Author Topic: Squirbs & Birbs  (Read 80 times)

random axe

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Squirbs & Birbs
« on: August 11, 2018, 12:05:51 PM »
Groundhog (pictures eventually forthcoming) aside, we have many squirrels and birds on our property, because why should we be different. 

We catered extensively to the chipmunks, because chipmunks are relentlessly adorable and pretty harmless.  Whereas squirrels will eat seeds, etc, right where they find them, half the time, chipmunks mostly hoard food and eat it at home, so they make far less of a mess, too.  We bought a transparent gerbil enclosure, complete with tunnels and such, and put it on our deck, with sunflower seeds, and the chipmunks immediately understood how to enter and navigate it.  Amusing for us, and the cats think it's one of the best programs on TV.

BUT squirrels and sometimes raccoons disassemble the thing with teeth and hands and possibly judicious use of explosives.  Putting the entire enclosure in the shed every night was a temporary fix, but eventually the daytime squirrel sabotage defeated it.  Now we're looking at modifying a dog crate as the outer line of defense, but other projects have demanded our time.

Meanwhile . . . .

We've gone through a variety of birdfeeder arrangements.  Although we like the squirrels, they have no sense of restraint or proportion or sharing.  One thing I've discovered is that typical dish-shaped squirrel baffles are amusingly inadequate.  Certainly a 16" diameter baffle is kind of a joke; the squirrels rarely slip off and generally just use it as a staging area.  Baffles directly above the feeders tend to distinguish our birds, but baffles on the pole are merely inconvenient to the rodents.

I think I'm going to make a much larger baffle or two (24" ?  30" ?) out of acrylic or something, ideally pebbled acrylic so the birds can see it well.  But we'll see.  I put out two squirrel corn feeders to distract the little beasts, and that's worked pretty well, although they sometimes denude a cob in about forty minutes.  I'll have to find a convenient feed'n'seed store -- Meijer's price on cow corn is almost as high as on regular corn.  Seventy-five cents per ear of corn at two ears per day means over $10 a week to distract the squirrels from the birdseed.  :nonplused:

I have some theoretically expired peanut butter and Nutella, which I was going to use as squirrel bait, too, but . . . I'm sure I'd have to bring it in at night or we'd have raccoon parties.

Onward and upward.

The groundhog greatly likes sunflower seeds and dried corn, too.  So there's that.  We're training him to go into the Havahart trap.  I wired the door open, and we put treats leading in there and at the back.  Works about half the time, so far.  He's apparently atypical and has zero interest in cantaloupe and string beans, but he does like carrots and has some fondness for apple chunks.

The training is to ensure a clean catch.  If you try and fail to trap the sucker, he'll never go into the trap again, so it's kind of a one-shot deal.  Also, if you're trying to live-trap like that, you want the weenusk to go in as quickly as possible.  You can't leave it sitting in the trap, so you have to hang around while the trap is live . . . .

mo

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 04:39:02 PM »
There was a time in my life when I thought squirrels were kinda cute, but that was long ago. Now I know they are pure evil with a fluffy tail. They occasionally eat birds. I suspect them of killing some baby bluebirds in one of my bluebird houses last year. The squirrels built a nest in the tree the bluebird house is on, and the bluebirds got defensive and probably pissed off the squirrels. If you find a way to totally defeat them at the feeder, it will be a great reward.

Chipmunks are the best, and as an animal, they really got the shaft in the defense department. If you tried to invent a better cat toy, you would inevitably fail. Cats I have never seen before appear in my yard patiently sitting for hours at the entrance of a tunnel.  The only thing negative about chipmunks is they can get carried away with the tunneling. Iíve got a few spots in my yard that make me a little nervous when Iím mowing the lawn. Iím afraid the ground is going to collapse and Iíll find myself in a pit of chipmunks.

A word of warning about the Havahart trap - a dove wandered into my trap years ago and its wing was broken. I had to put it down, and I felt terrible, still feel terrible about it.

