Revision 4 Needed

In the battle with the young squirrels attacking the bird feeder I lost several skirmishes. Each time I had to revise the original squirrel guard. Why am I so focused on beating the squirrels? Good question. I feed birds for my amusement. Yes, but I also feel extra sorry for them during the winter months because the food sources are greatly diminished. The squirrels have the same food shortage, but they don’t amuse me as much as the birds. Although they have given me great joy in watching them defeat my mechanisms for keeping them out of the larder.

I spend a good deal of money buying bird seed, in fact I almost swore at the checkout person the last time I paid for twenty pounds, it rang in at $45.95. Then, when I came home and left the bag unopened and unattended in the garage overnight, I found a hole had been chewed through by a resident mouse. I’m being attacked from all fronts.

Feeding a squirrel compared to a bird is like feeding a Saint Bernard compared to a Yorkshire Terrier. They consume a lot of food and eat several times a day. Not to mention that it isn’t one squirrel it can be six or more. They come from every tree in the neighborhood.

Design number one (R1) was a six inch stove pipe suspended from the feeder and surrounding the pole. The theory is that between the diameter and the slippery surface the rodents will avoid climbing the outside. Squirrels are very smart and within nano seconds they determined that the best route was to squeeze through the center of the pipe while climbing the wooden pole. I knew this would fail, but I wanted to see just how effective this deterrent would be. Zero!

The second design (R2) had me drill a series of holes around the perimeter of the pipe and to fill them with long screws. The idea was to make the squirrel hit the screw and to back down. This system lasted about fifteen seconds. They just wiggled past the screws and up the pole.

Revision 3 (R3) I added a series of wooden blocks to fill the voids between the pipe and the post. Again, it took about forty-five seconds to find a spot through which the animal could wiggle his way past. Less slender squirrels just chewed on the wood and made an opening that allowed a new highway to open.

Now for the latest version, I removed the pipe and took it to my operating room, the “Shop.” I traced the diameter of the pipe on a piece of scrap pine and cut it out on the band saw. Next, I did the same for the post. Then I screwed the filler piece to the inside bottom of the pipe. After reinstalling the pipe on the post I filled whatever little space there remained between the post and pipe with wood blocks. The results are in the video below.

See the Squirrel chewing away at wood fillers trying to find space enough to squeeze through to the pole.
Notice the pile of wood chips laying around the base of the pole.

I think this revision completes the job, but I fear he may chew through the post like a beaver and I’ll find my feeder crashed to the ground

Christmas Shopping Post Covid

Lovely and I went shopping today, and were surprised with the traffic. Most of it was in the shopping center parking lot. She was returning a blouse to Ross and I was looking for brass tubing for a project. I thought Michael’s would have it. After grabbing a couple of bottles of paint in colors I don’t have I roamed the aisles of the story searching for brass tubing. Lovely found some really cool accent pieces to help brighten our home for the holidays. I finally broke with the man-thing tradition of not asking for directions and asked. The answer didn’t surprise me, “they don’t carry it.”

I darted for the check out only to be stopped by a line about fifty yards long, and not socially distanced. We crept along as five checkout people worked their asses off to move us along. The fifteen minute wait felt like eternity, but we finally made it out. Along the way we were entertained by a cute little three year old who was helping mommy shop. Ahead of the twin pigtailed blondie was a dark haired five year old boy who was helping his grammy shop. Both kids were exceptionally well behaved and socially engaging. Thank God for them helping us pass the time of day to get through this line.

On the way home I wound up lecturing Lovely about the sanity of shopping on a weekend when all the workers of the world are home. Old people like us should shop on week day mornings or early afternoons. She didn’t argue with me only nodded her head positively, and listened dutifully.

At home, I wound up spending another hour on the computer shopping Amazon for the needed tubing. It took long because of two things: 1. too may choices, and 2. everything is made in metric. I spent quite a bit of my time converting mm into inches so I could understand what to buy. I thought I was pretty good at the inch to mm conversions, but my knowledge has been on the shelf for thirty years. The cob webs got in the way of my mental conversions. I finally made a crib sheet which was a table of mm vs inches. The tubing is now on it’s way, and I will be able to finalize my wing flapping bird with metal bushings and axles. In the meantime watch my prototype bird flap below.

221211-Whirligig-#-1

The Squirrel Guard Needs a Revision

Let the battle begin!

Two years ago, I tore down a bird feeder which had provided endless entertainment for me and the family. I was preparing to put the house up for sale, and the ratty looking weather beaten platform feeder leaned five degrees northward. I didn’t think prospective buyers would be impressed. Since then I have changed course and am not selling the house or moving anytime soon.

I have breakfast every morning at the window watching the yard, and I realized that I miss seeing the birds. In fact, the yard was conspicuously quiet of birds and squirrels. It was time to build a new feeder. What a great way to break in my newly remodeled workshop with a simple wood working project. I didn’t have a plan, but I did have a pile of grey scrap wood that was in my way, so the feeder began to take shape.

