Mark Frauenfelder at 11:51 am Tue, Oct 12, 2010
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Squirrel vs. Slinky. The smart squirrel eventually wins, as always. (Thanks, Antinous!)
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His latest book is Made by Hand: My Adventures in the World of DIY
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I am *so* on team squirrel.
To me, all this video did was prove that the cameraman is a big a-hole.
Hey everybody. Sorry I’m late. But the slinky idea is sound and proven in my yard. But I use a commercial product called a “Squirrel Slinky,” which attaches one end of the slinky (with a slightly tapered end) to the bottom of a metal sleeve about half an inch diameter wider than the feeder pole. The top end of the spring reaches through the sleeve and is affixed to the pole using a snug rubber grommet. It should be easy for a DIYer to replicate, but I buy them because it’s convenient.
Once the devoce is positioned correctly (based on feeder size and squirrel metrics) the squirrels will give up after about three tries. They’re not stupid. They’ll simply forage for spillage on the ground beneath the feeder after that.
I don’t really know if it is possible to squirrel-proof a bird feeder. You might be able to make one squirel resistant, but it’s only a matter of time. It’s like idiot-proofing….
Just make sure the effort to get the seeds cost more calories than the food they get from the seeds.
The squirrels will still eat your seeds but they’ll starve to death anyway.
petroleum jelly and cayenne pepper slathered on a bird feeder pole will keep all types of critters away, like squirrels.
I slather petroleum jelly (a/k/a Vaseline) on the pole.
It works. It may melt in the sun which requires another slathering but it works.
House brand versions are cheap.
I slather petroleum jelly (a/k/a Vaseline) on the pole.
Ultimately, this is my favorite boingboing entry… Ever.
It’s not about liking or disliking squirrels; whether you want to feed them or not, it’s simply not economical to feed them in most peoples cases. Birds, even a large flock of birds, will eat at a reasonable pace. One Squirrel will eat all the seed in an hour or two…or dump it all over the place. Bird seed isn’t cheap…somehow.
If you can afford the little bit extra for a giant jug of cayenne pepper then that works wonders in deterring squirrels from eating the seed…birds aren’t affected by the spice. Just mix a generous amount in w/ the seed in the feeder.
I also like seedroller’s idea of fattening them up strategically…free food.
the zapper idea would be great, all you have to do is attach a the solar walkway light to the top of the pole. inside you remove the bulb and and hook-up an easily made transformer, which is in turn wired to an also easily made contact pad about halfway up the pole.
never change batteries, no dangerous voltages, and works 24/7.
PVC pipe, cut to size and placed over the vertical length of the shepherd’s hook. works fine for me…
That was fun. It was like a live-action Road Runner cartoon.
(I accidentally watched it with the sound off. Reading the comments that mention the, er, audio commentary, I’m not sure whether that unfortunate or not).
I used petroleum jelly at first, then upgraded to a baffle later. So far, so good. When the jelly was first applied, it was hilarious to watch the squirrels try as hard as they could to get up the pole – lunging, spinning, scrabbling higher, then sliding back to the ground. Pole dancing.
I have two feeders out there now – one shepherd’s hook, one pole. Both have baffles which seem to work just fine for me. A big factor is also having enough open ground between your feeder and the surrounding trees, shrubs, fences and so on.
I have always wondered about the wisdom of putting out a bowl of free food that is attractive to many species, and then getting angry when one particular species eats it. Yes, I know that squirrels will clean out a bird feeder, robbing the birds of their share of free food. I used to keep a bird feeder in my back yard until my yard was overrun with pigeons. They would inhale the seeds, crap all over my patio, and the little birds wouldn’t get anything. I finally took the feeder down.
I could drive myself crazy trying to devise a contraption to keep the pigeons (or squirrels, whatever) out, or I could accept the fact that they are the more aggressive species and will eat whatever they can find.
What is your purpose in putting out the food to begin with? To attract pretty birds so you can watch them? If your goal is to attract pretty birds, you have to accept that the less pretty animals are hungry too.
I believe you are incorrect. This all boils down to the value someone puts on attracting pretty birds to your yard.
