Perhaps I've mentioned it in previous posts at one time or another, but I have a good-sized yard where I live. It's full of trees, mostly pines and oaks, that are homes to a whole bunch of squirrels (eastern grays), as well as a good variety of birds (mockingbirds, cardinals, bluejays, and numerous others).
For years I have made a practice of putting out food for these wild animals, in a corner of my yard. This started years ago when my kids were young, initially as a way to get the boys involved in observing and appreciating nature, but then after they were grown, we kept the feeding going just for the fun of it.
The feeding part evolved pretty quickly into my setting up a concrete birdbath along with a bird feeder on a pole next to it. The concrete birdbath is still going strong after forty-plus years of use, and still serves as a bath/water source for the birds and squirrels, but I have run through a number of pole feeders during that time.
What would happen is that I would buy and install a plastic pole feeder, it would last a few years, but then, being plastic, it would eventually wear out, and I would then replace it with another plastic one, and the cycle would repeat over the years.
Well, a couple of weeks ago I realized that, once again, it was time to get and put up a new feeder. But this time I decided I would do it a little differently. This time, I would do right by my little yard friends, and put up something with a little class to it, as well as something with better durability.
So I did some shopping and found and bought a nice brass pole feeder, which both looked good in the yard and was likely to outlast its plastic predecessors by many years.
It looks pretty much like this:https://www.walmart.com/ip/perky-pet-2-lb-copper-holly-berry-gilded-chalet-wild-bird-feeder/28640619?wmlspartner=wmtlabs&adid=22222222222019341156&wmlspartner=wmtlabs&wl0=e&wl1=o&wl2=c&wl3=10355230488&wl4=pla-4578847499587159:aud-807615483&wl5=&wl6=&wl7=&wl10=walmart&wl11=online&wl12=28640619_10000011259&wl14=brass%20bird%20feeders&veh=sem&msclkid=974b98763f97199a1605f8f121ef1a52&gclid=974b98763f97199a1605f8f121ef1a52&gclsrc=3p.ds
But there was actually another reason why I bought and put up this particular style of feeder, that is, one with a large ring-dish (and bird perch) at its base.
Like most homeowners who put out food for their yard animals, I had had ample opportunity to observe that squirrels quickly become masters at sizing up, climbing, and dominating pole feeders meant to provide food for the yard's birds.
Can't blame them, I suppose, since from their perspective a bird feeder is just an odd-looking squirrel feeder to them. But in an effort to insure that the birds in attendance also had a food source of their own, I bought and installed on a pole the brass feeder with the idea that the firm brass ring-dish at the base, in addition to being a place for the birds to perch, would be just the thing to prevent marauding squirrels from shimmying right up the pole and hopping directly on to the feeder, and helping themselves.
After all, they would have to somehow go up the pole, reach out and grab the outside of the ring-dish, then somehow flip themselves up over it, and manage to land on the feeder, all of that before they could get at the food.
Surely a hardy challenge for any squirrel!
I thought to myself as I finished putting up this pretty, shiny brass new feeder: I've definitely outsmarted those squirrels!
So the new feeder went up. No activity on it for a couple of days or so (it was new, and the animals were a bit wary of it at first), but after a few days I noticed that a few birds had discovered it, and were starting to land on it, and helping themselves to the seeds.
"Good," I thought, "it will be a bird feeder as I intended." And to confirm my conclusion, I decided to sit out in the yard for a while one day, several yards away from the pole, with beverage in hand, and observe what I thought would be the birds eating happily at the feeder, while the squirrels stood by able only to watch.
I did so for a while, until eventually a squirrel did run up to within a few feet of the pole, stopped and stood up on its little hind legs, front paws up against its chest, staring intently at the pole feeder. I honestly believe he was studying it, trying to figure it out.
Then, after a couple more minutes or so, in a flash, he ran over to the pole, jumped on it, shimmied right up it, grabbed the edge of the brass ring with a paw, hurled himself up and over the ring, landed on top by the feeder, and immediately began gobbling up the food.
All of this occurred in a space of about
So much for outsmarting the squirrels.
Oh well, I'll compensate on the side of the birds by refilling the feeder generously on a very frequent basis, so that even while the squirrels are hogging it, the birds, since they "eat like birds," will still be able to get enough food.
Must be something in the evolution of squirrels that tells them how to deal with poles and brass feeders.