Squirrels are nothing if not the most persistent buggers in the world. Ask any amateur backyard birder who is just trying to provide some food for their feathered friends. All it takes is one lousy squirrel to subvert the whole operation and turn said birder into a stuttering, incoherent shell of him(her)self.
Frustration is the catchword here. Try as one may to keep squirrels out of food meant for birds, those tree rats find a way to defy the most imaginative deterrents. As a consequence, the victimized birders often feel the need to express their frustration, and that can lead to mild venting. But if left unchecked, it can develop into a serious mental condition experts call trauma dumping, where the aggrieved party succumbs to annoying logorrhea, an inability to stop ranting about their squirrel nemesis.
There are many available “squirrel proof” bird feeders, but they rarely work. Why is that? First, there are caged feeders wherein a metal cage surrounds a central feeder that allows small birds in, but not bigger birds or squirrels. Squirrels get around this by learning to jump hard onto the hook from which the feeder hangs, dislodging seed that falls to the ground. There are other feeders where feeder ports shut if an animal of a squirrel’s weight lands on the perch, but squirrels soon learn to bypass this by prying open the top of the food cylinder or hanging from the top to access the ports from above, or even dislodging the whole feeder from its support. Also, squirrels have very sharp teeth and can chew holes in plastic or wood to access the seed.
Squirrels are highly intelligent, excellent acrobats and ingenious problem solvers. In most instances, they will try one approach, then another, and another, and another, until they achieve success. They have legendary leaping ability, able to jump 9 feet laterally and 4-5 feet vertically. It’s therefore foolhardy to place a feeder meant for birds less than 5 feet off the ground or within 9 feet of a fence, building or tree. They can easily climb poles and can also jump from practically ANY height, due to an ability to form their body into a type of parachute, and always land safely on their heavily padded feet.
All this being said, today I chanced upon a video that showcases the amazingly adaptive problem-solving skills of squirrels. It involves a homeowner who experienced a 4-squirrel invasion of his bird feeders and did something about it: he built a squirrel obstacle course in his backyard. It is both informative and hilarious, and shows how he begrudgingly came to admire these resourceful interlopers. It has well over 100 million views, so you may have already seen it, but for me it was a delightful discovery. Click, watch and enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFZFjoX2cGg