Bird food is way overpriced. I just do the hummingbird thing now.
It's symbolic of our struggle against reality.

random axe

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2018, 09:24:00 AM »
Hummingbird feeders are awesome if you can commit to doing the filling and maintenance.  I had a situation go wrong in Ohio, many years ago, that may have led to starving hummingbirds.  Not sure, but I worried about it.


The real trick with the traps is to figure out very specific bait, and/or to train the animal you want to keep to go into the trap.  Carrots worked for our groundhog, as the birds and squirrels have no interest.  We don't get rabbits in our yard, for whatever reason, although there are plenty around.


(Eastern) Gray squirrels (which aren't always gray) are actually pretty different from (American) red squirrels (which aren't always red).  Red squirrels  mostly eat seeds and are really noisy.  Gray squirrels tend to be quieter but more destructive and also aggressively eat a wider range of things, and they more commonly eat other animals.  Gray squirrels also typically don't live as long.  Either one will raid your birdfeeder, though.


I modified one of the inverted-bowl squirrel baffles to make it tip over more easily.  The main problem with the thing is that squirrels can get a terrific foothold on the collar for it that mounts on the pole, and they can easily stand at the center of the baffle, against the pole, and hang onto the pole with one paw.  Useless.  The collar grabs the pole using three compression bolts that you tighten until the collar is secure.  I backed them out one at a a time and put a big fender washer over each one, so that the baffle is lifted off the collar a bit and sits only on the edges of the three washers.  Now it's significantly tippier.

What might work even better is if I got rid of the collar and used a pipe clamp on the pole, then hung the baffle from three wires under the clamp.  I may have to try that.

Sheet acrylic is insanely expensive -- it's one of those things where it's often much cheaper to buy a finished good made of acrylic than to buy the material itself -- so I bought a 2x4' pebble-finish translucent sheet meant to be a diffuser for a fluorescent light.  I plan to cut it in half and make two two-foot circles out of it, so I can double them up to make it stronger.  I'll glue the flat sides together.  The birds shouldn't smack into it, since it's much easier to see from a distance than the transparent baffles, but it's not oppressively dark, or anything.

If I hang that above the feeders, it'll reach their outer edges, or almost, so a squirrel hanging or sliding off the edge of it shouldn't be able to just drop onto the top of a feeder, which is what they do now.  They walk out onto a thin tree branch, bending it down toward the feeders, and then parkour their way onto the upper baffle and then onto the feeders themselves.

I'm going to set up more elaborate squirrelagigs so that they can eat on our dime and we can be entertained by it.

random axe

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2018, 09:33:36 AM »
The only issue I have with the chipmunks . . . is really a problem with vinyl siding.  One of many weak spots in the typical design and installation of vinyl siding.

Vinyl siding is almost nothing but big planks that get nailed loosely at the top and then overlap and snap together.  Really, it's like extremely thick, tough latex paint that's dried in advance, and you nail it to the house.  Mixed feelings, but it's pretty much cheaper than anything more durable and more durable than anything cheaper.

But of course there are corners and edges and windows to work around, and the planks won't do the job, there.  At this point, we get 'trim' pieces, which are designed for these edges and such, and we get contractors who make custom trim out of painted aluminum, using a big metal brake and years of experience.  The aluminum trim's quality depends entirely on the skill of the contractor, which varies about as much as you'd think.  :whatever:

The vinyl trim . . . some of it is very cleverly designed, and some is clever enough and works fine.  But outer corner pieces, at the outer vertical edges of a house, tend to be problematic.  Vinyl is typically installed over cheapass styrofoam sheet insulation that offers as much resistance to rodents as popcorn would.  If a rodent can get behind the vinyl siding, it's in snuggly heaven.

And the bottoms of the outside vertical edge pieces of vinyl siding are often left open.  It's just a vertical tunnel at the corner of the house, and because the vinyl siding pieces tend to sit slightly away from the exterior surface beneath, it's a gateway to a magical world of waterproofed chipmunk and mouse and rat-sized open spaces that are freakin' insulated and warm.

We've got this problem; I've seen way, way too many vinyl-sided houses with this problem.  You can identify it because often the bottom of these corner edge pieces will be a little roughed up, and often the vinyl soffit pieces (which are vented, generally) will be full of acorns and such that you can see if you get up close and shine a flashlight up through the holes.

