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
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all