Millers - 0, Squirrels - 4
That's the score in our backyard battle over bird seed. We want the birds to have the seed. The squirrels couldn't care less what we want. So far, the squirrels have outsmarted us at every turn.
First we were hanging our homemade feeder off the side of the deck. But I noticed the squirrels would get right to the edge and swing their bodies out so that their forearms rested on the feeder plate. They'd then gorge themselves.
Then we bought a pretty feeder labeled squirrel-be-gone that even had a cute picture of a squirrel with a line through it. We bought a shepherd's hook to elevate the feeder up off the deck. It seemed to be working just fine... until we realized it was so long that the squirrels could just sit up on their haunches and munch away.
So we bought a (much cheaper) plastic no-nonsense feeder that had an extremely short cord and deep basin. Surely it was squirrel-proof, right? You know how this story ends. The too-smart squirrels went ape-poo on the deck, launching and flinging themselves from every angle until one of them smacked right into the feeder. The force of impact made the feeder swing at crazy angles and the basin detached from the top, spilling all the seed.
We made a last ditch effort at feeding birds from our deck. We bought a feeder that comes in its own cage. There is a feeder plate, but it spills barely any seed. Instead, the birds must enter the cage and eat directly from the feeder column. Fool proof! We watched the squirrels knock it from here to yonder, and it still held firm. Success at last!
Until today. When I was walking through the dining area and noticed a gray blur. I kept my eye on it as I grabbed my camera. Damn if that tree-rat didn't jump up onto the feeder, scale it like a mountain climber, and then come back down so it's head was level with the feeder plate. It then used one claw to paw and bat at the column so the seed would spill out. As I watched, it consumed at least a quarter of the seed.
What the hell. They've outsmarted us at every step. Now that they've figured out how to game this system, I guarantee you, the 10-pound bag of seed we just bought will be gone in a few days. I just can't justify spending so much money to feed something that would eat anything.
This may be the end of our delightful conversations about how the chickadees are the cutest birds ever, and how the nuthatches and tufted titmice are so playful (read: aggressive, but we can't tell the kids that), how beautiful the bluejays and cardinals are.
So I'm soliciting advice from the experts. Is there a way to beat the intelligentsia living in my backyard? The mountain man keeps caressing his bb gun but I'd rather not go full Clampett on anything (just yet). We'll try anything so suggest away!