity or Farmerstein's?
dlowan is correct. We, the squirrels with awesome brain power, shall rule the world.
Of course, we'll share it with understanding humans, while we drive nuts Evil Farmerstein and his thinkalikes.
Al-Squirrelea is out to get you, Farmerman!
Now, BBB... have you made up your mind? Which side are you on?
Læknir Scrat, I be a sheep---where ever the wabbit goes, go I too.
My Dad electrified a feeder once, but it wasn't fancy like Farmerman's. We'd just wait for a squirrel to hop on and then plug it in. The sparks (and squirrels) truly flew.
Ahh, you've acquired one of my "trained" squirrels. I, too, had a Yankee Flipper (and prior unsuccesful feeders) that worked until a little fuzzy four footed Einstein figured out all the tricks. He was so good, and entrepreneurial to boot, that he started teaching classes to neighborhood squirrels, who took turns practicing their lessons on my feeder. (They learned that going round and round was not only fun, but it shook seed to the ground.)
After "graduating," several squirrels had small suitcases (full of my birdseed) and started traveling around the US, spreading the word how easy it is to foil us dumb humans. Alas, your mission to defeat the squirrels is hopeless. You would do better in an arena of hungry lions than to think you can ever keep a squirrel out of a bird feeder!
PS I enjoyed your article and relate to every word.
Them squirrels are smart even if they live on nuts.
I put my bird feeder atop a pole squirrels cannot climb. It is far enough from any tree that the squirrel cannot leap to the feeder. The birdseed lasts a long time, now. But, I put peanuts, cracked corn and sunflower seeds out, so, the squirrels don't really need to get up there.
Reminds me of the lady who runs our nature center. They are strictly forbidden to feed the deer on the theory that it makes them dangerously tame. She can still put out food for the birds, though. Remarkably, the deer seem to enjoy grain as well as the birds, and the posts they place the stuff on are just about right for adult deer.
We have lots of deer.