Now, I spend hours trying to figure out these little guys and at the moment there are 3 babies, a mama and a dad. And that is the minimum number of nemeses since I have yet to take a current census of neighboring yards and trees. Sometimes I look out back and think someone is running a soccer camp in the trees with squirrels running up and down, playing, eating, or some just sit and stare at me.
My battle.....and yes, a battle.....is between my nemeses and finding approaches of keeping them away from my bird feeders. For some of my feeders, I have clearly won, well...let me qualify that statement. I have won in regards to my nemeses; the squirrels, but not in regards to my nemeses the grackles.
Now, I have one feeder in particular for Black Sunflower Seeds that nemeses genus Sciurus carolinensis (Eastern Grey Squirrel) have a fondness for. Currently I have this feeder hanging from a limb that is exactly the same distance away from the trunks of two trees and has included there-within, two baffles above the feeder. Each of the baffles is solidly on the chain which 'in theory" prevents said Sciurus carolinensis from shimmering down the chain, past each baffle and to the feeder. You see....... I figured this one out a few weeks ago. If I make the baffles so they solidly stay in place and have little 'tilt' to them, the grey squirrel, no matter how much they try....cannot easily get to the feeder without falling down. The baffles are simply too slick and they slide off as they attempt the journey from chain, to baffle, to chain, to baffle, to chain, to feeder (The sequencing being just that).
For awhile it reminded me of a Wiley Coyote cartoon as a wiley squirrel would venture down the chain, come upon the first baffle and then 'surfboard' on the top of the baffle until it fell off. The baffle being solidly on the chain, didn't allow the squirrel to push the baffle to the chain and then move downwards. Yes, I succeeded.......for awhile.
Now that worked for awhile and yet currently they are in the position of having figured it out. I have only gained small glimpses of how they have, so my work to prevent this technique from occurring again is in 'beta stages' or more like my thinking stage. I haven't got past the drawing board yet but my latest thought is going to Home Depot and getting some PFC pipe to pace the first leg of chain in, this the squirrels would slide down the chain, hit the first baffle and immediately 'surf' off, landing on the ground.
For my second squirrel prevention tactic, at first I just haphazardly had the bird feeder hanging from one trunk...oh, so close to the tree trunk that squirrels would jump from the trunk to the tree. Eeeeks,....can't have that. So with great care and measurement, I moved the entire bird feeder setup (with baffles) outwards down the branch so the feeder was situated exactly between the two trunks, each being a distance further away from the jumping distance of the gray squirrels. Or, so I thought.....
My nemeses family have trained hard and now are excellent gymnasts. One squirrel will 'run' (and I mean run)....up the trunk and 'on or about' 5 feel will take a flying squirrel leap outwards, to the bird feeder and grasp and pull itself up to safety. Now, I have seen this same 'tactic' performed in Hollywood movies such as Mission Impossible or James Bond where the producers have created almost inhuman tasks for Mr. Bond or Phelps to engage in. You see, spies....or 'movie spies' can do the damnedest things that us regular humans cannot due. They have knockdown fights balancing themselves on the top of moving trains, jump from helicopters or grab onto the same and make their way inside, or have more fights on the top of tram cars etc.... Well, you get the point...Hollywood makes these super spy heroes more than just humans in their stunt and fight antics. So....I have to ask, who has trained my squirrels? How can my squirrels take flying leaps of faith and haphazardly grasp on to the edges of my bird feeder and pull their bodies up to safety? At the moment, I don't have an answer to this one. I thought of putting a slick 'something' around the tree trunk, preventing them from making that leap of faith, but don't want prevent squirrels from doing their natural thing with trees...but just want to stop the flying leaps.
You see....I have my nemeses..... and they persist, they evolve....their super-squirrel prowlness supersedes my human ingenuity.
Yet, with this intense warfare occurring in my backyard on a daily basis....I can still sit down on a hot, sticky....sultry night in high June....and appreciate the beauty of my nemeses as they lay tiered upon a branch.. They frolic a bit, groom each other...scratch...lay content and beat and yet, they still are cute little guys, my nemeses or not.
...for the moment, until I venture to Home Depot, I have won. I simply do not fill up the Sunflower Feeder in hopes they will forget their tactics so when I do refill, I have a day or two of success. Hey, can you count all '4' tails?