You Dirty Little Rats

Our first summer on the property (2006) we bought a bird feeder.  Seems like a “must” when you move from the city to the country, right?  We hung the feeder in a tree outside the kitchen window and kept a Field Guide to Eastern Birds within easy reach.   At first, the Guide wasn’t necessary because all we got were squirrels who ate all the seed.

Easy Fix – we cobbled together a feeder stand with a crusty old pole, and a plant hanger left behind by the previous owners.  We hammered it into the grass a few feet away from the trees.  But squirrels can jump and they got in the feeder and ate all the seed.

Again, not a problem – we simply moved the pole further away from the tree.  The squirrels didn’t realize we moved the pole so we were entertained as we watched the squirrels jump from the tree, miss the feeder, fall to the ground and try again.

But squirrels also climb so it wasn’t long before they climbed the pole and ate all the seed.

Next I greased the pole with vaseline – TAKE THAT! – but the squirrels proceeded to eat the vaseline, climb the pole and eat all the seed.

It was time to install a squirrel guard on the pole – and because in the country, if you can make it out of scraps (and not spend a dime), this is what you do – I crafted a squirrel guard out of a 2 liter soda bottle, and put rubber bands around the pole to prevent the bottle from sliding down.

We watched for a few days as the squirrels climbed the pole, pushed the bottle up with their heads as high as it would go, and then trapped inside, they would push with their hands on the green plastic ceiling.  My design wasn’t perfect – so what if the bottle moved –  the feeder was safe.  Victory was mine!

Wrong again.  The squirrels figured out if they climbed the pole just to the bottom of the bottle, and stuck their head out far enough, they could push the soda bottle up with their shoulders and then hop onto the feeder and eat all the seed.

I put more rubber bands on the pole above the bottle so the bottle would remain stationary, and do you know what those dirty little rats did next???  They ATE a path up the side of the bottle until they could jump up on the feeder and eat all the seed.

We were losing the battle, so we broke down and spent the ten bucks on a plastic disk/shield that slides down around the pole and is specifically designed to keep squirrels out.

We kept filling that bird feeder with seed for four years but we got tired of the Blue Jays and Grackles bullying the smaller birds and knocking the majority on the ground… so the squirrels could eat all the seed.

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