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6th Apr, 2004

There is now a seed-feeder hanging in sight of our kitchen window. It is designed to make life difficult for squirrels, but difficult is not impossible. Our resident (gray) squirrel hangs by his hind feet from the bar above, and snatches and eats seeds from the edge of the feeder.
So, since the seeds are actually intended for birds, once in a while we chase him (or her) away.
Yesterday when Meriol chased him he chose to run next door, up to the roof ridge, thirty feet or more off the ground, where he sat for a few moments displaying a classic Tufty profile against the sky. This I have seen before. But then something happened I have not seen before. A bird - I think a young starling - flew from the chimney pot straight at the squirrel, and drove him from his ridge tile. And then again from his resting place on the gutter, and again from the flat roof of the extension, until the squirrel was driven from the house altogether.
The starling is better at chasing him off than we are: he was back on the bird feeder within half an hour, but I haven't seen him climb next door's roof since.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
purpletigron
6th Apr, 2004 03:53 (UTC)
Heh. The starling may have the instinct to protect nest but not food?
the_gardener
6th Apr, 2004 03:55 (UTC)
If our experience is any guide, you'll never be able to get rid of the squirrel: it's there because there's a squirrel-shaped niche in the local eco-system, supported by a ready source of food. (Indeed, you may well have helped create the niche!) The best you can do is adapt to it, perhaps as we did: dedicate one feeder for the squirrel, filling it with peanuts rather than seed; and provide seed in a caged hanging feeder to which only the birds can have access. (There are various models available; have a look, should you be interested in pursuing this further, at those available from CJ WildBird Foods, our supplier of choice.) This seems to have worked for us.
purpletigron
6th Apr, 2004 04:19 (UTC)
Selective feeding
Ah! We're in the middle of trying to select bird-feeders for our squirrel-infested garden. So you find that a 'sacrificial feeder' of peanuts discourages the squirrels from trying to break into the caged feeding system? Doesn't this encourage a larger squirrel population?
Can you recommend any particular 'squirrel-friendly' nut holders, and 'squirrel-hostile' seed holders? And is there anywhere which sells affordable organic nuts and seeds?

I've been seriously considering the alternative - which also avoids the problem whereby I forget to re-fill the feeder - of planting 'bird food perennials' around the garden. Do birds like buddleia seed, for example? I can't see a squirrel gorging itself on a buddleia bush...
the_gardener
6th Apr, 2004 04:52 (UTC)
Re: Selective feeding
I can't see a squirrel gorging itself on a buddleia bush

I can -- squirrels are omnivorous, and will eat all the buds and flowers out of your garden if there's nothing else to hand. It's happened to us!

As to whether putting up a dedicated squirrel feeder encourages a larger squirrel population....well, yes, it does, and you'll witness some right royal territorial battles as they try to chase each other off from what each considers as "their" feeding station. (Particularly in the autumn, when the mothers turn their offspring out of the drays to fend for themselves.) Whatever type of caged or uncaged feeders you settle for, however (CJ WildBird Foods is my supplier of choice, for feeders as well as feed, although I don't think their feed is classed as organic under Soil Association standards), make sure they're of metal construction. Plastic ones will be gnawed to shreds in no time.
purpletigron
6th Apr, 2004 05:54 (UTC)
Re: Selective feeding
(coth, do tell us if you'd rather we weren't having this party at your place :-)

will eat all the buds and flowers out of your garden

Oh, phoeey. The squirrels at our old place didn't come into our garden out of the park... Any guidance on what birds prefer and squirrels dis-prefer? If not, two metal feeders, one squirrel-soft, the other squirrel-tough, and bags of feed it is...

CJ WildBird Foods is my supplier of choice

So, what led you to choose them?
the_gardener
6th Apr, 2004 06:17 (UTC)
Re: Selective feeding
Probably nothing more than that their catalogue happened to be to hand when we first thought of purchasing bird feed. They don't do everything -- I buy fat products from Jacobi Jayne -- but they gave me a customer number and I've stuck with them ever since.
coth
16th Apr, 2004 07:17 (UTC)
We saw the squirrel regularly over the winter, so the squirrel-shaped niche was certainly there before I hung the seed feeder, which was put up for the first time in early February. The Gardman peanut feeder hanging in the cherry tree, which is a metal-mesh plastic cylinder inside a metal-mesh sphere, has been there for over a year and is absolutely squirrel proof. The new seed feeder is also Gardman, but its design - plastic cylinder inside metal-mesh cylinder - does not seem to be quite so squirrel-proof. The seeds fall out of 3 small windows in the plastic to a little ledge, and the squirrel can take seeds from the little ledge. I have now rehung the seed feeder so the squirrel can't hang by his hind feet. I'll let you know what happens if/when I ever see it try again.
la_marquise_de_
6th Apr, 2004 07:26 (UTC)
We have clever blue jays, who intimidate our squirrels, at least a little, just by hanging round looking pointy. The bird feeder is too small for the jays to use in the normal way, but they hang upside down from the branch above and thus get their beaks in. Or they sit on a lower branch and encourage it to bounce up and down.
Having two cats also helps discourage squirrels -- but it discourages the birds, too, if the cats come too near the feeder. Mooncat knows this and has given up, but Iskander still tends to sit under the feeder looking baffled -- *where* are all the flying snacks?
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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Caroline M

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