Mission impossible: How do you stop squirrels eating all your bird food?

 

I'm starting to question whether the words "bird feeder" and "squirrel-proof" should ever appear in the same sentence. I mean, I don't want to involve trading standards, but on the other hand, wouldn't it be more accurate if somewhere in there, you came across the word "relatively"?

It's all very well claiming that a bird feeder is specially designed to resist the incursions of the grey, furry-tailed garden rodents. Designers have certainly put a lot of thought into the problem. There are bird feeders which snap shut if more than a specified weight lands on them. There are bird feeders where the feeding windows are protected by an iron cage. There are all sorts of devious blueprints.

It's just that the world is also full of even more devious squirrels.

At this time of year, those devious squirrels also happen to be hungry; and they're stockpiling; and they seem to be able to devise new ways of getting round our bird feeders with each passing week.

I suppose we should feel amused. It's just that we are getting through what feels like bags and bags of bird food essentially to nourish four fat rodents that clearly don't really need it.

We've tried a number of options. First there was the window-mounted "squirrel-proof" bird feeder. This was devised on the principle that if you stick something to the middle of a flat wall with suction, there's no way for a squirrel to get up or down. Great. Well, it was until the Baumgartner-worthy jump from the redcurrant bush pioneered by one brave squirrel soul this spring. The jump wasn't the end of it – it was followed by a heavy footed stamping, aiming to bring the feeder to earth. It turns out that if you can't eat out of it, you can shake it until it falls down and then just collect the contents off the ground. Simple.

At that point we acquired a heavy duty reinforced-iron-cage bird feeder which claimed absolute squirrel-proofness. And it was indeed squirrel-proof. For a while. To the designers' credit, it took at least four months for the experimentally minded rodents to work out a solution. Here again it involved shaking. (Beginning to see a theme here?) If the squirrels pattered sufficiently up and down the branch holding the feeder, the contents started to fall earthwards, again emptying the food reservoir.

A quick survey of gardening colleagues reveals that I am not alone. There are people whose squirrels can, somehow, open the top of their squirrel-proof bird feeders, turning them into an all-you-can-eat squirrel buffet. People whose squirrels wobbled the protective bird-table baffle until they could use it as a feeding platform, and then sat under it snaffling grub while now conveniently sheltered from the wind and rain. There are even people whose squirrels (and this is hardcore) just bit through the wire cages until they got to delicious fat cake.

So let's get to work on those marketing slogans, guys. "A bit squirrel-proof"? Now that's more like it.

Catch us if you can

The most squirrel-proof feeder I've tried

Squirrels seem to be able to shake a bit of seed out of the Nuttery Squirrel-Proof Globe, but it's mostly pretty good. On the downside, it's trickier to clean than some other bird feeders. £19.99

For those still seeing the funny side

Check out Bill Adler's Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels. The perfect gift at £9.50

For the truly Desperate

The Big Cheese squirrel traps cost £7.39. But be warned: they're not at all suitable for vegetarians.

All available from amazon.co.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz