Perseverance in the face of failure is hard! Some things are easier to persevere in than others, but I guess if you practice in the small things in life, then you have the knowledge for when the big things hit.
A small (but happily successful!) event involving squirrels got me thinking again about the effectiveness of patiently trying something, waiting to see how and if it works and then altering your approach and trying again.
For ages we had random bird feeding poles in our garden. We never did anything with them and occasionally a bird would flutter down, have a look, find nothing and fly on.
Then after the gift of a bird bath (thanks, Parents!) we decided to create a little area – nothing special, we just rearranged the poles and got some bird feed! But within a day we had an amazing collection of birds coming to feed. So much so I even bought a bird identification book – yes, I did!
However along with the birds came the squirrels. Actually, they have always been around, quietly and cutely foraging freely in our yard. But now they were just decimating the bird feed. They scaled the poles with ease and having scared off all the birds, sat and ate to their hearts’ content.
So began Operation Squirrel Deterrent!
This was a team effort (I definitely would have stopped at the first hurdle), and it has taken months to get right. What we learned was that squirrels are really quite determined. With every new attempt we made, they would find a way to defeat us!
To start with, we read a bit about outwitting squirrels. Then we saw a squirrel deterrent in a shop, and realized we basically needed to put something around the pole that was wide enough so the squirrels couldn’t get their arms around it and climb up it.
Attempt One: We cut a plastic drinks bottle in half, made a hole in the bottom and cut from there all the way down one side. We wrapped wire around a section of the bird feeder pole and covered it with duct tape so it created something that the bottle could rest on. We put the bottle on upside down, around the pole.
This worked for about two days. Then the squirrels learned to jump above it and use it as a handy step to launch themselves straight into the birdfeeder.
Attempt Two: We moved the bottle further up the pole in the hope that it would be too high for them to jump onto.
But instead they used some stones steadying the pole as a platform to help them jump higher!
Attempt Three: We flattened the stones.
But they climbed up the pole, squeezed inside the bottle and bit the duct tape until the bottle fell down! Then they climbed the pole and got to the bird feed again!
Attempt Four: We greased the pole. This worked for a while.
Until they found a way of jumping directly onto the top of the bottle, by taking a sort of running jump from the ground.
So then we got serious….!
Attempt Five: We kept the bottle but added to it with an unused piece of plumbing pipe (the diameter was 11 cm/4 ¼ inches). We cut it on one side from top to bottom with a hack saw, so it would go around the pole (we cut the pipe because we spent a long time anchoring the pole in the ground previously, so we didn’t want to uproot them when we didn’t know if the deterrent would work. But if you don’t want to saw through the pipe you could feed the bottom of the pole though it and then push the pole into the ground). To keep it in position we taped the pipe to the plastic bottle. For good measure we greased the outside of the pipe as well.
…And it worked!
It worked because:
It was wide enough that the squirrels could not get their arms around, smooth enough that they could not use it for purchase, high enough that they could not jump directly on it, and the diameter of the pipe was small enough that they could not climb up the middle and eat the tape.
And here it is:
So to build the perfect deterrent:
- a large plastic drinks bottle
- flexible wire
- a piece of plumbing pipe
- duct tape
- Wrap flexible wire around the pole, near the top. Cover the wire with duct tape.
- Cut the top part of the plastic bottle off.
- Make a hole in the middle of the bottom of the bottle and then cut along and down one side of the bottle.
- Fix the bottle, upside down, resting on the top of the wire.
- Cut the plumbing pipe all the way down one side.
- Put it around the pole and use duct tape to secure it to the bottle.
- Grease the pipe.
- Watch it work!