There are ways of sealing up the bottoms of those edge pieces, although a lot of them aren't good.  For one thing, vinyl expands and contracts a lot, so if you fix the bottom of the piece in place (hello, expanding foam) the piece may buckle later or pull itself free or so on.  :nonplused:

Of course, as with our house, often the vinyl is run down much too close to the ground, which only makes this worse and also encourages insects to climb up under there, huzzah.  Still, I can't blame the critters.  It's like offering them an empty luxury hotel for free.

mo

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2018, 09:35:27 AM »
Hummingbird feeders are awesome if you can commit to doing the filling and maintenance.

I have a feeder hanging right outside the window. I take the screen off in the summer, so it's real simple to refill. I was having to refill it 2-3 times a day until recently. Now a hummingbird has laid claim to it and is fighting off all the others, so very little nectar is being used. I was making about 4 cups every two days, so yeah, it can be a bit of a hassle. They are totally worth it though.
It's symbolic of our struggle against reality.

pdrake

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2018, 08:43:32 PM »
you can get a 4' x 8' x 1/8" of ABS for around $20. it's textured on one side. we use it to laminate risers and other stuff like that. it''s too slick for steps and bar tops.
you'd be surprised how much a nutsack can stretch. you have to stretch it yourself, not a woman. they don't do it quite right.

random axe

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2018, 04:36:48 PM »
That's not too expensive.  The light-diffuser panel I got was about $10, so about the same per sq ft.  Pretty brittle, but so it goes.


I have the squirrelagig up, with those 'squirrel log' things on it, but so far there's only been mild interest.  They're still finishing off their cow corn, though.  Maybe once that's gone.  Gotta keep the cats entertained.

mo

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2018, 05:37:38 PM »
GIS for squirrel log:



It's symbolic of our struggle against reality.

pdrake

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2018, 05:47:11 PM »
ABS is practically indestructible.

https://www.polymershapes.com/product/abs/

you'd be surprised how much a nutsack can stretch. you have to stretch it yourself, not a woman. they don't do it quite right.

stormneedle

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2018, 10:29:17 PM »
ABS is practically indestructible.

https://www.polymershapes.com/product/abs/
So, it's Anti-Breakable Stuff?
ďI'm generalizing from one example here, but everyone generalizes from one example. At least, I do.Ē

pdrake

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2018, 01:45:30 AM »
you'd be surprised how much a nutsack can stretch. you have to stretch it yourself, not a woman. they don't do it quite right.

random axe

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2018, 02:12:54 PM »
I'm sure it's better than the 1/8" acrylic diffuser, but the diffuser panel is what the Home Depot gots in my price range.  I haven't checked, but having a single 4x8' sheet of ABS delivered to the house would probably erase the price advantage there. 

pdrake

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2018, 04:33:37 PM »
there should be an acrylic supplier near you where you can get it at will call.

if you're going to homer i'd look for FRP. it's pretty close to indestructible, too. also, textured on one side.
you'd be surprised how much a nutsack can stretch. you have to stretch it yourself, not a woman. they don't do it quite right.

random axe

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2018, 05:24:45 PM »
:hmm:

mo

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Re: Squirbs & Birbs
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 09:30:58 AM »
I used FRP to cover the walls above my fiberglass shower insert. The glue the clowns at home depot recommended was not really compatible - it didn't adhere really well to the FRP. You need something that eats into it a bit. I discovered this after I finished my project. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that mine stays up. You can drill holes in it for screws or nails if appearance isn't an issue.

Cutting it is a little tricky. They say you can score it with a blade and then snap it, but that didn't work well for me. I also tried cutting with jig saw, that was unsuccessful, I can't remember exactly why, but you don't want to breathe that fiberglass sawdust anyway. I ended up using tin snips, which is awkward and a bit painful on the hands, but it worked the best.

It's like $32 a sheet. HD has another product that's only $20/sheet, that is not fiberglass reinforced and is not textured. That might work for you. I don't know how either of these would respond to long periods of direct sunlight.
It's symbolic of our struggle against reality.