Thursday, April 14, 2011

Raccoon 1 vs. Squirrel-proof bird feeder 0

We've always enjoyed watching the frustration of the local squirrels as they attempted all manner of gyrations to get to the food in our big squirrel-proof bird feeder. We've had it for several years, and it's never failed us. The perch closes the feed bin if anything heavy lights on it, and the roof is slick and slanted so they can't perch there.

That's why we knew there was something wrong when all of a sudden about a pound and a half of seed disappeared overnight! None of our day visitors had figured out a system, and the numbers of birds visiting us has actually diminished lately. They're either all nesting or have moved to a cooler, wetter area. Obviously there was a mystery visitor.

Trail-cam to the rescue!

This little guy is tenacious if nothing else. He obviously was suspicious of the infrared flash, as he kept looking over at the camera, but it didn't seem to diminish his appetite any.

Even though the squirrels aren't big enough to perch on top and reach the food, this little guy is.

He hooks his back legs around the tree, or behind the feeder, and then shovels the grain in as fast as he can.

He drops a lot too, which I'm sure the doves enjoy.

You can imagine how much work it is to hang on like this, and the camera caught him doing a lot of turning around, slipping, readjusting his grip, and then back to eating.

The pictures here were selected out of a couple of hundred the camera caught, and aren't necessarily in order, but we can tell by the time stamps on the pictures he was up there for about an hour, and downed another pound of seed in that time. He did have to work pretty hard for it, but that doesn't help my birdseed budget much! 
After the first 30 minutes or so he gave up (see the 2:50 time stamp), climbed down the tree, then apparently thought about another snack (or perhaps he has a friend?) and by 3:16 (top photo) he was back at the table!

I'm thinking that he's getting cut off, and will have to be content with what he can pick up on the ground or in the compost from now on. At the rate he's going he's going to get fat, so I'm really just looking out for his health!