Last month, I did a post about the bird feeder we received as a Christmas present from Casey’s boyfriend Alex. I have a couple of updates on that.
That post ended with this:
“But the very next day, small black birds began flitting in and out of the feeder, happily pecking at the seeds, and then flying away, without leaving a tip. Barbara called after them, ‘Go tell your friends…especially the pretty ones!’ Not that she’s prejudiced or anything.”
Well, then someone told us that the hoity-toity birds in Connecticut only dine on sunflower seeds. Black sunflower seeds. With a side of Grey Poupon. So my dutiful wife went out and bought black sunflower seeds and I put those into the feeder and soon, a blue jay showed up.
“Barb, come quick!” I yelled to my spouse, as if a flying saucer had landed in our backyard. “A pretty bird!”
Barbara looked out the back window. “That’s a blue jay,” she stated huffily. “They’re mean.” I had no idea my wife was so opinionated when it comes to avian life forms.
Worse than blue jays, however, are squirrels, who, apparently, also enjoy a good sunflower seed now and then. They somehow manage to shimmy up the cold metal pole to steal the food from the poor, starving birds. Clearly, this could not be allowed to go on, because…well, I’m not exactly sure why, since Barb had yet to see a bird she liked anyway.
Nevertheless, we convened an emergency family brainstorming meeting in the local malt shop, which actually exists in Stamford, to discuss the squirrel problem.
Someone suggested smothering the pole with cooking oil, but it was pointed out that the squirrels might enjoy licking that off. I chuckled at the thought of a dozen or so squirrels with their tongues stuck to the pole like Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber, their stiff little bodies frozen at right angles to the pole. It might look like a furry ladder leading up to the feeder.
I’ll give you a moment to visualize that.
We then discussed other, not-edible lubrication products. Casey proposed using “that oily hardware spray” which turned out to be WD-40. Alex’s idea was ski wax. (Alex isn’t officially part of the family, but, hey, he has a dresser downstairs. And besides, the bird feeder came from him.)
Before someone came up with K-Y, I made the pre-emptive statement that I had no intention of spending even the smallest part of my Saturdays spreading any sort of substance on my pole.
Instead, I said, I thought a small ring of barbed wire around the pole might do the trick. (Don’t go all PETA on me; we do enough for the local squirrel population when we take our dog Toby to the local park and throw down bushels of peanuts to draw the squirrels out of the trees so Toby can chase them. This is a big win for everyone: Toby gets exercise, and the squirrels get to eat. They also tease Toby mercilessly, coming about as close as a critter can get to putting their paws in their ears and going “NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH!” and then, instead of going up the nearest tree, leading the dog on a futile chase for the merriment of the other squirrels.)
Anyway it turns out that better minds have already tackled the squirrel-in-the-bird-feeder problem that is devastating our world today. A quick Google search reveals all manner of “squirrel baffles” designed specifically to prevent their ascension up bird feeder poles.
My favorite was the “Twirl-A-Squirrel,” a “battery powered, electronic bird feeder baffle” from a company called Nixalite. According to the website, this contraption is both “effective and fun to watch” because…
“When a squirrel grabs on to the feeder, the Smart Sensor in Twirl-a-Squirrel ‘feels’ the weight and starts spinning the feeder. The longer the squirrel tries to hold on, the faster it spins. When the squirrel lets go, the Twirl-a-Squirrel slowly spins to a stop.”
It doesn’t say where the squirrel comes to a stop after being tossed through the air by the centrifugal force produced by this rapidly rotating rodent ridder.
I imagined spending my weekend days watching squirrels being flung in all directions, followed by evenings listening to our bug zapper. But as entertaining as that sounded, I was put off by the $57 price tag of the Twirl-a-Squirrel, not to mention the possibility of having to shovel crashed squirrel corpses off our deck.
So I purchased a $16 Woodlink baffle which came without installation instructions. It consisted of a metal thing which I could see was meant to wrap around the pole like those cones they put on dogs after an operation. There was also a piece of hardware which probably has a name that I don’t know, and that obviously was supposed to clamp onto the pole by means of screws. But I couldn’t see how the cone thingy could attach to the clamp thingy.
An email to the manufacturer revealed that it doesn’t attach. The cone thingy just sits on top of the clamp thingy until a squirrel comes and tried to climb it, at which time the cone thingy tilts and makes noise, theoretically scaring the squirrel off.
So far, I haven’t seen any squirrels in the feeder, but then I never actually saw the little sneaks in the first place. (My daughter ratted them out, if you’ll excuse the rodent pun.) I did, however, see a cardinal in there just this morning. I wouldn’t have noticed except that I was in my office, trying out the new high-powered binoculars Barbara gave me for Valentines Day, and I really can’t see into any of the neighbors’ windows from there, so I was looking at the feeder, and there was the cardinal, sitting right in the middle of it, looking just like the logo of the St. Louis baseball team, only without the bat. And there were other birds flitting around, tweeting at him to stop hogging the seeds.
So maybe the baffle is working. And you should have seen those other birds tapping away at the little keyboards on their little cell phones with their little feet. Tweet, tweet, tweet.
See you soon.