Monday, April 26, 2010

New Bill of Fare - Part III

I knew I would be writing this story some day -- but not this soon. After almost three and one half months we’ve had a security breach at the "Squirrel-Be-Gone" -- our latest "squirrel proof" bird feeder.

I'd show you a photo of the "b and e", but it would look exactly like the manufacturer-supplied illustration of how the spring-activated, seed-lockdown mechanism prevents such thievery (see below).
I never studied the system that closely until I went out the other day to see how the tree-rats had defeated it. The device is made up of a square-sided plastic tube with several feeding holes, surrounded by a separate metal cage with leaf shaped decorations. The cage is attached to springs. The tube is not. When a squirrel latches on to the outer enclosure, it drops down and its ornamental leaves cover the apertures on the immovable plastic feeder.

It functions as designed. I've seen it in action for the past ninety-plus days. The squirrels' weight did indeed force the metal shell down so that its doors shut tight against the plastic-lined feeding holes on the interior tube.

And it still would be working if the squirrels had not gnawed away enough polyethylene to make the food portals larger than their covers, thereby allowing the sunflower seeds to tumble out and into the little rodents open mouths.

The furry felons also devoured a good chunk of the plastic at the top of the tube creating a lacuna several inches in diameter. That’s large enough for a hungry rodent head to be inserted, but only when the protective metalwork that normally covers this area, is lowered -- e.g. when a squirrel is on-board.

The effort to create this opening is akin to that of a convict digging his way, inch by inch, through the floor of his prison cell -- months of tedious labor with absolutely no immediate payback or guarantee of success.

Akin to but not identical because, based on evidence presented by the nibbled plastic wheels on my Weber barbecue grill, squirrels do seem to get a good deal of pleasure out of mundane meaningless masticating.

Two break-ins. Each heist requiring, if not forethought and planning, then at least the ability to quickly recognize a new opportunity and take advantage of it. (Brilliant tacticians or instinct-driven, blind luck opportunists?)

Either characterization leads me to believe that the term "squirrel proof" has a different meaning for squirrels than it does to us humans.

To them it is a rite of passage they must complete as "proof" of their squirrel-ness.

To us it’s just an oxymoron at which we pointlessly throw away our money.

(Click on the following links to read Part I and Part II of the adventures of our new feeders.)

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