I have built the ultimate squirrel-proof bird feeder. I have defeated my arch-nemesis, Chirpy. Finally, in the end, I have won our on-going battle. I am victorious!
I know what you’re thinking. What am I going to do at the cottage all summer if I am no longer battling with my sinister rival? And, how will that rascal Chirpy actually win out again in the final paragraph of this column? Well, obviously you haven’t read the title above. This little narrative isn’t about duking it out with a bushy-tailed rodent, or about fighting with nature. No, it is about the wisdom that I am about to impart to you, the reader, so you too can become the ultimate cottage do-it-yourselfer. Or what I like to call D.I.Y., to save on my word count.
It started with a brilliant idea, one that I stole from a neighbouring cottager. He had several bird feeder stands built judiciously around his grounds, easily visible from the back deck. The feeders sat atop four by four posts dug into the ground, while old stove piping fixed halfway up prevented squirrels from climbing. “We (meaning me) could build that,” states my darling wife. She often says that about intricate building or renovation projects around our cottage, though I usually think it is her devious way of making me look foolish. Here, however, was a project that perhaps I could take on. It looked simple enough. And with a few minor design modifications of my own, I could take ownership of this little project. The Ultimate Cottage Daze Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder Stand! It kind of has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
So, off I went to the local lumber yard to pick up a twelve foot, four by four post and a handful of wood screws. I had some old metal ducting stored in the shed that I knew would come into use one day. So I dug the post into the ground, tacked on the metal to make it rodent-proof, and built a cross-piece on top from which hung too well-stocked bird feeders. Then I headed indoors to witness Chirpy’s agonized reaction to my wonderful invention.
As I peeked out of the cottage window, I watched Chirpy survey the situation, from all different angles. He looked up with his paws on his hips. He scratched his chin. He nodded his little head. Then he climbed up a nearby maple tree, walked out to the end of a branch, and let his weight droop the spindly limb down to the top of the feeder. I dissembled the post, dug it out of the ground, and moved it far from any tree or shrubbery. I put the stand back together and hid in the cottage once more.
Chirpy returned, and took in the new situation. He paced off three metres from the base of the post, turned, and sprinted up, his momentum taking him past the slippery metal (like a snowmobiler skipping their high-powered machine across an expanse of open water – for whatever reason). I dissembled the unit again and added a cone shaped metal cap. The squirrel repeated the same process and then just used the cap as something to push off of, catapulting himself higher, in a circus-like trapeze manoeuvre, grabbing the base of a feeder before swinging himself aboard.
I dissembled the unit again and added a length of stove pipe. Chirpy climbed up between the stove pipe and the post like a mountain climber scaling a chimney-shaped crevasse. I dissembled the stand for the forty-third time, and closed in the bottom of the piping.
Then I waited, peering out secretively from my window. I waited and watched and waited. I got thirsty while I watched and waited, so I grabbed a beer from the fridge and then returned to watch and wait some more. Chirpy came out and surveyed the situation. He gave it a try, but he slipped backwards and fell to the ground. He tried a couple more times, but failed. Chirpy went off to the trees. I had won – I had finally won!
For the next few days I returned to my secret spying window to marvel at my great invention. I hadn’t seen Chirpy for a week. Hard as it is to believe, I kind of missed him. So I decide to take a stroll along the forest trail telling my wife that I want to find Chirpy and gloat, but when I do see him he ignores me. I can’t help but notice that he is looking a bit thin. And is that a whole chirpy family that he has in his hole-in-the-tree home? Perhaps he has to provide for all of them.
I return to the cottage and dissemble the feeder stand one last time. I strip it of the metal, the stove pipe, and the copper cap. I build a miniature wooden ladder up the side for easier climbing and then fill the feeders with Chirpy’s favourite seed, suet and peanuts. After-all, squirrel watching is just as much fun as watching silly birds. Now, I am angered when I notice that the birds; the sweet chickadees, tiny sparrows, colourful jays and handsome woodpeckers are using Chirpy’s feeder. I run from the cottage screaming and chase them away.
So stay tuned to another season of Cottage Daze, and particularly for my next cottage workshop project, the Ultimate Cottage Daze Bird-Proof Bird Feeder! I have a plan.
Just like they do in those fancy cottage magazines – read on for the step by step design and building instructions, made easy, for squirrel proofing your bird feeders and annoying your squirrels.
Cottage Workshop – The Ultimate Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder
Materials: one 4×4 twelve foot post, a handful of wood screws, some 6 inch bolts salvaged from the last dock repair, two dock boards left over and stored under the bunkhouse, a three foot length of dented chimney pipe from two years ago when you replaced the old cottage chimney with a new insulated one, a couple pieces of two by four that had previously been used to level the barbecue, a few bent and rusty nails – (for hanging feeders), a spade with a broken handle (that you snuck to the cottage from home when your wife tried to take it to the dump), the new bird feeder you got your wife for Mother’s Day instead of flowers – (which only caused one or two problems), and some bird seed – (which your wife served you for dinner as a result of the previous miscalculation).
- Dig post 3 feet into the ground – preferably sitting straight, kind of.
- Fasten old chimney about three feet off the ground – paint to taste.
- Cap the chimney section with an old metal dome-shaped roof cabbaged from a previous squirrel-proof feeder that cost a lot of money but didn’t work.
- Bolt old dock board at top of pole, braced by odd pieces of two by four. Put in a few extra screws to secure, and add a couple of bent nails from which you can hang feeders. Should be in a ‘T’ shape.
- Hang feeders and fill with bird seed.
- See squirrel on bird feeder, so disassemble entire unit and try again, making minute adjustments to design until you succeed.
- Repeat as often as necessary, or until it is the cocktail hour on the dock.