Comes now 2017. The Year of the Squirrel, whom you resolve to rid from your yard, your castle, and your bird feeder in the days ahead. Despite your best efforts, 2016 was a disaster. But now help has arrived. Most squirrels I have encountered over the years are very clever. Perhaps not so clever as the raccoon, several of which we have raised from eye-dropper feeding to adult-hood crawfish munching. But that is another story. Squirrels are truly multi-faceted; cunning, mischieveous, resourceful, skillful, adroit, ingenious, adept, and acrobatic. Above all else, everyone knows you can’t outsmart a squirrel, because squirrels are (big word here) perspicacious. For those living in Michigan, that means “shrewd.”
Far shrewder than average bird lovers (us) who attempt to prevent their pilfering by purchasing expensive ‘squirrel proof’ feeders. Nonetheless, I am now perfecting the ultimate method of discouraging this acrobatic kleptomaniac, and I’m going to tell you here and now, free of charge, how to make your New Year’s resolution come true in ten easily understood, executable steps to out-fox Mr. Squirrel.
Step 1: Stick with your present non-squirrel proof feeder, and purchase one of those big black domes for $19.95 (that are made from 50 cents worth of plastic), that can be hung above the feeder and which wobbles like crazy when Mr. Squirrel leaps to it from roof or tree, causing him to fall off on his little furry keester with nary a purloined morsel.
Step 2: When that immediately fails, and thirty-seconds later you again see him, hanging upside down on the feeder enjoying your feathered friends’ lunch, go calmly to the medicine cabinet and take out your all-purpose jar of Vaseline, even though noting on the label there is no mention of squirrel determent.
Step 3: Smear the entire plastic dome with a generous coat of Vaseline. The resulting greasy surface is impossible to grip by even the sharpest toe nails,
and I can assure you that that right there oughta do it. So long greedy Gus!
Step 4: Next, when you see Sir Squirrel munching again, lower the entire assembly, or move it to a new location altogether, where there is no way for Evil Squirrel-eval to jump down or up to the feeder by virtue of the now un-jumpable distance you have shrewdly placed between him and meal-time. Leave the dome in place. You paid 19.95 for it.
Step 5: On the off-chance that Step 4 is an abject failure (Vegas odds are
about 20-1 the off-chances will win), purchase one of those $12.95 black iron shepherd’s crooks on a 6 foot or so smooth half-inch in diameter rod (made of $1.00 worth of steel) which is totally and absolutely impossible to climb; especially when you add the black $19.95 plastic dome beneath the feeder which now hangs from the crook. By the way, your skin in the game is now $32.90. Generously coat both rod and dome with the same vaseline that did not work before. Slather more generously this time.
Step 6: Put your newly slickened pilfer-proof feeder way out in the yard away from everything else so there is no leaping-off point. Where there is no way to reach the feeder except by climbing what we professionals call the Slippery Pole of No Way Jose. Now, go in the house, relax, pour a cup of hot coffee, and enjoy watching success at work from the warmth of your recliner.
Step 7: When you see Mr. Squirrel back on the feeder, take a few moments over a second cup of coffee, or other adult beverage, to think deeply in what ways you have failed, and concentrate on what your next strategy will entail. It always helps to do a little research.
Step 8: Go on the internet and read what thousands of others have done to prevent squirrel theft. Many are amusing, some desperate. Pay particular notice to the last sentence of each entry. If it states: “Next, I tried the following,” you’ll not want to try that remedy.
Step 9: Refresh your adult beverage (you are now well beyond the coffee stage) and think again, more deeply. If nothing comes to mind, it is time for the ultimate, sure-fire solution. You’ll discover it by reading Step 10.
Step 10: This is the most critical step of all. It may require a ladder. If it does, put it in place, read the small label on the side rail that suggests not climbing when drinking adult beverages, and climb slowly. First, carefully unhook the chain or fastener from whatever the feeder is hanging from and take it down. If it is hanging from the gutter, do not pull the gutter down with it. Now, here’s the tricky part. Very carefully weave your way indoors, carrying the feeder without spilling seed, and attempt to pour it back into the original bag (optionally just pour the food on the floor). Toss the feeder and the dome on the pile of stuff slated for your Spring garage sale. Or, better still donate it to Goodwill. Keep the shepherd’s crook on which to display a nice floral arrangement come Spring. Put the Vaseline jar back in the medicine cabinet, unless you have used it all.
That’s it. That simple. Congratulations! You’ve done it! So long, goodbye forever Mr. Squirrel. Do recognize of course that you have also thrown out the baby with the bathwater. The birds, however, will survive. Note that they have already begun congregating on the neighbor’s feeder, and … why there’s old Ed now, putting up one of those big black domes.
Note to environmentalists and other animal lovers: The author often allows squirrels an extra minute or two to feed on cold wintry days before banging on the window. That crooked little squirrel smile is truly heart warming. In next week’s column, we will discuss building a raccoon-proof goldfish pond in your backyard. For a more detailed, unabridged guide, look for my new book: “How to Readily Repulse Perspicacious Racoons.” Also, you might find another of my recent books helpful, perhaps necessary; a do-it-yourself guide (with pictures) entitled: “Gutter Repair Made Simple”
Mel Grossman is a local resident and guest columnist.