Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mammalian Marauders at the Bird Feeders

I love to feed the birds. When we lived in Michigan, we lived near some state land that was home to all kinds of beautiful birds, who would grace my bird feeders, bringing with them much joy for me and entertainment for my cats. Since moving to North Carolina, I've had to accept that my visiting bird population is different; we live in a wooded area here, as opposed to fields. That means we have a lot of insect-eating birds who don't visit the feeders as much. However, I have managed to attract a pretty fair variety and every now and then get some pretty cool birds.

As any home bird watcher knows, once you put out bird feeders, you get some other visitors that you may not have counted on. We have several squirrels who visit daily. I don't mind them so much; the cats love watching them and they're not so bad. We also have the occasional opossum. The critters I do mind, however, are the raccoons.

I have seen raccoons in the past, but was lulled into thinking they'd gone elsewhere for their nighttime snacking since I hadn't seen any in a while. However, I have recently discovered at least one fairly large one making nightly visits to my feeders. The dog won't even go out if there is a raccoon on the deck (he is quite lily-livered, since he weighs 70 lbs and the raccoons, while fat, don't come close).

The main problem is that my feeders are on my deck. Our back yard is quite a bit below our kitchen window, where we like to sit and watch birds. If the feeders were in the yard, we wouldn't be able to see them. We have the shepherd's crook poles installed and the feeders hang there. The thing is, the deck railing makes a great place for squirrels and raccoons to kick back and have a snack. I have the squirrels partially foiled with a Yankee Flipper feeder - I have seen squirrels get flipped off this thing and it's hysterically funny. There is no really good way to set things up with baffles or any other preventatives, though, because the raccoons just grab the feeder, swing the pole around and dig in.

I went searching on the internet a bit to see if there is anything to be done, and found some information on Dealing With Raccoons at the Bird Watcher's Digest site. While fun to read, it made me realize that I'm going to have to break down and bring my feeders in at night if I want to keep the coons away. Oh, well. It will be worth it if the dog will agree to go outside before bed.

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