Friday, April 18, 2014

Bird Nerds and Introducing our Nemesis Mr Squirrel

Our newest "semi" rural obsession, and bonus to moving out of the city, has been bird watching.

Now, this isn't much of a stretch for myself (or, reportedly Andrew) as I spent my summers at our cottage with a dad who was obsessed with birds. We had several different kinds of feeders, attract on average 15-20 hummingbirds, had several bird houses for swallows and my dad spent a few years destroying all evidence of any squirrels (yep... a fisherman does not mess around with squirrels).

Within days of setting up two feeders here at the house, Andrew and I were pumped to see chickadees. We were less excited to see that a family of squirrels also love the bird feed. Mr. Squirrel is now our nemesis and Andrew dreams of ways to kill him (hah, sounds creepy... and it is a bit crazy just how much Andrew hates Mr Squirrel).

(Mr Squirrel's handiwork)

Mr Squirrel (which we name ALL of them), has chewed a large hole in our front feeder, effectively spilling all the feed onto the ground. He likes to hang out at the feeder and intimidate the heck out of all our beautiful birds. Therefore, our plan to thwart Mr Squirrel is three-fold:

  1. We somehow find a feeder pole and baffle. Currently it would appear none of the stores have them and we'll probably have to order this off the internet. Yay.
  2. We place the finch feeder on the clothesline. This is actually working, since the current clothesline is made with crappy plastic covered wire that is too slippery for him to climb on. Mr Squirrels now squeak and chipper angrily at the feeder while attempting to climb all the nearest tall bushes and trees. In vain. Hah! Take that! Andrew and I laugh at their frustration.

3. We attract owls (we already heard one last week!) and snakes to eat the squirrels. Yeah!

Thankfully, Mr Squirrel hasn't completely scared away the local birds. Here's what we have seen at our feeders and in our yard to date:
- chickadees. They are ridiculously tame and the cutest little guys ever.
- song sparrows
- robins (I love their song)
- american goldfinches (yeah!)
- juncos
- a mating pair of Hairy Woodpeckers (woo!!!)
- a pair of northern flickers!
- grackles (I actually think they are pretty, with irredescent plumage)
- crows (again, I like them! They have so much personality. It's like have mafia thugs in our yard)
- Great Horned Owl (this we identified by it's call the other night. We actually sat in bed and listened to owl samples until we could match the right one. #nerds )
- morning doves
- American Bald Eagle (yeah! This one Andrew saw circling above the nearby lake)

What we're hoping for:
- Cardinals (I've been putting out cut fruit in the trees to try and attract some)
- hummingbirds (feeder purchased- waiting a few weeks before they migrate up to NS!)
- purple finches
- grosbeaks (big and bossy, but pretty nonetheless)
- Blue Jays (very common in NS, but haven't seen in our yard yet)
- Pileated Woodpecker- this would be amazing!
- scarlet tanager (another reason for the fruit)

Part of our plan to attract more birds (other than simply putting up more feeders, which will happen) is to make our own suet feed (we save our bacon fat for this purpose).

We also need a bird tracking book... and we'll keep a journal!


  1. Chris says to tell you:
    - Woodpeckers like suet feeders (he used to take an old log and drill holes in it and fill them with suet, then hang it up)
    - re: keeping squirrels away - put a cage/mesh (1" or so wide?) around the feeder that is small enough to let small birds through, but keeps squirrels (and larger birds) away.


  2. I can pick up a baffle and pole for you here. just let me know. I love bird watching too.

  3. Ha! I'm a total bird nerd. In fact, we have a family with four baby chickadees right now that come to our peanut feeder. Swoon!! I know you guys just moved and it looks like, from your photo, that you have a wooded area adjacent to your yard? If you have any landscaping, I definitely recommend adding native plants. Doing this and putting down leaf litter in the fall has helped us attract tons more birds. Oh, and definitely a bird bath or pond! Have you seen those NWF photos of someone with a pond in New Mexico? They attract all kinds of animals including a bear! But one of the best photos was the owl in the pond - using it like a bird bath. Check out all the photos here:

    Finally, we use this feeder (a classic and a peanut feeder) and the squirrels absolutely cannot get to it. I could go on for hours but I'll stop now .... :)


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