When a squirrel decides that your bird feeder must surely be a food source you put out just for him, what can you do? You might think that you have to accept that if you have squirrels and feed birds that they will be getting into the feeders and there is nothing you can do about it. But after many years of feeding birds, I have found that you don’t have to give into squirrels. You just need to observe how the squirrels are getting into the feeder(s), think creatively and be willing to consider and try a variety of possible solutions.
Location. Location. Location. Where you put a bird feeder matters. You want to place it where it is close to cover . . . but not where a cat or other predator can hide to pounce. You want to place it within three feet of a window or more than thirty feet out to reduce window strikes. You want to place it so that squirrels can’t reach, climb or jump to the feeder and so that raccoons can’t grab it and carry it off. And you want to place it so you can see it!
But what if you’ve done all that and have your feeder in what you think is a good spot and it is full of fresh seed that the species of birds you are hoping for will like? Will the birds find the feeder? How long might it take? Here is what I’ve learned about adding or moving bird feeders in my yard:
I seem to have a growing collection of bird feeders. Some women can’t stop buying shoes. I can’t stop buying bird feeders. Just when I think I’ve got the yard set up perfectly, some bird dynamic changes, I look for a solution and there I am buying another bird feeder!
The problem I was having was a real pain . . . or a non-problem depending on your point of view. While all birds have their good and bad qualities (as seen by humans), I have mixed feelings about Common Grackles. While I think their feathers can be very beautiful in the sunlight and they are quite clever, their manners at the bird feeders don’t endear themselves to me. They tend to arrive in groups and if they like what they find in a feeder, they’ll hang around all day, dominating the feeders quite aggressively, not letting other birds have a chance.
I only have grackle issues periodically, mostly in the spring when they are moving in really large groups. But this year, a small group of them settled into our neighborhood, decided they liked my feeders and didn’t move on. With a crowd of grackles on the feeders, I was hardly seeing the Carolina Chickadees, White-Breasted Nuthatches and Tufted Titmouses that have been yard regulars for years. Even the finches and sparrows were getting scarce. What to do?