Let us step back in time a couple months to the start of this saga...
As you may recall, last fall we started putting out bird feeders and over the winter we were very pleased with the variety and volume of birds that visited on a regular basis. We occasionally had some other woodland critters come around and help themselves to the bird feeders, namely squirrels and deer.
The squirrels were entertaining enough that we did not mind (too much) that they spent hours each day dangling from the feeders as they picked through to get the choice seeds and dropped the rest on the ground. We have several bird species that prefer eating from the ground, so the seeds tossed out by the squirrels did not go to waste.
|The Deer Feeder|
First, we decided to remove any bird feeders from being within reach of the deer. We did provide the deer with a seed block, so they did not seem to mind the loss of the feeders to much. We had been hanging a couple feeders from wrought iron shepherd hooks, the style generally used for hanging flower basket. The deer (and squirrels) could access these quite easily, so we stopped using them and attached a curved hook onto a tree trunk, at a height that the deer could not reach. With this move, we vanquished the deer, but the squirrels continued to offer them aid by knocking seed to the ground so that the deer could forage. The squirrels also became demolition experts in that they would pull apart and/or chew off sections of the plastic feeders so that the seed would pour out onto the ground. Needless to say, we preformed hardware upgrades, replacing the plastic feeders with squirrel teeth resistant metal versions.
|Basketball Hoop Feeder|
Ahh, a truce. The birds were feeding, the squirrels were entertaining (and feeding) and the deer were no longer destructive. All was peaceful on the home front, until....
All out war was instigated by new visitors (aka the enemy)... raccoons. We had not seen any raccoons on the property all winter, but this spring and summer several things changed that probably played crucial roles in bringing the enemy to our door. First, I planted a garden. When I put tomato plants in containers on our deck, I quickly realized I needed to surround them with chicken wire as some type of 'critter' was digging them up at night. Next, one day as I was filling the basketball hoop bird feeder, the cross-timber gave way from the tree and the feeder, hoop and 2x4 came crashing down... on my head!
The final impetus to our soon to be declaration of war was the lack of birth control within the raccoon community. Early in the summer, Alan would go out on the deck at night, shine a flashlight up into the tree branches, and there would be several cute baby raccoons staring back at him. Fast forward a couple months and those nocturnal critters of destruction are no longer cute, and no longer up in the trees.
|Attempt #1: |
Bring feeders up to the deck
Extend feeders away from deck
|War Time Destruction|
|A Wounded Soldier Returns|
We were not yet ready to surrender, so back to the drawing board. The weight of the full bird feeders was causing the lengths of conduit to bend downward (even before the weight of the raccoon was added to it each night). We decided engineering an upward slant to the conduit would do the trick. We assumed the raccoons would not be able to climb up a sloping steel rod. Alan cut small wedges of lumber and inserted them between the deck rail and the conduit.
|A Wedge Was Added|
Angle the pole upwards
Grease the pole
|The Raccoons 'Pooh-Pooh-ed'|
Our Fortification Attempts
At this point, we truly believed we had won not only that battle, but the entire war. For several days we woke up to feeders that still had a seed supply, despite the sound of the pitter-patter of raccoon feet on the deck during the night. However, the enemy is persistent and apparently lithium grease dissipates (or possible raccoons licked it off) because after about a week, we once again woke up to empty bird feeders.
At this point, I fear we may have reached the point of loosing a bit of our sanity. We are now determined to stop the raccoons at all cost. Alan brought out the big guns (no, not literally as I am not prepared to try raccoon stew ...yet). Out came strips of lumber, power driver and nails. We have now created one more line of defense on the deck railing. So far, this has been a bloodless war, although I had feared I would wake up to bloody paw prints on the deck after our last reinforcements. If this has not convinced the enemy to surrender, the pellet gun may be the next item in the arsenal against this formidable foe.
|Hmmm, I wonder if the raccoons|
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