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July 1, 2010

Squirrels, Birds, and Peppers... Oh My! (And Video)

Hi all,

First, here's a video...

Now... Thoughts...

  • Right off the bat, I'm reminded as to why I don't like digital zoom. Please forgive my blurriness...
  • Secondly, note the way the seed gets scattered... That may not be a terrible thing. The ground feeders have always been happy.
  • As you watch the video, you'll see the squirrel scale the very recently "Tony Chachere's-doused 4 X 4"... That speaks to a question raised by faithful reader Harry "Gipper" Morris (and I paraphrase...) "Is it true that hot pepper 'turns off' squirrels, but not birds?" Hmmm... Well, my over-priced $.02 says that it might work if hot pepper doesn't get in the way of an "urgent squirrel mission". That is, if the creatures are truly hungry/cold, they'll probably whir through whatever gets in their way short of steel... But here on Cape Cod, our approach is different... Why not just set up a feeder for the squirrels? They eat cheap seed, are fun to watch, and sadly, offer "feed" for predators. We really don't have a problem with squirrels.
  • Towards the end of the video, watch the way the birds fly upwards - stunning.

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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June 29, 2010

Squirrels and Old Books/Prints

Hi all,

First things first... Faithful reader "Gipper" Morris asked about the use of hot pepper in repelling squirrels... To answer you directly Harry, no I haven't actually tried hot pepper as a squirrel repellent. As we do sell hot pepper suet plugs, I assume that they do work. As for plain old hot pepper, I've never tried to use that to drive off the "gray menace", but, as an experiment, I just sprinkled a heaping helping of "Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning" on the 4X4 post that holds one of our feeders... (Even though we use a metal conical anti-squirrel shield, the rascals still try to rob the birds!) So let's see what happens... If they have the intestinal fortitude to go near the 4X4, they'd better bring both their gastroenterologist and their cardiologist - Tony Chachere's two main ingredients are red pepper and salt. I'll let you know ASAP if the squirrels try their normal futile raids (or if the 4X4 is even there in the coming days).

But on to another subject that hasn't gotten nearly the attention that (IMHO) it should have... That of free or nearly free bird pics and info... Take a look at just one more plate I got out of an old 1916 bird book:

Northern Pileated woodpecker.JPG

Those are Northern Pileated Woodpeckers... But the real point I'm trying to make is that the book cost virtually nothing... There are no doubt tens of thousands of like tomes out there with great artwork, great descriptions, and a sub-dollar price tag. (I was going to say that I'd bet that I could sell the plates alone and make more than a few bucks... But I couldn't do that - this beauty belongs in our home.)

Anywho... There you go - repelling squirrels and fantastic bird prints... Only on eBirdseed.com...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. Should you want any hi-res copies of old pics (copyright expired), just let me know... I'll be more than happy to scan and email to you or add to our eBirdseed.com photo library.


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June 21, 2009

Squirrel, Hummingbird, and "Snausage"

Hi all,

Got kind of a smorgasbord for you today...

One of the most common questions I get is how to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeders. Sure there are baffles and flippers and witchcraft. And yeah, the first two do work. But, the problem (for me anyway) is that I like squirrels. Besides, trying to stay one step ahead of the rodents can be daunting... So, first up is a video that was recommended by our very own CaliforniaKathryn... (This is why the wife and I give squirrels (like Don) their own feeder.)

Next subject: hummingbirds. We had a ton of activity today... Probably because it's been rainy and cool, and they simply need the food energy. Mrs. CCA got a number of good photos including the one below.

IMG_3310_400.JPG

And finally, there's the cooked "snausage"...

400_snausage.jpg

Seeing that this is the first day of Summer, 2009, I thought I might toss out my own $.02 when it comes to BBQ and food preparation... Take a look at the "meat products" above. They're done, right? Some would say overcooked. (They'd be wrong, but still, they might say it.) When we bought those brats, the package said that they were pre-cooked. And technically, I'm sure that they were. And as long as they were handled properly, shipped properly, refrigerated properly, and shelved properly, I'm sure that they were fine to eat right out of the package... But for me and mine, I'll play it just a tad safe and grill 'em 'till they glow. Besides, we honestly like the taste of slightly burnt. Like I said, that's just my two cents.

