October
12 - 2009

Yard-sale find: Squirrel-proof bird feeder

In what just might be another example of the law of attraction in thrifty action, a yard sale we stumbled upon a few weeks ago revealed something I had been planning to give in and purchase: a squirrel-proof bird feeder.

We’ve been feeding our local wild birds — pretty much just finches and sparrows — all summer, but the squirrels are growing more aggressive, and I had just about given up on the activity. I don’t want the squirrels chewing up the feeder, scaring the birds away, and most worrisome of all, spending their spare time gazing in my kitchen window and perhaps getting ideas about joining us for breakfast inside.

In the back yard, the squirrels tipped and dumped the feeder. Then Schnauzer Cheap would eat all the bird seed, resulting in weird speckled dog poo and, I feared, potential intestinal problems.

I tried chasing the squirrels off and spiking the bird seed with hot pepper, to no avail.

Then I remembered that squirrel-proof bird feeders exist. In fact, we used to have one of the type that uses spring-loaded doors that close over the food if something heavy (say … a squirrel!) hangs on it, but the squirrels simply broke the springs. Therefore, I decided I would buy one of the tougher, cage-enclosed models; I thought I’d seen them around for $40 or so. (In fact, I just checked online and they appear to be closer to $70.)

So imagine my delight when we found this one just a couple of weeks later for $5:

And it works! The whole feeder is metal, except for the clear tube in the middle. The top of the feeder has a metal top that lifts up on a u-shaped bar. A small metal disk sits over one side of the top, making it impossible for squirrels to lift the lid. (It takes almost more coordination than *I* have to lift the lid — I do have to use both hands.)

The squirrels still try; I catch them hanging off the thing, dangling by their rear paws and reaching onto the floor of the feeder to scoop out seeds the birds have dropped. But the birds have a much better chance now. We’ve seen tons of sparrows, Hollywood finches, black-capped chickadees and a couple of intrepid red-breasted nuthatches dining there.

If you have the same problem, but haven’t been so lucky with your finds, try this Instructable, which claims you can make a squirrel-proof feeder for around $10.

As a consolation prize for the squirrels, we let them polish off the seeds of the sunflower that grew from a bit of discarded bird seed earlier this summer:

Dear FCC, I purchased this feeder myself and received no compensation of any kind for reviewing it.

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