The last feeder was never painted, I rationalized that birds would be deterred from newly painted wood and left it au-naturale. This time, I had some left over paint and decided to give the bird cafeteria a fresh new look. In a few days I had completed the job, but no longer had a post to support it. It too, had been scrapped. Again, I scrounged the wood pile next to the house to find something. At first I thought a piece of PVC pipe could do the trick, but decided it was too flexible to support the heavy cafe. Aha! I spotted a twisted two by eight about seven feet long. It had such a severe twist in it that I never used it for any other job. I pulled it out and set up on the patio to rip it right down the middle to make two pieces of equal cross section. I glued and screwed them together to make a 4 x4 post. A birdie in my brain told me that burying a wooden post into dirt causes the wood to rot, and the post will go the way of many fence posts. More scrounging uncovered a sheet of aluminum. It became a simple matter to clad the end of the post with aluminum to slow decay. Finally, I painted the post and moved on to the final step.

Time was running out, and if I delayed digging a hole for the post any longer the ground would freeze and the feeder wouldn’t open for business until late spring. Two days later I finally found my post hole digger and began digging. The first twelve inches through top soil went quickly, the next ten inches was through clay and took thirty minutes of digging to accomplish, but the post went in, and I was worn out and happy. Cafe de Bird was ready. I poured a cup of bird seed onto the floor and made a bet with my wife that it would take twenty-four hours for the birds to find it. Naturally, I lost, they were pecking at seed within two hours of opening. Side by side with the birds was a young squirrel. I delayed adding a squirrel guard until I saw a need for one. Well, the need happened almost immediately.

More scrounging through my various piles of junk around the house uncovered a section of sheet metal used to form a stove pipe. It became a simple matter to cut it down to size and install it around the post. The theory of the pipe is that the diameter is too large and slippery for a squirrel to grasp and they slide off. It works. I used one on the previous feeder. I made a bet with myself that it would be a few days before a squirrel would beat this guard. I lost again. It took ten minutes for the little rodents to run up the post under the sheet metal tube. At least I made him squirm a little while he made it through. The next step is to add another deterrent inside the pipe. Would you like to bet with me about how long it will be before the creatures learn they can make a super-squirrel leap up to the cafe?

Return of the Junco

Just what is a Junco? It is a small bird about the size of a sparrow. He is black to dark grey from his beak to his tail. His belly is a pure white as is the underside of his tail feathers. He has arrived from the north because winter has set in there, and he likes warmer climates during the dark months. He will stick around until April or May when it is safe to return to the mountains of Canada to begin breeding. Why he chooses to spend his winters here where the snow and cold is almost as bad as it is in the mountains is a mystery. I use his arrival as notice that our cold season has come with him. I also use his departure or rather his disappearance as warning that Illinois will be getting hot again. He is my weather detector, and I love him.

This morning I spotted my very first Junco of the 2022 winter season, welcome birdie. Officially, winter is still two months away, but the days are much shorter and cooler. His early arrival could be a sign that we will have a very cold and long winter season.

A Little Bitty Bird Made Me Lie

A few days ago I posted a bit about the coming of spring. In it, I mentioned that the Junco, a bird from up north, left to go home. This morning as I looked out on the yard I spotted a Junco hopping around under the feeder picking up sunflower seeds. Damn, I exclaimed to myself. He made me a liar.

What I suspect is that the Juncos are migrating south to north, and this guy is late. Probably because he winters further south. It doesn’t matter except I wrote a bald faced lie in my last post. I don’t like to lie, telling lies is reserved for politicians on the stump, or defending their shoddy records. Politi-speak has evolved into something that is widely accepted even though we all know it is wrong. So then, why do we continue to vote for the people that live to tell untruths? A great example of this type of talk was displayed during the last election cycle when then candidate Biden stood before the country and said he would eliminate COVID. We all knew that was BS, but the Trump haters were so anxious to get rid of someone who knew how to run the country that they accepted that lie and many more.

Just as we all know that state run elections are running over with fraud, but the chiefs in charge continue to accept the lies told by state attorney generals who certify results. As long as those who oversee the election run by the laws in their state they cannot see the real fraud going on because they followed the law to the letter.

Another common form of lying, that is publicized, is when a politician makes a statement based on his knowledge of the facts at hand, and newly uncovered facts come up. On the basis of the new facts the old statements are now false, therefore the subject is telling a lie.

I wonder if America will ever get any of this stuff straightened out to correct the system. Until then, I have to rely on my own judgement of what is, and what isn’t a lie. Reading opposing viewpoints makes things worse because because often a lie is challenged with another lie. I tend to believe the people I want to believe in, and anyone else is a liar. I don’t think I’m alone on that point. In the meantime, I’ll try to correct my own lies with fresh news based on new facts about the migratory habits of my bird residents. Or, are they residents if they only stay here for the winter? That poses another question, just where does a migratory bird call home? Since he commutes between places one or the other must take precedence. I guess I’ll just go sit on my rock and strike a Rodin pose whilst pondering the issue.