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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February 19, 2009

The Winter Ain't Over Yet

squirrel prepping for more winter_004.jpg

Sorry for the poor pic to the right... I was hustling to get a shot of "Don" the squirrel trying to bury seeds in preparation for more severe weather, and fumbled the image. (Great surprise right?)

Anyway... Long ago, I learned to watch the critters to get some sense of the oncoming weather. When squirrels like Don continue to bury food in February, expect a harsh, wet remainder for the rest of the month, and even a severe March. That prediction probably will not apply nation-wide, but my guess is that it's pretty accurate for Cape Cod. Time will tell.

Other stuff... The Great Backyard Bird Count ended on the 16th, though you can still enter your results right up until March 1. So far, it looks like there are 81,296 entries, 600 species, and 9,826,482 birds counted. Most cool. If you haven't checked out the Web site above, you really should... Remarkable stuff. (My favorite is the results page.)

Getting late... Gotta go...

See you by the feeders after we stock up for more rough weather,

CapeCodAlan


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January 11, 2009

Don the Squirrel Leaps for Suet Off NovaBird Camera

Don getting ready to jump for feeder_resized_IMG_2328.JPG

In the last post, I mentioned that one of the photographic challenges that day was an unsteady remote camera (the green box in the shot above) made all the more unsteady by the squirrel standing on said camera. (For sake of brevity, let's just call that squirrel "Don". Note his brethren in the background no doubt cheering him on.)

Anyway, Don cleverly accessed the camera via the board that I clamped to the deck railing and was prepping to jump. What that image can't show are the "Ed Norton-esque" series of gesticulations Don used to calibrate the "springiness" of the board/camera rig. (You could almost hear, "Hey Ralphie Boy, I'm going for the rendered fat... It sure beats lunch in the sewers!")

I'm not particularly proud of the next pic... This is what the tail section of a squirrel looks like as it hurdles itself towards a feeder.

Don from behind jumping_resizedDSC_0331.JPG

Moving right along... Finally we have a nice close up of Don, all hunkered down in the feeder and dining on "Pork and Seed Pâte".

Don in feeder eating suet_resized_DSC_0371.JPG

Naturally, once this series of pictures was complete, I suggested that Don retreat back to his own feeder and he waddlingly complied... Still, someone should sell tickets.

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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December 31, 2008

Getting Gomez "The Gut" Squirrel to Talk!

The scene was that of a 1950's police interrogation room - a dark cramped space with no windows, a single hanging light bulb only partly sheltered within a cheap tin shade, a set of cold metal chairs with a matching cold steel table. In that awkward, stark little smoke-filled arena sat the two seasoned combatants - Gotham's police detective Don, and Gomez "The Gut" Squirrel. And so the conversation went:

Don: "Gomez, don't you ever get tired of this? Don't you ever get tired of stealing seed and getting caught red pawed?"

Gomez: "Caught red pawed, schmaught red pawed! You coppers ain't got nothin' on me and you know it." (With that, "The Gut" leaned back, took a long draw off his unfiltered Camel coffin nail, squinted, then pointedly jabbed a silent exclamation mark with his foot. The half-naked light bulb undulated ever so slightly.)

Detective Don pondered his smug adversary for just a bit, then stood, left the room, and immediately returned with a manila folder. There was silence. Gomez fidgeted a bit and the interrogation went on.

Gomez: "Whatcha got there Don? Your third-grade homework assignment?"

Don: "No, I've got evidence!"

The detective slammed down the first bit of proof of the crime - the picture below.

goofy squirre_without seed_IMG_2189.JPG

"The Gut" went silent and then stammered out a weak excuse: "That snap don't prove nothin! All I was doin was collecting the seed so that the birds could eat it better... see?"

Almost instantly, the tension was as thick as the smoke, and Gomez ground out his cigarette in rage.

Don: "Is there anything that you want to say, because I've got one more picture?"

There really was no place for words... The next picture spoke volumes.

goofy squirrel_with seed_don_IMG_2190.JPG

"The Gut" slumped in his chair, defeated, girth everywhere.

Gomez: "Who was it that squeaked? Who turned me in? Was it 'Sammy Seeds'"?

Don: "No."

Gomez: "Was it 'Three-Toed Louis'"?

Don: "No."

Gomez: "'Chippy Chips The Cross-Eyed Roughian'"?

