Defeated by Squirrels

my gnawed, Crisco-smeared bird feeder

my gnawed, Crisco-smeared bird feeder

I used to like squirrels.  They’re adaptable, resourceful little creatures.  And so cute when they eat.  I used to love watching them take staccato bites from a morsel held in their front paws, and chew it faster than I ever could.  And that tail–jaunty and luxuriant at the same time.

Sure, squirrels can be cute.  But now I hate them!  I know that’s strong language.  But I have good reason.  They have forced me to give up feeding birds in a feeder on our window!

For quite awhile, I had a see-through plastic bird feeder stuck to our living room window.  What fun it was to sit on the couch and watch a titmouse or a chickadee perch on the rim of the feeder, pluck out a sunflower seed, and fly off with it.

But this pleasing entertainment was not to last.   After awhile I would occasionally hear a crashing sound from outside, in front of the living room window.  Looking up, I saw only two suction cups left on the window, with no feeder attached.

Damn.  Once outside, I fumed to see on the walkway the feeder, scattered birdseed, and a squirrel scampering away.

Okay, I thought. I’ll just have to make it impossible for squirrels to leap onto the feeder and knock it down.  So I stuck the feeder back onto the window, only higher up this time.  For a few days, I saw no sign of squirrel activity.  I felt pretty smart to have beaten these guys.

But my smugness was short-lived.  Soon a determined squirrel figured out how to jump a little higher.  Down crashed the feeder again.

But how, I wondered, did the crafty squirrel manage to leap onto the feeder?  Then I noticed that part of the outside edge of one of the shutters framing the window was missing.  A big piece had been gouged out.  What could have caused that kind of damage?  Oh, I get it.  That #%!* squirrel had gnawed away part of the shutter to make itself a perch, closer to the feeder, from which to leap!  What a little bastard!

Was I mad!  Because of a greedy, determined squirrel, I was not only missing out on watching the birds, but I had to buy a new shutter.  In the coming days, I monitored the shutters for signs of squirrel mischief.  Fortunately, the new shutter was still intact.  But even though the squirrels weren’t gnawing the shutters, they were still getting to the feeder.  Finally, the feeder was so battered from its many crashes, so cracked and chipped that I was compelled to throw it in the trash.  I’d been defeated.

But I missed the birds!  And I couldn’t let some little squirrels beat me.  Surely I could find some way to prevail.  So I vowed to try again, and I asked for a new bird feeder for Christmas.  My niece and her family gave me one.  And I liked the looks of it.  Its ‘conquistador helmet’ shape suited my sense of resolve.  With this feeder, the birds and I would win!

All too soon, those squirrels figured out that the free food was back.  I would hear a thud, not as loud as the crash of a feeder being knocked down, but not the soft thud of a bird’s feet landing on the feeder’s edge either.  Rushing to the scene, I saw a squirrel sitting in the feeder, its well-fed body filling the feeder almost completely.  As it stuffed itself with seeds, I could swear it gave me a taunting look.  Only my most threatening sounds and gestures could rouse him from his feast.

Thinking that the squirrel was getting into the feeder from the top of the ‘conquistador’s helmet,’ I thought that if I made the top of the feeder slick with Crisco, the squirrel could not hang on and would give up.  I wasn’t happy about marring my cool-looking feeder by slathering shortening on its top, but if it would stop the squirrels, I was willing.

The Crisco ploy seemed to work for awhile.  I rejoiced cautiously.  But it wasn’t very long before the squirrels were using the feeder as their personal dining room and dinner at the same time.  And then I noticed that two big holes had been torn into the screen adjacent to the window with the mounted feeder.  So now these guys were ruining the screen too.

Was I bummed.  Now we had to replace a screen too.  Nothing I’d tried had kept the squirrels away for long.  Sadly, I took down the ‘conquistador’s helmet’ smeared with Crisco.  I wrapped it in a plastic bag and put it away.  I hate to admit I’ve been defeated by squirrels, but it’s true.   Who wouldn’t hate them after all that?–April Moore

9 Responses to “Defeated by Squirrels”

  1. Elizabeth Cottrell Says:

    Oh, April, I confess I am laughing out loud, not just at the antics of the squirrel, but at your uncharacteristic antagonism, which is totally understandable. The little buggers are such nuisances and have caused us lots of pain and mental anguish too. The best luck we’ve had is with the pole feeders with a baffle.

  2. Monika Kienzle Says:

    Well, at our house the bird feeder is hanging under a baffle far from the railing – too far for me to take it down to refill it, but not far enough for the squirrels (up to six of them this spring) to jump onto it with ease and, hanging upside down, stuff themselves on the bird food. My dear husband thought he found a way to get the squirrels to leave the feeder. He has bought a huge bag of squirrel food and keeps it right under the kitchen table. When he sees a squirrel on or near the bird feeder, he opens the window and motions to get onto the ground where he wiill find three or four handsful of their food. That works for the moment. But those squirrels have developed a real taste for bird food and are soon on the approach again. Now I am not as gentle as Don. I open my window and yell. Then I get the water pitcher and try to throw some water the bird food thiefs. They still keep coming. My patienc is limited, so while Don is still reasoning with his friends, I am reaching the front door to make a personal appearance with water pitcher in hand. Guess what, after I chased after them across the deck and down the driveway, all the while yelling like a mad woman- they now believe that I mean business. The birds and I can now have breakfast together again. I made a real fool of myself, but it worked! They don’t understand swear words, but they do seem to remember my water pitcher -

  3. Nancy Kelly Says:

    They are brilliant engineers in that they seem to understand so well how things work, but so annoying for the same reason. This is a great piece, April, and you deserve a squirrel-proof feeder, but I think they’re all too heavy to hang on the window so wouldn’t give satisfaction. I hope you’ll find some way to feed your friends.

  4. Tanya Says:

    I so sympathize with your losing battles! In our experience, raccoons are even worse and we have had to take down our feeders as well. We have tried leaving them down for a while so the critters “forget”, then putting them up until they “find” their free food again!

  5. Kia Ware Says:

    I will search far and wide for a squirrel proof window feeder! :)

  6. Joan Kelly Says:

    Great “food” for thought, April! Exactly what is our human role here on earth?

  7. Diane Says:

    Yes, unlike April to use such strong language for another creature–but understandable! Amazing they can be so annoyingly determined and resourceful!

  8. Elizabeth Scott Says:

    a large dog sleeping under the feeder helps! Or standing guard at the top of the steps. (I tried to copy Hannah Savannah’s photo into my reply, but alas, I’m not computer-savvy enough to manage that)

  9. Joan Brundage Says:

    How totally frustrating! I think Elizabeth’s idea of the pole feeder with the baffle is the best yet!

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