31 January, 2014

Squirrel-proof bird feeders – or maybe not



Grey squirrels have become very successful in most of Britain since they were introduced from North America in the nineteenth century.  Agile and ingenious, the local squirrels rarely take long to spot that a bird feeding station is a handy source of free food.  Or, for that matter, to figure out how to defeat, circumvent or otherwise overcome attempts to keep them away from the food.  Here’s one grey squirrel at a wildlife site that has figured out how to outwit the (supposedly) squirrel-proof feeders:
 

The white plastic skirt and cage around the trunk of the tree holding the feeders is a baffle, designed to stop squirrels climbing up from the ground.  It may well be very effective at that – but this squirrel ran up a nearby tree, leaped across the gap, and ran down the tree holding the feeders


While hanging on to the tree with its back legs, the squirrel can stretch across to the feeder...



...and tuck in



Even when the feeder is too far from the tree to stretch across from the trunk, the squirrel is not deterred.  Just run back up the pole, out along the branch, and swarm down to hang on to the feeder itself.


Bird feeder designers: Nil.  Squirrel: 1.  Which is the usual scoreline.


7 comments:

Constance Brewer said...

Squirrels are pretty ingenious. My brother resorted to birdfeeder on a wire between trees with a cone shaped baffle over the feeder. They jump on it and slide off to the ground. So far....

Christina said...

What fabulous photos!! The squirrels are just so clever that humans simply can't outwit them!

Carla said...

Constance - They certainly are ingenious. If they can't jump onto a bird feeder, I've seen them chew through the rope holding it, whereupon they can attack it on the ground to their hearts' content until they find a weak spot. At least your brother has circumvented that one by hanging his birdfeeder on a wire rather than a rope - credit to him. I shall be interested to hear if the squirrels stay defeated...

Christina - Hello! Thank you, and I am glad you liked the photos :-) The squirrel was so intent on eating that it stayed still long enough to photograph it - often all I see of them is a flick of tail as they disappear into the branches.

Rick said...

This is a hoot! Plus cool pictures!

Have they tried hanging the bird feeders from balloons? But then, evolution has already provided an answer: flying squirrels.

Carla said...

Rick - Glad you liked it! Haven't heard of hanging the feeder from a balloon, although someone somewhere has probably got desperate enough to try it - and no doubt the squirrels outwitted it somehow.

Gabriele C. said...

Constance, they will soon invent grappling hooks. :-)

Carla said...

Gabriele - Indeed, no doubt they will :-)