Don: "No... No... No... It was your old pal, 'Lefty Lafayette'".

Gomez "The Gut": "Ohhh dag nab it... I should have known it would be him!" Once he gets a snoot full of peanuts, he'll sell his own grandmother for just one stinkin' sunflower seed."

Don: "Look... What are we going to do with you? You're a poster rodent for the cause of recidivism. You simply can't stay away from the birdseed."

The question seemed to linger in the air forever, but finally Gomez "The Gut" Squirrel threw out an idea: "Suppose you set up a separate feeder for just us four-legged reprobates? In trade, if you do that, we'll leave the birds alone, act as a warning system for predators, and you can yell at us to boot."

Detective Don paused, almost began to speak, then paused again, and finally proffered a gruff: "Yeah, OK... Just get out of here."

As Gomez left he turned to see a slight smile on Don's face.

See you gumshoes by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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October 10, 2008

Flying Squirrels on Cape Cod?

Hi all,

Yeah, I didn't believe it either. The other day I bumped into old friend Bruce G., who matter-of-factly told me that he and his better half had seen a flying squirrel right here in Harwich. Riiight I balked. The response was a sincere, "No really, we saw a flying squirrel. Ok... I hadn't heard of such, but it's possible, right?

After coming home, doing some research (and eating a bit of crow if you will), it turns out that flying squirrels have been spotted on Cape Cod.

So what have we got here? According to the experts at (MassWildlife), what Bruce saw was either the Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) or the Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus).

Not sure about the species of the one above (think it's a Southern), but the characteristic patagium skin between the front and back legs is pretty tough to miss.

So... We do have flying squirrels on Cape Cod. And we also have hybrid coyotes/wolves. What's next? Manatees in Dennis?

Arghhh! That's it, I'm going for a wildlife photo hunt for pics of Bigfoot playing canasta with a chupacabra in Harwich Port.

See you by those skeptical feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 17, 2008

More on Hurricane Ike, and Crows and Squirrels as Warning Signals

Hi all,

Before we get started, here's another quick reminder that Hurricane Ike absolutely devastated a sizable chunk of this country, and well over a million people are in trouble... If you want, you can use the information below to help out.

  • Web site: The Red Cross
  • Phone: 1-800-REDCROSS /1-800-257-7575 (Español)
  • U.S. Mail: American Red Cross National Headquarters 2025 E Street, NW Washington, DC 20006
Also, keep in mind that our backyard bird photo contest continues and doesn't end until September does. You can see the current entries in our eBirdseed.com photo library

Onward...

sunbathing squirrel_1_resized.JPG

Yup, he looks fat and happy. It seems that he's eaten his fill and just settled down for a bit of sunbathing. Notice how he uses the lid bungee as a sort of safety belt. What a gas!

The next photo is that of a squirrel trying to steal an ear of corn. All you can see is "The Claw". Good stuff.

The claw_ resized_DSC_0263.JPG

And on a related note... Both the squirrels and crows have become quite good at acting as alarms for the other birds that there's a predator in the area. In general, when we hear a racket kicking up out back, we know that there's a hawk, fox, coyote, or cat around and that it's time for us to pick up the camera and slowly ease towards a good shot for a photo. I don't even try to go out on the deck anymore. Instead, I just ease into position in the kitchen or living room and see what I can see. Over the last few days, we've had a large Red-tail, and a couple of appearances by a fox. We didn't get any decent photos though - either the creatures were moving too fast, or the camera decided to automatically focus on the wrong thing. Grumble, grumble, grumble...

See you by those blurry feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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September 3, 2007

Revisiting the Backyard Feeder Raider - The Squirrel

Hi,

There are some interesting posts in the works, but for now I didn't want to leave you hanging. So I thought it might be neat to revisit the old backyard rapscallion - the squirrel!

DSC_0055_400_enh.jpg


We've noticed something interesting here concerning these rodents... We offer them ample seed, water, and "rural backwoods" habitat, but their population remains at a dozen or two. As best as the wife and I can tell, the squirrels act as a sort of "buffer zone" for the birds. That is to say that red-tailed hawks, cats, dogs, fox, and coyotes will all attack the easiest prey first. Fortunately, that means that our birds usually go unmolested. But unfortunately for the squirrels, that equates to a rather brutal form of population control.

