My dad was big into birds of prey for a while when I was a kid. I remember one spring he built a kestral house hoping to attract the little hawks to the house to keep the pigeons at bay. Dad was immune to the thought that a bird as small as a kestral would prove to be a threat to pigeons, but what did I know, I was ten. Dad was so excited when he saw signs of life in his nesting box, but was soon disappointed to find squirrels had moved into the place. Every year after that, we had baby squirrels living in the kestral house under the eaves of the garage. Until the year my dad took it down to paint the garage. I can still hear him muttering how much he hated effing squirrels.
We are nature lovers here at my house. Long time bird lovers and have fed the birds for ages. When we lived more rurally, we fed the birds and the ground squirrels were attracted undermining the hillside. Once we moved the bird feeder, the squirrels seemed to move on. For a while we even attracted some snakes by feeding the birds. Again, moving the feeder seemed to make the difference. The spring we moved we had ravens coming to the feeder. A first after ten years, and now we were leaving.
We feed the birds at the new place. We don’t get a feeder full of quail any more, though sometimes we get a pair of band-tailed pigeons and the two of them fill the feeder. We get mostly wrens and various finches and of course sparrows. We also see numerous juncos, mourning doves, and plenty of acorn woodpeckers. We’ve even had a Coopers hawk land in the trees above our yard. Once S saw a great horned owl fly out of one of the oaks at the front. Ravens come by and steal peanuts from the feeder in the front, but never come to the feeder at the back yard.
Probably because the squirrels have practically taken over the feeding station in the back and we stopped using the one in front because the squirrels were burying nuts and seeds in all our potted plants, destroying our limited garden. Now we feed the ravens in front only when they come calling, not to attract them. You’d think they wouldn’t care if a squirrel was at the feeder, but the birds won’t even try to compete with them.
We’ve done everything the past three years trying to keep squirrels out of the feeder. We’ve greased poles and lines. Hung socks full of bloodworm around the yard. We hung the feeder on fishing line in the middle of the yard, but they can jump to the feeder from nearby points, including the ground. We cut back two of the overhanging trees, but with all the vantage points of the roof, short of sitting in the yard with a bb gun, there is no way to hinder the squirrels.
What do I care if the squirrels eat the birdfood? It drives my dog nuts. The little birds she’s ok with, she knows she can’t catch them, I guess. But the pigeons she would love to catch. They’re big and pretty slow to take off, usually from the ground. It doesn’t matter to her if the birds outweigh her. She bangs out the back screen door yipping and barking, flies down the steps and bolts into the yard scattering birds and squirrels. The birds twitter off harmlessly, but the squirrels are ornery and sit in the trees or on the fence, just wagging their tails and barking back at the dog.