A Raccoon is Eating My Suet!

Suet Feeder in the Birdbath
Suet Feeder in the Birdbath

Just as I was congratulating myself that I had gotten my various bird feeders strategically set up around my yard so that they attracted the birds I wanted to attract while keeping squirrels out of the seed . . . a new visitor from nature arrived. While I have yet to actually lay eyes on the furry creature, I’m confident that I’ve got a raccoon as a new yard visitor or resident. Here is the evidence of the critter’s crimes against my bird feeders and my strategy for (hopefully) thwarting the raccoon’s attacks on the food I put out for the birds.

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Bird Feeder Baffles in the Wind

Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the Suet Feeder
Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the Suet Feeder

Here in Maryland today, the sun is shining and the wind is gusting. It is beautiful, but gusty wind can sometimes cause problems with hanging feeders.

If you’ve got both hanging bird feeders and squirrels in your yard, you probably have baffles as well. Get the right baffle and you can succeed in both keeping squirrels out of the seed and keeping the feeder a little more protected from wet weather. But while this type of baffle can be great, when you add gusty winds to the mix, things can get very interesting. How do you keep the baffled feeder from kiting around in the wind?

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Moving a Bird Feeder

Mesh Tube Bird Feeder
Garden Treasures Metal Mesh Tube Bird Feeder

When you feed birds in a big way year-round like I do, you find that there is no perfect year-round arrangement of bird feeders because the bird population in the yard is not stagnant. Some birds seem to stick around with a fairly predictable daily schedule. Others are only here for a season and then migrate out again. Some stop by for a day or two and move on. And yet more discover the bird feeder buffet and become new regulars. Some changes in the bird population don’t make a big impact, while others change the whole dynamic of the yard and I find myself moving feeders around again to find the perfect setup for the new situation.

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Nuisance Birds at the Feeders

European Starlings Arrive at the Feeders
European Starlings Arrive at the Feeders

If you are feeding birds, it is probably because you like them. Otherwise why do it? While some backyard birdwatchers welcome all birds to their feeders, for many of us, there are birds that are less welcome. Some people don’t like House Finches. Some don’t like House Sparrows. Others draw the line at Brown-Headed Cowbirds. Red-Winged Blackbirds? European Starlings? Common Grackles? Your list may vary. What birds at your feeders do you consider nuisance birds?

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Squirrels, Poles and Baffles

Bird Feeders and Baffle on Pole
Bird Feeders and Baffle on Pole

Over the summer I thought I had come to terms with the squirrels in my yard. During these warm months they would come to the feeders for maybe an hour or so in the morning and then only occasionally during the rest of the day. The birds got plenty of feeder time so I didn’t begrudge the squirrels a little food.

But once the acorn crop was finished in the fall, the squirrel activity changed. The squirrels started hunkering down on various feeders, one squirrel per feeder, for hours. Chase them away and they come right back. In most cases, squirrels are the top of the backyard critter hierarchy, so the birds were being crowded out.

The hanging platform feeder in particular had been taken over by the squirrels when it hung in a tree with a dome type baffle above it. The only way to keep them out of it was to switch over to filling it with safflower seed instead of sunflower hearts, although if a squirrel is hungry enough they’ll eat that too! What to do?

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Baffling The Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder

Squirrel Buster Plus with Baffle
American Goldfinch and Female House Sparrow on Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder with Baffle Added

I bought my first of two Squirrel Buster Plus feeders (Brome Bird Feeders on Amazon) last summer. It is a pricey feeder even if you can get it on sale, which I did. But I reasoned that if I could keep the squirrels out of the sunflower hearts, I’d easily make back my investment in savings on birdseed purchases.

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