But we still enjoy the little rascals. Note in the photo above how the squirrel has wedged himself between the feeder and the bungee cord that holds the top on. Clever little buggers.

I can't leave this post without noting the obvious. This is fall, and the furry mischief makers are going to try to bust into your house. An earlier post, Keeping Out the Squirrel Menace might help. (By the looks of the photo in that post, I'd better go check the security of that screen!)

See you by the gnawed feeders,

CapeCodAlan
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May 22, 2007

Having Fun with the Squirrels

We warned you. We really did. We told you that we were going to take a simple shepherd's crook, and use a bungee cord, a large screw eye, and some cable ties to hang an ear of dried corn off the crook just out of reach of a standing squirrel. Enter the jumping rodents!

First the rig...

P5213430_400_enh.jpg
(Note the rather obvious NovaBird camera in the foreground.)


All told, the Nova' managed to snap roughly 150 pics today. Of those, 100 were of an ear of corn swinging in the wind. And only one or two of the remaining 50 were worth publishing. Those shots follow... (Note: You can see all the pictures at our New England Bird Picture Library.)

DSC_0060_reach_400_enh.jpg


DSC_0160_400.jpg


Obviously, we don't make the squirrels perform gymnastics every day... But it is fun on the occasion. And it does provide corn for the ground feeders below...

Just watching the squirrels swinging in the breeze by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan
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May 8, 2007

Goofy Squirrels!

There comes a time when a writer has beaten a story to a pulp. Probably, my coverage of the NovaBird camera has reached that point. Let's just say that from now on (or until further notice), the pictures posted on this blog were either taken with the NovaBird or the Olympus 2100. If you'd like to know the camera used for a particular photo, please contact us via the "comment" button below, or email me directly at: capecodalan@ebirdseed.com.

There... That being said and done, let's talk about the squirrels. Years ago, Mrs. CapeCodAlan and I set up a separate feeder for the squirrels. That worked like a dream; the squirrels left the birds alone, and everyone was happy. But what we didn't expect was the fun that squirrels would bring into the back yard. (Watch for an upcoming post depicting the all-out madness of a bungee-cord rig we'll use to dangle ears of corn off a shepherd's crook... And while the subject has come up... For heaven's sake, never buy or use a two-part shepherd's crook. Both birds and squirrels can and do get caught in the "V"-shaped joint where the crook meets the main shaft of the post. Always use a single-piece shepherd's crook that has simply been bent into shape as in the photo below.)

Shepards%20Crook_1_300_enh.jpg


Anyway, squirrels can be a blast... The following photo shows a squirrel doing what the wife and I call "putting on the seat belt". That is to say that he has wedged himself between the feeder and the bungee cord that keeps the top on the feeder. Once safe in the "seat belt" squirrels will typically lie down and enjoy an "all-you-can-eat" buffet.

DSC_0046.JPG


Now here's an inquisitive little fellow... Note the ear.

DSC_0052_looking%20at%20cam_400.jpg


In any event, squirrels can be a boatload of fun when kept at bay. (See Keeping Out the Squirrel Menace for help with that issue...)

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan
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October 7, 2006

Keeping Out the Squirrel Menace

Hi all,

One of our faithful readers has raised the question of what to do when squirrels invade our living spaces. That's a good question, and one the wife and I are plenty familiar with. Some suggestions...

  • The first thing to do is get ALL the squirrels out of the house! This may be a family or team effort, whatever it takes--just get them out.
  • Next, find out how they're getting into your home and stop them! See the picture below and note both the plywood and the screen mesh that my wife and I use for keeping out the squirrels. (This also works for mice, chipmunks, raccoons, bats, birds, and other creatures who might like to live rent-free.)
  • attic vent1.JPG

  • You may need to do this with the help of a professional, but I strongly recommend that things like poison be avoided. (Trust me, you DON'T want a dead animal rotting in your dwelling.)

  • You may want to invest in a catch-and-release trap (such as Hav-a-heart)

  • There are also electronic devices available these days which supposedly will scare the little rascals out.

  • Be sure to keep tree branches, shrubbery, vines, trellises, etc., away from the house. All of these simply function as squirrel ladders!

In any event, it's entirely possible to happily co-exist with squirrels without co-habitating with them!

See you by the feeder,

Alan

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