If you tune into my blog posts regularly then you know how I feel about squirrels, aka my backyard/birdfeeder/garden/potted plants nemeses. Since initiating this weekly blog back in February, 2013, my posts on the subject have been numerous. None of them laud the furry beasts' skill at gaining access to every birdfeeder invented, manufactured and sold to hopeful bird enthusiasts. The sole exception is one that accompanied a video showing how the "Flipper", manufactured by the Droll Yankee company, gives a wannabe thieving squirrel a wild ride when it jumps onto the feeding perch. Entertaining to be sure. And the feeder does successfully dump the wily critters on their furry backsides, none too gracefully, making the viewing all the more entertaining.
However. Oh yes, there is always a However when you think you've been clever enough to deceive or discourage a squirrel.
The birdfeeder, while living up to the claim off flinging squirrels off feeding perches, can do nothing to inhibit a creature that removes said feeder from its hanging spot without jumping on the thing. I discovered this several weeks ago when I awoke one morning to my feeder being absent from its tree limb perch. My first thought was that the limb had broken and the feeder had fallen. Not so. The limb was intact, feeder not visible. Couldn't have blown off, I thought. No storms or heavy winds the night before. I search for the feeder, find it mannnyyyy yards from its designated place, under a bush.
Hm. Big squirrel with big muscles enjoying a bit of an evening workout? Using the feeder as a swing? Partying with another squirrel? All unlikely, but whatever. I want to feed the birds, so refilling and rehanging I go only to find the feeder limb bare yet again the next morning. Found it in a different clump of bushes.
At this juncture I'm tempted to buy a motion activated camera and rig it up outside, aimed at the feeder to find out who's taking it down. Stands to reason it's a) tree climber, b) nocturnal and c) thinks it's too clever to get caught. Before I go too far with the camera idea, however, I mention my plight to some neighbors. All give me knowing looks as they nod and say: Raccoon.
Well, isn't this just super. Couldn't be happier having to battle not only squirrels but Rocky Raccoon as well.
A feeling that lasted until 7:12 a.m. the next morning when I leaped from my bed, looked out the window to the backyard, prepared to feel triumphant only to gape at the empty birdfeeder branch. My verbiage selection was...flamboyant. And all this before morning tea. That annoyed me; that I was letting a raccoon who was running up a hefty tab on my Audobon Wildbird Seed account ruin the beginning of a beautiful day.
Once more, a hunting-I-went for my birdfeeder which was at a much greater distance from the other occasions it had been taken without my permission. As I stomped back to the house feeling foolishly outwitted by a Procyon lotor, I had an abrupt AHA! moment. I was going about this all wrong. Trying to keep the thing from taking the feeder isn't what I needed to do: keeping it from GETTING to the feeder was. I didn't Google possibilities, didn't research Keep off My Feeder contraptions. The logical answer to making the feeder unapproachable, (short of a method that would permanently reduce Missouri's raccoon population by one), was to make it painful to get there.
Barbed wire. That's what came to mind. Not having any on hand, I "made" my own. Should you want to as well....
Wearing heavy duty work gloves, with wire cutters, cut out a 12" wide by 16" long strip from some common garden wire fencing, or whatever length that will cover the what you hang the feeder on. I have a 16" long wrought iron pole that is attached to the tree.
Still keeping on those heavy duty work gloves, carefully shape the strip around the object the feeder will hang from. Snip apart corners of the squares the full length of the strip. Every other square, interlock a snipped wire to one on the opposite side and twist, thereby anchoring the wires to each other.
Snip the remaining junctures of the non-interlocked wires and bend them outward in a random pattern, making sure there are "spikes" the entire length of the wire cage. No bare spaces for the raccoon to tip-toe over.
---The finished product: crude, rather medieval and barbaric looking but guess what?