Battling the Ninja Squirrels

In the beginning, there was a thistle sock for the finches,

Thistle Sock Feeder, 17 March 2010

Goldfinch on Thistle Sock, 17 April 2010

and sunflower seed for the cardinals and chickadees and nuthatches and their friends,

Cardinal, 18 March 2010

and suet for the woodpeckers, all hung on a double hook on the deck.

Woodpecker, 14 February 2011

Shepherd's Crook with Bird Feeders, 10 April 2010

View of Deck, 6 May 2010

And the hungry birds came and ate, through bright spring and summer and damp and dreary winter and autumn.  The birds were happy and well fed and grateful,

Goldfinch waiting for a turn, 16 March 2010

Titmouse waiting for a turn, 19 May 2011

Finch, 6 August 2010

especially when it snowed.

Dark Eyed Junco, 28 January 2011

Dark Eyed Junco, 28 January 2011

Carolina Wren, 28 January 2011

The Gardener, her Chief of Implementation and their offspring admired the birds and filled the feeders and took many pictures.  But the suet disappeared faster than it could be replaced and so did the sunflower seeds, for there was a snake in the garden.

Snake, 5 June 2011

The snake wasn’t any problem, at all, but it’s a great picture.  There was a figurative snake — SOMEONE who gobbled up sunflower seeds and suet, someone with fur and not feathers or scales.

Thieving Squirrel, 4 April 2010

Thieving Squirrel, 4 April 2010

Exhausted Squirrel, 6 August 2010

(I think that squirrel is exhausted from stealing seeds all summer long.)  So the Gardener in the Woods plotted to foil the thieves.  She added hot pepper flakes to the sunflower seeds, but the thieves were undeterred.

She bought hot pepper suet, and won her first battle.

She bought a squirrel proof feeder and the thieves tore at until the seed flowed out like water.

She bought a squirrel baffle, but the squirrels weren’t.

She bought a squirrel feeder, and the squirrels ate that along with the sunflowers and suet.

While the squirrels were on the deck during the second year of battle, they discovered the tomato plants in window boxes on the deck and ate all the tomatoes too, so the Gardener in the Woods had no fresh, home grown tomatoes in 2011.

This wasn’t all the trouble in the paradise that is the Garden in the Woods.  There was someone else, someone who thought birds were delicious.

Semper, Helping the Pansies Grow, 18 April 2011

So the Gardener in the Woods conceived a grand device after consulting her wizard, who is called Internet Research.

 

For those of you who are laughing, this is a MUCH BETTER picture than the original sketch.  The original sketch and explanation were, fortunately, understandable to the Chief of Implementation.  His comment was, “I think you’ll see Ninja Squirrels executing bird seed missions.”

So the Gardener in the Woods batted her eyelashes, and the Chief of Implementation climbed ladders and drilled holes and screwed in hooks and bought confusing hardware, and looked strong and muscular and handsome doing it all.  There were several revisions to the design of the grand marvelous device.  First the Gardener realized the number of bottles between feeders needed to be two for esthetic reasons.  Then the Gardener realized the plan did not take into consideration the logistics of refilling feeders 20 or 30 feet above the ground.  After extensive revision, the final device was thus:

 
 

And the Gardener rested from her labors.

Photo credits for all wildlife pictures go to my daughter who posts at http://cricketwerks.tumblr.com/

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10 Comments

Filed under Gardening

10 responses to “Battling the Ninja Squirrels

  1. Krissy

    FABULOUS !

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  2. This is amazing – your plan is brilliant!!! I’m amazed at the simplicity of it. (Kudos to the Chief of Implementation for his efforts here, btw.) How is it working so far? How ARE you going to refill those feeders?

    We are lucky that the feral cats we take care of scare away any squirrels. In the 18 months we’ve lived here, I’ve literally seen a squirrel twice – and both times it was only at the perimeter of the yard. They won’t come near my feeders or tomatoes because of the cats! And because we feed the cats well, I guess they just aren’t hungry and so aren’t as inclined to go after birds. I’ve seen a few lame attempts by them to climb a tree to reach a feeder, but those birds are long gone before the cat even makes the first leap up to the tree.

    I’m eager for a report on how your system is working! Hopefully all squirrels (and fat cats) will be foiled!

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    • Aimee,
      It’s been very successful at foiling the squirrels. It’s just too far to jump, and the soda bottles really do spin easily enough to throw them off. It’s a little harder to see the birds clearly, but totally worth it for them to be fairly safe and have a squirrel free food supply.
      We’ve got filling the feeders worked out, as of, um, yesterday. It took a couple of iterations, but at this point we have a red cable running through everything that’s fixed onto hooks at both ends. The pop bottles have a hole drilled in the bottom and spin freely and slide back and forth. The feeders are hooked onto pulleys which are threaded onto the cable and roll along it with a little encouragement.
      There’s also a slightly narrower silver cable that’s loose at both ends threaded through all the bottles and pulleys. After extensive experimentation, it turns out it works best with both cables threaded through the same hole of each pulley. If you squint at the picture you can convince yourself you see two cables. The loose silver cable is hooked onto the red cable with a dog clip at the end farther away from the deck.
      To refill the feeders, I pull on the silver cable and drag the whole arrangement above the deck to unhook and refill the feeders. It turns out that a rake is VERY useful for dragging things that are just out of reach and sticking a little big. Then I reverse the process and push the whole arrangement across the cable away from the deck.

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      • Oh my gosh. Wow. I’m kind of speechless over here, and utterly amazed. That is a heck of a lot of work to go to to feed the birds, and I so appreciate your willingness to do it so that they have a safe place to fuel up! Incredible! That rake is going to get a workout! 🙂

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      • Honestly Aimee, it got to the point where it was more about getting the d@%# thing to WORK than about feeding the birds. I thought of you when I looked out the window and saw about half a dozen birds feeding today though.

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  3. Hahaha! I hear you on being determined to make something work – especially when you’ve put so much time and thought and effort into it. Glad you persevered!

    By the way, I nominated you for a blogging award that has been circulating…details about it are in my latest post. You can do what you want (or not) with it, no matter to me. I’ve just been enjoying your blog and hope to encourage more people to come visit it. 🙂

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  4. timelesslady

    Your photographs of the birds are amazing. Your plan is too. I have the same problems with the tomatoes. After also doing internet research, this Christmas I bought a couple packs of red christmas ball. I am going to smear these with what I hope is horrible smelling/tasting goo and hang on the tomato vines before they set fruit. I read that the squirrels will be fooled by this…fingers crossed. Love your blog.

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    • My daughter gets credit for all the wildlife photos. She’s got both an amazing camera and an amazing eye.
      Please leave a know to let me know how the squirrel ornaments work for you. I’ve got tomatoes planned for this year…
      Thanks so much for stopping by and following!

      Like

  5. Timeless Lady, my friend uses red christmas ball ornaments on her tomato plants to fool the birds! While it doesn’t work 100% for her, I think it definitely cuts down on their attacks…so hopefully it will work for the squirrels too. 🙂

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