Man Versus Squirrel

It was the squirrel Olympics at the Webner household this past weekend.  With a new bird feeder set out and freshly stocked with tasty birdseed, the conditions were perfect for a squirrel gluttony extravaganza.

The food attracted every squirrel in the immediate vicinity.  Soon our yard was swarming with squirrels, all of them eager to show off their amazing athletic abilities.  We had squirrels racing along the tops of fences.  We had bright-eyed squirrels somehow shinnying up the thin metal pole holding the bird feeder.  We had squirrels leaping from tree branch to tree branch to better observe the festivities.  And we had squirrels improbably long-jumping from patio chair to bird feeder pole and then daintily perching on the bird feeder, munching away at rapid-fire pace and stuffing their plump furry cheeks with as much birdseed as they could hold.

IMG_1128It was a pretty entertaining show — but of course the birdseed wasn’t put out for ravenous squirrels.  It was supposed to attract cardinals and song birds, and the squirrels were keeping them away from their intended grub.

What to do?  We didn’t want to hurt the squirrels, just make them stop eating the birdseed.  We went out into the yard and made noise, but the squirrels weren’t easily intimidated.  They knew they had a food bonanza, and they weren’t going to leave until you got very close to them — which is unnerving — and they came back as soon as you left.  We tried throwing pebbles at the bird feeder, but only a direct hit had any effect, and my aim isn’t very good.

So the only choice was to apply some intellectual brainpower to try to defeat the squirrel invasion.  It was clear that the squirrels needed to use the pole to reach the food.  How to prevent that?  We could have bought or built some kind of anti-squirrel cone, but given the awesome squirrel capabilities we were seeing I wasn’t sure how or where a cone should be placed.  But perhaps if the pole were rendered too slippery for the squirrels to grab a foothold?  I grabbed a can of non-stick spray for pots and pans, gave the pole a good coating, and voila!  The next squirrel that tried to climb the pole promptly fell onto its bushy-tailed keister, with a shocked look on its face.  So did the next, and the next — and then the squirrel invasion stopped.

Later that day, we saw a cardinal out on the bird feeder, having a nosh, and my heart welled with pride that raw intellectual firepower had defeated a gaggle of yard rodents.  In this chapter of the ongoing battle of man versus squirrel, man had prevailed.