Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BirdNerding: Caving to the Squirrel Baffle

Happy Day after Canada Day!

Today marks my last day of a 6 day long "weekend", which was amazing.

My thoughts lately consist mostly of letting go of the anxiety of leaving the garden to grow "wild" (today I discovered two more previously thought "weed" plants flowering), dealing with allergic reactions to mosquito bites (propagating our citronella plant ASAP) and bird watching.

Serious bird watching has had a learning curve. Since my last posting we have made some birdnerding progress! We now have the following birds visiting our feeders:

  1. Chickadees: They have been there from the start and are super tame.
  2. Junkos: kinda the bullies of the small bird world, but when they fly away their tail markings are pretty!
  3. Crows: these guys are HUGE out in suburbia-land. I kinda like 'em. They caw at each other and strut around the yard like they own it. They are powerful and smart and boss-a%$. I am a fan.
  4. Woodpeckers: Just saw one eat out of our feeder this weekend, which was neat!
  5. Northern Flickers: sadly this mated pair had their nest eggs eaten by the crows. I am no longer as much of a fan.
  6. Mourning Doves: These guys are a pain in the butt. I have come to realize they are just a prettier version of pigeons.
  7. Robins: They produce my favourite bird song!
  8. Song Sparrows: meh. I mean really- what else can I say?
  9. American Goldfinches: although initially pumped about this, since we have at least a dozen (gorgeously yellow) males and females they are less impressive.
  10. Blue Jays: I love these guys! Very common here in Nova Scotia, their blue plumage is just impressive. Sadly so is their squawking call. Ah well, can't be perfect!
  11. Ruby Throated Hummingbirds: We have at least a few males and a few females! Yay!
  12. PURPLE FINCH! This is THE elusive bird. I saw one in March and didn't see another until yesterday. Andrew was starting to imply I had hallucinated the first sighting *whatevs*

Chickadee in the lilac bush. They are so tame I can get super close

(American Goldfinch!)
(If you look closely you can see the Northern Flicker's head peaking out of it's former nest. The hole is now twice as big and no more flickers :( )
(the Purple Finch!!!! YES!)

We have now graduated to three bird feeders, two suet squirrel bird feeders and one hummingbird feeder. I used to scoff at the craziness that was my dad's intense hatred for the squirrels at his cottage (he has killed them all off... I am not kidding) but after an intense staring contest of will between myself and mama squirrel while she was eating my suet/bird feed calmly as if to say "eff you, MAKE ME LEAVE" I *may* have started understanding the burning hate of all things squirrel.

(very tame adolescent squirrel, licking Andrew's fingers)
Now, to clarify, in Nova Scotia we only have two kinds of squirrels: the small brown and the flying squirrel. I would like to point out that chipmunks have stripes (I don't know how many times I have to point this out to my Ontario-born friends who see a squirrel and go "chipmunk!". Seriously- stripes people).

(no stripes? Not a chipmunk)

We currently have a family of squirrels- a mama and two babies. They were cute when they were little, but at this point they are ridiculously tame. I have thrown rocks at them, yelled at them, waved my arms like a crazy lady at them, hissed at them (hey, it works with my cats) to basically no avail. The mama especially chirps angrily at me and I swear she gives me the evil eye.

Despite this, I can't stomach killing them.

A month ago I tried making my own squirrel baffle out of a curling iron plastic container. Cuz I'm cheap and refused to believe that we needed to spend 30-40$ on a baffle (which, by the way, is a silly name). I used metal tape to keep it there and was super smug. I scoffed at facebook comments that the squirrel would win.

(evidence that the squirrels got through my DIY baffle. He was so tame he climbed on Andrew's hand- see above- and I scraped the tape off using a stick)
It lasted about three days. *shakes fist at squirrel family*

So recently I caved and when Andrew said he wanted to be crazy and purchase the "Squirrel Stopper" hummer of a bird feeder, I agreed.

(It's so large it needed to be 2.5ft in the ground!)
Phew! The roundish part in the middle is the baffle. It moves up and down and side/side, so when the squirrel trips to climb it- it either can't get a grip or is knocked off!

(Making the HUGE feeder level)
Me and our ridonkulous bird feeder!!!

It arrived tonight. We put it together (ok Andrew did most of it) and I am so excited to see a squirrel FAIL at getting at the feeders it's scary. Like a little old couple Andrew and I sat on our deck, braving the black flies and mosquitos, and waited for the birds to arrive. Best way to enjoy my evening!

Our next goal is to attract the following birds: Cardinals, grosbeaks, redbreasted nuthatches and swallows. The last two will involve a bit more creativity.

Any suggestions/tips from other birdnerds out there?


Nicole said...

Really weird Ontarians can't tell the difference between squirrels and chipmunks, we have both here.....must not be country folks :) Good luck with the squirrels, they're crafty little buggers!

Christy said...

OMG I LOVE that bird feeder! So awesome!

We have quite a squirrel problem. I used to laugh at a crazy aunt who was terrified of squirrels; I mean they're so cute, right? Then one got into my apartment and ransacked it a decade ago, then ripped up all my flowers to eat the roots and my fear began in earnest.

We've been dealing with a family of squirrels who have taken up residence in our attic right above my bedroom, keeping me awake all night (I'm a light sleeper) with their chattering and scratching.

Great bird nerd photo captures, and keep up the garden pics. I love seeing other people's gardens.

Betsy Escandon said...

Those darn squirrels! We really need to get our bird feeder up. I bought the seed like a year ago.

Green Bean said...

From one bird nerd to another, you rock! We have the squirrel buster which works 90% of the time. It works by weight which means that crows and most jays cannot get the seed/peanuts either. That works for us because both crows and jays will raid other birds nests. Not nice!! I even say a jay fly down a juvenile Western Tanager last spring. The little fellow got away, while I was watching, but who knows.

Have you put up any bird houses yet? Planted any natives with berries or seeds that attract birds? Oh, and what about a bird bath? We have so many more birds that come to our bird baths than to our feeders.

Good luck in the never-ending addiction of bird nerding! :)


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