Obviously you put a lesser value on the result (don’t care as much for pretty birds) or a higher value on the work required to prevent the “less pretty animals” from accessing the feeder (lack the ingenuity, lazy).
Someone else may put a higher value to the result or a lower value to the work. Therefore it may be worthwhile in their minds to derive a method of feeding the song birds, while keeping the “less pretty animals” at bay.
But will this work to bird proof my squirrel feeder?
Many songbirds are threatened. Squirrels, not so much.
Last winter we did put some seeds for birds a few times on our balcony (less than 2 or 3 kg). Then a couple days ago, on the very first cold day of the year, there was a bird tapping on our window until we put some seeds out. He started again a few days later when the temp was down again and the seeds were out !
Red chili powder makes amazing squirrel proofing. Capsaicin does not bind to the pain receptors of birds.
Similar to mortis, I surrounded the pole holding our feeders with dryer vent ducting. About 4 inches in diameter, and capped with an upside down 2 liter soda bottle with the top cut off and a hole in the bottom for the pole to help stabilize it. It’s too big around and too slippery for them to shinny up.
I’ve had only one squirrel able to jump high enough to bypass the ducting, and that only when the snow piles up enough. I figure if they’re amusing enough, they can have some of the seed.
If you really hate squirrels, I suppose a slinky made out of razor wire might be inhumanely effective. Just be careful putting it up.
just get a cat
Not the best idea, my cat quite often gets stuck up trees after chasing the resident squirrel and I have a ladder permanently against the apple tree for cat rescue, but still get fed up of tree climbing. The cat chases and the squirrel just sits laughing and wiggling it’s tail in a na na ne na na sort of way.
Gotta love watching squirrels + anti-squirrel traps.
So much fun watching an an animal with brains trying to out-think others.
Some great ideas here….
I’ve been using electrified concertina wire. There’s some collateral damage, various birds, a couple of cats, neighbors. However, I believe one has to be willing to make sacrifices in the name of achieving strategic objectives.
What I always tell people is to consider it another form of birdfeeding. Don’t think of it as feeding the squirrels.
Think of it as feeding the owls indirectly.
Actually we like squirrels and birds out here and came up with a way to keep the squirrels separate from the birds.
You’ve probably seen them before, but you hook a long piece of wood to a stable object in a way that allows it to spin. Put a corn cob at either end. The squirrels tend to like the corn more and will spend hours spinning on the damn thing to get to them and then are satisfied. The birds eat the bird seeds and watch the squirrels with us.
Everyone is happy, well fed, and entertained. Corn cobs are cheap-ish too and it’ll take them a week or so to get through both of them.
I love the video.
Try this one. It sticks on the window with a suction cup.
I love the squirrels as well as the songbirds, and I keep feeders well stocked for them all. My wife and I used to not like the squirrels so much, but now we really appreciate them fattened on corn, then braised with red wine, fungi, and root vegetables. So far, we are still only watching the birds.
I have to agree with the narrator. That was indeed fuckin’ great.
We just throw peanuts out in the yard for the squirrels, and vaseline up the pole on the bird feeder. The peanuts satisfy the squirrels (and sometimes some very lovely cardinals, too).
The only problem with this is for us poor people who are deathly allergic to peanuts. The squirrels take them out of your yard and into mine.
I’ve had hives break out all over my hand and arm from touching a balcony rail where the squirrels have brought the peanuts (without me knowing). Took me a while to figure out what was happening there.
I’ve also been prevented from gardening becuase of all the peanut shells in my garden. God forbid I should eat somthing with my fingers after touching something in my backyard (which to all appearances and expectations should be safe from peanuts).
For those trying to feed (little) songbirds, not so much pigeons (and other large birds), there are feeders that close if a bird that’s too heavy sits on the perch, but if a lighter bird sits, the openings remain open so feeding can commence.
…On second thought, I may be misremembering that. I think I’m thinking of the red squirrel feeders in England, to support the native red squirrels, as differentiated from the non-native and larger gray squirrels. Still, the principle’s the same.
Interestingly enough, over in the US, our smaller red squirrels are small enough to fit through the squirrel cages some feeders have around them (the one on the far left in the video). Yesterday, I saw one of the little scamps climb into one and lounge on the bottom leisurely eating seed while the twice as large gray squirrels squabbled for his leavings underneath.
Actually, I think the small red squirrels are an invasive European variety, and the larger gray ones are North American. Apparently the grey ones are in Britain now too, as an invasive species.
Perhaps the whole airline and international trade industries have been masterminded all along by manipulative squirrel-genius conclaves interested in tourism. Now try squirrel-proofing an international border fence!
Repatriate the arboreal rodents!
Amusing, but not as funny as the Twirl-A-Squirrel (TM).
And the vaseline will probably just encourage more squirrel masturbation.
boooo! the guy cheated by banging on whatever to scare the squirrel away after he SUCCEEDED in defeating his slinky obstacle. it’s a good idea, but in this case, squirrel 1, dude 0.
I agree, the canicula was in the wrong for hitting on the window. The little guy earned the right to eat the seed.
Ok, so next we electrify the slinky.
You joke, but my uncle did just that…he wired up the pole of his feeder to a switch next to his easy chair. He used to let the squirrels get real close to the bottom of the feeder, and then hit the switch. ZAP!
“Squirrelproof your birdfeeder with a Slinky” . . . or not. Whatever.
The design concept is sound but I suggest one improvement. The squirrel made progress only when s/he was climbing on the pole, pushing the slinky up with its nose. Try attaching the slinky to the bottom of the pole so the squirrel is unable to get under it. It will then be forced to climb on the slinky, which did not appear to be productive.
or, try attaching the slinky.. TO A SLINKY!!one!
double slinky… all the way…
It’s slinkies all the way down!
But squirrels are our friends and birds shit everywhere they can…
Obviously you’ve never come home to find two Italian greyhounds chasing a squirrel around your house.
Incidentally the Chinese word for squirrel translates – literally – as tree rat.
More like “Fir Mouse”, but considering we use the same word for mouse and rat, and affix different words to the beginning for different species of rodent-like creatures – e.g “pocket rat/mouse” for kangaroos, it depends on the translator.
Vermin? What about rabbits? They are infested with just about every parasite you can think of (which is one of the reasons people don’t hunt them in summer) but still end up as pets and on the supper table. They all have a place, but squirrels help with replanting woodlands. They develop disease when exposed to our trash and pets. I do believe that they can and do cause a lot of damage when exposed to our buildings and infrastructure, but that’s nature. They are here to stay; we should realize that not only squirrels but all wild animals will do anything it can to get to a food source, even birds.
Cute. It was splayed out on the grass at the end. Too tired trying to tackle that thing.
But squirrels are our friends and birds shit everywhere they can, because they can, including on top of your head.
I’ll have to remember this next year when trying to prevent squirrels from destroying my sunflowers.
How am I supposed to forward this to my grandma, what with all the f-bomb and s-bombs?
Dave, just BennyHillify it:
Grandma will love it even more!
This is the internet.
Easy fix, make the slinky heavier! Fishing weights would work, clip them right too the bottom.
Why not share the bird food with the squirrel? I share my apple tree with a squirrel. He gets the ones I can’t reach and everyone’s happy.
Squirrels aren’t big on sharing.
Because squirrels are vermin, somewhat disease ridden, and when you bring in one, you invite the neighbourhood. And even one squirrel will deplete your stock of seed in an amazingly short amount of time.
Also, squirrels aren’t colourful, pretty, diverse, and full of song.
Because squirrels DESTROY feeders and will gorge themselves, with the birds hardly getting a chance to feed. I’ve had success w/two different squirrel proof feeders:
One has a spring-loaded frame/cover activated by the squirrel’s weight – covering the feeding holes.
The other is a feeder enclosed by an outer wire grid that where the openings are small enough (and far enough away from the holes) to keep the squirrel’s out.
I’ve just moved to a ground floor flat that has a postage-stamp of private garden. It also has a green at the back which has a colony of squirrels. I was “ooh, aren’t they cute?” for the first two days, then “gerrof, ya sods!” ever since.
I don’t mind feeding the squirrls, if only they didn’t destroy the feeders and take, spill or spoil all the rest of the food.
I’m tyring to find some way of squirrel-proofing some of the feeders, while leaving one or two just for them. any offers, anyone?
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