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
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Sport
Romelu Lukaku scored twice to add to the hat-trick he registered in the first leg in Switzerland
football
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
tv
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Property search
Latest stories from i100
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

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Recruitment Genius: Print / Warehouse Operative

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Assistant

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Anna Woodward: German Speaking Accountant

£45,000: Anna Woodward: My client is aleading global manufacturer and service ...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower