Squirrel Proof


A few weeks back, I returned to our Queens apartment with my wife and visiting Mom to discover that an anonymous critter had dug out the middle impatiens from our modest window box. As we replanted what we could my Mom suggested, "Put a plastic fork in there to keep the squirrels from digging." Well, you can see how well that has worked. But this was hardly the first time my Mom had ventured into battle with these nut hiding, birdfeeder pillaging fiends.

Many years ago engineers at the Home Depot Corporation produced a revolutionary new tool to combat the age old problem of squirrels in the birdfeeder. It was a devilishly simple design that had one crucial modification from the squirrel buffet that was its predecessor. The landing / feeding platform (from which a bird would stand and eat pellets that were gravity fed from a hopper) was connected via lever to a gate that would raise under a larger animal's weight thereby cutting off access to the food supply. Now humankind could finally gain the upper hand.

Preliminary trials proved positive. Every time pressure was applied to the landing / feeding platform the gate would rise and no food could be accessed. It was time for installation in a backyard environment.

I am not a bird feeding enthusiast. But I can only imagine the satisfaction of seeing the first winged creature gather sustenance from a newly placed feeder. I think it could compare to throwing open the doors of a new business and receiving your very first customer. If you build it they will come.

And quickly a bird did home in on my Mom's newly placed feeder much to her delight. It was a rather portly cardinal. As my Mom watched from a short distance away the cardinal circled and then lined up for a final approach for landing.

With one swift movement it happened. In eager anticipation the cardinal dove head first towards the chamber containing the feed. But as its feet and arguably obese body landed the overly sensitive lever raised the gate and surgically lopped off the cardinal's head.

My Mom was mortified. She had introduced a torture device that would lure birds with the promise of a meal and then efficiently decapitate them for all others to see. But the good news is that headless bird carcasses proved to be a very effective squirrel deterrent. I guess the people at Home Depot really do know how to keep pests away from a feeder.

Ann, Jul 30 2005 12:09PM

If there was a severed bird head on my plate, I probably wouldn't eat either.

sandie, Aug 2 2005 6:45PM

you'd have to do some pretty extensive bird weight research to make this idea work. there are some mighty fat birds/awfully skinny squirrels out there. and ethically, should a skinny squirrel be denied food?

karl, Aug 3 2005 4:21PM

i think you should have used a plastic spork. that would have done the trick.
beautiful picture.

mark, Aug 5 2005 11:46AM

why a spork? squirrels deeply fear the fusion of two dining implements?

Heather, Aug 9 2005 7:09PM

Gross story... but I LOVE the photo.

karl, Aug 10 2005 5:46PM

Because of this, Mark.