Few things are more entertaining to me than the antics of the squirrels that make their home here. I could watch them traversing their own private roadway of branches, making incredible leaps and seeming to be unaware of the vast distances to the ground for hours. Their shining black eyes glitter with curiosity as they watch me from the safety of a tree trunk while saucily chattering at me, daring me to try and catch them. They seem to love letting me know how clever they are.
I find them less amusing; however, when they empty my bird feeders in less than a day. As soon as I had them filled, there would be a fat, cheeky squirrel clinging to the pole, grabbing handfuls of sunflower seeds and stuffing them in its little mouth. Ignoring the expense (which I don’t), I simply don’t care to spend the amount of time it would take to keep them full with these little marauders about. It became a battle of wits to see if I could figure out a way to keep the squirrels on the ground where they belong.
My first attempt was the “greased pole” method. A good handful of Vaseline smeared down the length of the pole kept them at bay for a while. It also provided several good belly laughs to watch the squirrel grab the pole, let go, and dart over to the tree to wipe the Vaseline off its paws. But this was only a temporary measure and had to be reapplied often. It also didn’t work as well in the cold or hot weather.
My second attempt was inspired by a funny video where someone had put a Slinky on a pole and was baiting squirrels to try and climb it. Anyone who owned a Slinky as a child knows they were designed as an item of torture anyway. They would tangle if you even looked at them wrong and I spent far more time trying to tease those endless rings apart than I did actually playing with the toy. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was learning patience and perseverance. I wasn’t even sure you could still buy the things in this age of instant gratification and video games. Amazon came to the rescue!
I hadn’t greased the pole for a week when we installed the Slinky, so the squirrels were feasting with supreme confidence and scolded us severely as we made the arrangements. As soon as we were in the house, they proceeded to test our latest attempt. The device worked! They could begin to climb, but when they grabbed the Slinky, it simply dropped them back to the ground. It took a few tries, but they finally decided to content themselves with the seeds the birds scatter on the ground. We’ve had it on for a year now and I’ve never seed a squirrel get past it.
That means we’ve won, right?