Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Bill of Fare - Part II

In a previous posting I talked about the new anti-squirrel changes that we implemented at our al fresco animal auberge over the past holidays. You can stop worrying now -- the squirrels are doing just fine thank you. In fact there are more of them than before. And they are healthier, slimmer and livelier than ever.

Mars and I installed two new types of feeders (both Christmas gifts) - a "Squirrel-Be-Gone" squirrel proof one and three "Seed Ball Bird Feeders". And we took down our sunflower seed "Two Liter Feeder". The latter consists of a zinc metal perch that screws on to the top of a 2-liter soda bottle.

We have had several editions of this device since our son Bram gave us our first kit in the late 1980's. It was an immediate hit with the sparrows and purple finches in our area. It was an even bigger draw to the neighborhood squirrels who quickly discovered that their hanging-upside-down body length was equal to that of a similarly orientated soda bottle. And that, positioned thusly, they could stuff their cheeks with enough hard-shelled sunflower pips to (a) to outweigh the ability of their legs to hold them up and (b) keep them nourished until their next turn at the "Food ATM".

Over these years Mars and I have become F.O.S. -- Friends of Squirrels -- a meaning for F.O.S. surprisingly absent from the list at "". So, even though we were deploying apparently anti-Sciurus devices, we weren't that serious about it.

To our total surprise the "Squirrel-Be-Gone" feeder with its Rube Goldberg, spring-loaded, weight-activated, rapidly dropping perch -- actually worked. It's been several weeks now and we have not seen even one tree-rat on that feeder. In fact none have even tried it. Now I am even more impressed with these agile, tree dwelling, furry tailed rodents who seem to know, without even trying, which safes can be cracked and which ones should just be left alone.

For several days our gray yard pets were content to gather at the base of the bird-feeder-tree and dine on food that I had spread on the ground, and/or had fallen from the suspended food stations -- especially the "Seed Ball Bird Feeders".

As I mentioned in my earlier posting I ended up filling the metal cages with a mix of milo, millet and safflower due to the fact that the sunflower seeds that were recommended were bigger than the holes from which they were to be taken.

The mixture is however easily extricated. So easily in fact that the slightest movement of the sphere (whether caused by a visitor or a slight breeze) induces an avalanche of yellow kernels onto the earth below. That windfall plus the inefficient and wasteful pecking techniques of the diners at the "Squirrel-Be-Gone" cafe seemed to provide enough sustenance for not only the three squirrels who pre-resided the new feeders, but four additional ones as well.

And, perhaps because these normally gluttonous gourmands were now taking smaller portions more often, their overall vigor and svelte-ness seemed to improve.

This terrestrial feeding pattern lasted however but a few days as the squirrels quickly realized that, compared to the "Two Liter Feeder", the feeders were truly high-hanging, low-hanging fruit. Soon the Sciurus were scurrying to be the next one to sup through the metal cage and, at the same time, spread the wealth to friends and family below.

Unlike the plastic soda bottles used for the "Two Liter Feeder", the "high quality metal" in the birdseed balls seems impervious to the tree-rat's incessantly gnawing incisors. And for whatever reason the squirrels linger for but a short time at the feeding orbs thereby allowing some of our feathered yard-pets to partake in the milo, millet and safflower bounty.

Bottom line: we've got more birds, and squirrels, than ever and they all are looking pretty happy and healthy. The "Two Liter Feeder", along with several replacement bottles, is however handily on deck in the garage.

F.O.S. do not leave the fate of squirrels to chance.

No comments: