Monday, January 11, 2010

Squirrels & Birdfeeders

Squirrels are not a problem where I live.

My house is surrounded by corn and alfalfa fields, across from the largest intact floodplain forest in the upper midwest.  I have a few trees in my yard, but not enough to attract a steady stream of arboreal rodents.   So when I see a squirrel, it's a big deal (in a "good for the squirrel" and "fun for me" way). 

During the really cold spell around Christmas (when the temperature dropped into the -20s), a very cute fox squirrel showed up for a day or two.   I'm sure she was attracted to the walnut tree next door, but when she showed up at my feeders, I couldn't resist putting out a little pile of sunflower seeds just for her.

But even when I lived in squirrel-infested suburbia, I never had problems with squirrels.  What's the secret?  It's really quite simple: 

     1.  Don't use bird seed mixes. 
     2.  Invest in squirrel-proof feeders and/or squirrel proof poles.

I'll be writing more about specific strategies with seeds, feeders and poles in upcoming blogs, but here's a picture of what a squirrel-proof suet feeder can get you:

I was amazed that the male downy (on the back left) would let the 3 females near "his" feeder.  But it was late in the day and very cold.  Before I took this photo, there were 6 downies on this feeder (another in the back and one underneath) all at the same time.  Amazing!

Other than bird capacity - what should you look for in a suet feeder?

Is it squirrel-proof?  If they cannot get to the suet, they will leave it alone.

Is it is easy to fill? 

Does it "protect" the suet from dirt and bird droppings?

Is it accessible to woodpeckers of all sizes? 

And is it easy to clean? 

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