Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Squirrel Nutbox

This metal nutbox is another one of my "sale" items purchased while I was a Wild Birds Unlimited employee. Even though there were no squirrels visiting my yard two years ago when I mounted this box to a tree, I was reasonably certain that some day I would have some squirrels intelligent enough to figure out how to use this cute little feeder

Earlier this spring, one squirrel began showing up regularly. I noted (from close scrutiny through binoculars) that this squirrel was a female who was feeding little ones. I started putting some pecans in the shell out in the ground feeding tray and she would come and bury all those nuts in the yard.

Well, lo and behold, several weeks later, some more squirrels started showing up. They were gray squirrels, a little smaller than my regular visitor, and I assumed they were her children.

Then I got curious....what if I put some peanuts in the nutbox on the tree? Will they figure it out? Maybe I'll put some on the outside porch and then a few inside to see what happens?

Those nuts were there for a few days and then one day I checked after work and all the nuts were gone with only shell debris on the ground below. Oh cool, I thought, they've figured it out.

Then I started filling it with the pecans plus peanuts in the shell.
Of course I was at work all day, but one Saturday when I was out pulling some weeds, I heard the little metal lid go "clink." Sure enough, there was a squirrel sitting on the front porch.

Some of the squirrels are a little possessive of the nutbox, so sitting on top of the lid prevents any other squirrels from getting inside!

Now I know those of you with squirrel infestation problems are probably just shaking your heads and saying, "Ruthie, you don't know what you're getting into," and maybe some day I will regret encouraging these squirrels, but for now, they seem to be behaving themselves and if they get in too much mischief, I just let the dogs out to remind them not to get too comfortable around here. (Of course, they're much too quick for my dogs to catch, but everyone gets a little thrill for a few minutes!)

And really, why would I want to give up such entertaining sights as these?

In case you're wondering what that orange cord is, it's an extension cord I've got plugged in to a light that's secured to a branch in the tree. The light's on a dusk-to-dawn timer and shines on the ground feeding tray under the tree....to illuminate any nighttime critters (deer, foxes, and raccoons) that might happen to be visiting when I get up in the middle of the night to take the dogs out.


Larry said...

I used to rid my yard of squirrels by relocating them-waste of time -baffles work better.-As long as you enjoy them-that's all that counts-I need to keep an eye on my backyard at night.-I found squirrel pelts in the yard-Maybe Coyotes?

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
I'm not sure what would leave just the pelts...is the head still attached? I occasionally find headless dead rabbits and know the great horned owl was an overnight visitor, but I'm thinking a coyote or fox would probably eat the whole squirrel.

Lynne said...

You can have all my squirrels Ruthie!! I'll put them all on a bus!! You know honestly though, I do think they're clever and entertaining and I really don't mind that they take a share of the food. I just wish they weren't so destructive.

RuthieJ said...

I'm LOL, Lynne....there's a shuttle bus that runs from the MSP airport to Rochester several times a day and I'm imagining that scene in my mind's eye!
So far, my squirrels have behaved but I'm pretty sure it's because there's so much available food (mainly corn & peanuts) right there on the ground for them.

MOM said...

Just read your squirrel blog, aren't they fun, but oh my, they can be so mischeivous. I love to watch their antics along with the chipmunk under our front ramp who frolics under the front bird feeders. Our outside cats haven't found out about him yet, it's days might be numbered. It stuffs it's cheek pouches and then under the ramp it scampers, it also runs up and down the ramp. As far as I know there's only one.
We have a lot of squirrels what with all the trees we have.

RuthieJ said...

I saw a squirrel sitting in your tree out in front on Sunday...he seemed to be looking for an ear of corn. I didn't see the chipmunk and hopefully he will evade the cats for a while yet.

KGMom said...

Oh Ruthie--do you know what you are doing? Truer words were never spoken.
All the squirrels around here are driving me nuts--this summer they have been digging up my bulbs, digging up some newly planted perennials, digging up everything.
I am chartering a bus--and my squirrels will join Lynne's squirrels--arriving at your place very soon!

Mary C said...

Great photos, Ruthie. We have a box for the squirrels, too, in our back yard. It helps a little to keep those pesky little guys away from the bird feeders. But when you've got "teenagers" running rampant, they'll chew on anything, including our sprinklers. They also do the same thing KGMom wrote about - digging up bulbs, etc. and leaving a mess of the soil all over the patio. But I still find them cute (most of the time). :) We also have a couple of dogs (my son's dogs) that stay out in the back yard, and that helps a little with "controlling" the squirrels - they keep their distance!

Jayne said...

I'm with you Ruthie... as long as they all behave nicely they can eat. I love your feeder and I can imagine watching them eat from it is so much fun.

Mary said...

That last photo is so funny! I would do the same. Maybe a squirrel box would keep them out of my bird feeders! They're costing me way too much money in seed - I can't keep up with them. My next step is to move the baffle lower on the pole but I don't think that'll make any difference. They're excellent fliers and acrobats.

You are very clever!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Donna,
In my yard it's the moles that are driving me nuts. There's tunnels everywhere and big piles of dirt under my birdfeeders and other places throughout the yard. They have been much harder to get rid of and certainly aren't as cute as squirrels.

Hi Mary C,
I'm really surprised the squirrels (or bunnies) haven't chewed that orange extension cord yet. Maybe it's just beginner's luck that they haven't wrecked any of my feeders or gardens.

Hi Jayne,
They're getting pretty brave too. I have to get really close to them before they give up the food and run away.

Hi Mary,
I love that last picture the best also. What a stroke of luck for me to actually catch her in that position. They are such clowns. Maybe if they weren't such pigs people would like them better!

Martie in Taos said...

Oh Ruthie...I was thinking of you a couple of days ago when we discovered a major break-in to the bird seed storage containers...my husband was trusting enough to leave them in our carport, and the squirrels chewed through horrendously thick plastic to get to the goodies...I could write volumes on our love/hate relationship with our squirrels. I love the Thompson squirrels, but the more ordinary brown squirrels are turning out to be unwanted campers...last winter they almost complete excavated all of the beds next to our home and made their winter homes near or under our foundation. And last night, my husband swears he saw a prairie dog in our yard, which would be very unusual...and horrible. I am hoping he's wrong!

mon@rch said...

squirrels are soo much fun to watch!

Larry said...

All that was left was a patch of fur+skin with no meat on it.