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Great little ideas

The squirrel proof bird feeder


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Great little ideas: the squirrel proof bird feeder

The squirrels, united, will never be defeated….or so I thought.

Most bird feeders claiming to be squirrel proof aren’t, the suppliers are just plain dishonest in their advertising. Those who are more honest claim their feeders to be squirrel resistant…hmm… for about 5 minutes I’d say. I’ve tried just about every squirrel deterrent I could think of (except killing or trapping; I'm not that horrible):

  • Plastic bottles on a wire they have to run over to get to the feeders. Great entertainment but no barrier
  • Ideas such as coating food in chilli, curry powder, Tabasco, peri-peri sauce and the like; they soon develop a taste for those
  • A weighted feeder, they mangled that
  • The usual feeders with an internal wire mesh; they nibbled through several of those.

They also ate the plastic perches out of vertical perspex tube feeders in cages so they could get at the seeds. Very versatile and persistent are squirrels, but I’ll grant them the entertainment value and challenge they offer. So how to stop them eating the birds out of house and home?

The answer is to double cage each bird feeder. Now you can buy some of these, most are rectangular and look like an attempt at Fort Knox hanging from a perch and they are not cheap. The simple answer is make one or more yourself from two standard bird feeders, some tinned wire and a soldering iron.

The mark one quicky!

The first proof of concept feeder was built in around 40 minutes. It utilised a new feeder and an old one wrapped around it but held together simply with tie-wraps. It worked until the squirrels worked out that they could nibble through the tie-wraps. However it proved the point - with the twin cage they couldn’t get at the bird food.

So the mark two used a stronger means of wrapping the second feeder around the first to produce the double cage and it wasn’t that difficult, just deploying tinned wire and solder.

What you need:

  • Two standard caged bird feeders - the first with a centre of your choice for e.g. fat balls or seeds - the second with a simple core, as we’ll just be using the cage and discarding the core
  • Tinned wire, 24 swg or similar available from lots of outlets
  • Solder and a simple soldering iron
  • Reasonably strong side cutters or pliers
  • Small tie-wraps for temporary fixing.

bird-feeders

Figure 1 shows a standard single cage fat ball feeder. Squirrels will get into these in seconds. They need a second cage to stop them which also allows the birds in. So cut the core away from the feeder being used to make the outer cage (the crosses show example points) and then cut the feeder into two halves. Then cut each half at a few points such that it can be expanded and wrapped around the first feeder. Tie-wrap each of the outer cage halves in place temporarily. Now wrap the tinned wire in place, tightening with pliers, in enough places to securely anchor the outer cage to the inner, then solder each wrap together, as shown in Figure 2. This prevents it being unravelled. And you are done!

To stop a favourite squirrel trick of getting the whole feeder onto the ground by dislodging from its hanger so the food falls out, use a picture hook to hang the feeder on a taught horizontal wire and clamp the hook tight or wire wrap it onto the wire. Finally use a wire run from the bottom the bird feeder down to the ground where it should be firmly tethered using a tent peg. This stops the squirrels swinging the feeders to get the food to fall out. As I said, clever they are!

And if you are by now feeling sorry for the squirrels, put up a separate feeder for them. With luck they’ll drop enough to keep the ground feeding birds happy.

Ask 50plus for help if you are unsure. Only DIY if you are competent.

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