This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.
If lockdown has taught me one thing it is that squirrel-proof bird feeders are a complete misnoma.
And any firm or charities that claims there is are not telling you the truth in their advertising blurb.
One of the few joys I have experienced working from home over the past three months is watching the birds arrive.
The back table I sit at each day faces out on to our garden and, as such, I can glance out and see flocks of our feathered friends feasting on the food I put out each morning.
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Little ‘uns like robins, great tits, blue tits, goldfinches, long-tailed tits and dunnocks have been competing with the big bullies such as the jackdaws, magpies and wood pigeons for the seed, peanuts and suet cakes I have been placing on the feeders.
A family of rooks appear to think they own the bird table, arriving every morning like Al Capone’s henchmen to greedily feed on what I've left out.
But as bold as their claim is, they simply cannot compete with the King of the Feeders – our resident garden squirrel and his family of crafty thieves.
At the start of the spring I bought some new feeders, aware that last year's had been bashed around by the same gang of swines.
“Squirrel-proof” the sticker said in the shop.
“We’ll see about that,” I said to Mrs Naylor as we got to the cash register.
The following morning I filled it with peanuts and sat back waiting for my working day to start.
An hour later it was lying on the ground like a cowboy shot from his horse in a Western film.
My nemesis and his marauding mob were around it greedily filling their fat-pouched gobs with the – not inexpensive – nuts that were meant for the birds.
Determined, I stormed out, rescued what was left of the food and put it back on its perch with an angry flourish.
By 11am I glanced out to see him dangling upside down from it by his back feet and staring at me through the window - effectively sticking two furry fingers up.
Three months on and the feeder is a sorry mess with so many holes ripped out of its “squirrel-proof” metal mesh it barely holds any nuts at all.
Remember that scene towards the end of the movie Jaws when a wet-suited Richard Dreyfuss is lowered into the ocean in an anti-shark cage which is ripped apart in minutes by the giant fish?
That’s what said feeder now resembles.
There are videos online of bird-lovers like me offering tips and advice on how to stop squirrels stealing the grub meant for the feathered ones.
Greasing poles with lard or oil is one piece of advice but I’m not convinced this works.
There is even a terrific five-minute video of an American guy with far more time on his hands and know how who has set up an entire obstacle course designed to test the squirrels who come and feed in his garden.
It takes them but moments to work out how to by-pass the Gladiators or American Ninja-inspired traps he has clearly spent days, or even weeks, working on.
Even as I started writing this piece, early on Wednesday morning, I have looked up from the screen to see my buck-toothed enemy and his clan helping themselves to grub for the birdies.
I really should admire his ingenuity.
Perhaps I should give him a name?
Maybe not, it probably won’t be one suitable for publication.