Saturday, April 26, 2014

Of birds and squirrels

At first it was a war.  At least, that's how I perceived it.  I had a suet feeder hung out for the birds.  The squirrels would climb up there and chase the birds away, eat the suet, and then throw the feeder to the ground.  Then they would drag the feeder off into the bushes and take it apart.  Yes, they really did, and on more than one occasion.

Needless to say, I got tired of retrieving the feeder and reassembling it.  I was not happy that the squirrels were chasing off the woodpeckers but I wanted the squirrels to be fed, too, so I put out food on the ground for the squirrels.  The birds ate that more than the squirrels did. 

I decided all would be well if I could keep the squirrels off the bird feeder.  Then the birds would eat from the feeder and the squirrels would eat on the ground.  I put spinners made of old plastic milk bottles on the pole for the bird feeder.  They did discourage the squirrels but my husband thought they were ugly.  He had a point, so I removed them.  Here's an example, with a red-headed woodpecker and a downy.

I tried putting hot sauce and pepper on the suet.  I read that birds don't mind that but squirrels do.  Sure enough, one of the squirrels ate some peppered suet and sat on the feeder pole with his mouth hanging open.  I felt terrible.  And it didn't work for long.  The squirrels realized the hot stuff was only a coating, which they could scrape off.

All of this made me think (and about time, you might say). What I really disliked about everyone eating from the bird feeder was that the feeder would get dumped on the ground and dragged into the bushes.  Aha!  I got some safety wire and wired the feeder so it would stay closed.  And I reinforced the hanger.

It worked.  At least so far the feeder has not gone walkabout.  Birds and squirrels can eat, no problem.  But there is a new development.  Grackles have discovered the feeder.  And grackles, apparently, can be bullies.  They are iridescently beautiful but they chase away other birds and even squirrels.  

The grackles won't let me take their picture so I borrowed these from the public domain,

I guess it's always something.

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