I really enjoy visiting my parents’ house. Every time I go, there is something different or new and the other week was no different. As I was munching my muesli and gazing out of the dining room window, my eyes were drawn towards my step-dad’s latest invention: a grey squirrel proof bird feeding station.
For those of you who don’t know much about UK wildlife politics, the grey squirrels are the Bad Guys. They do not belong here. They must go back to their native countries to find nuts and buckeyes and stop chasing the nice cute red squirrels out of their British woodlands. They are space invaders and must be stopped.
This is not my personal opinion, I hasten to add. There is a big project which is organised by Scottish Natural Heritage and backed up by voluntary groups all over Scotland all dedicated to the conservation of our declining red squirrel population. The UK Red Squirrel Group would thoroughly approve of my step-father’s actions. Their website states:
“The UKRSG does not recommend supplementary feeding for red squirrels as feeding station pose many possible risks. Grey squirrels may be attracted into the area; feeding stations act as a focal point to spread disease; they entice squirrels to cross exposed route and roads (putting them in the paths of cars and cats) and artificially boost the population.
An alternative would be to encourage the growth of their preferred food plants in your garden. The best foods to provide them are similar to those they might encounter foraging in the wild:
- Sweet chestnuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Pine nuts
- Apples and carrots (other native fruit & vegetables)”
So, if you look closely at the photo you can see that the squirrel proof bird feeder is quite a simple contraption. The pole was made from an old washing line pole or something similar. A large empty paint tub has been turned upside down with a long bolt drilled through it and inserted into the pole, secured into a piece of wood. For some reason trying to climb up and over the paint tub defeats the squirrels and they can’t reach the nuts. Aha! It’s been sited far enough away from trees or a hedge so that squirrels can’t jump onto it.
If you aren’t into DIY design and technology, then as usual, a commercial alternative exists. Just Google “squirrel proof bird feeders” and the choice is dazzling. But for me, once again, it’s my step-dad’s creativity and ingenuity that truly leaves me amazed and very proud. Nice work, Peter!