Joe goes high-tech for the birds

Friday, March 26, 2004

Remember my sale last year? The one where I asked you, kind readers, to take a bunch of bird feeders and assorted bird-feeding paraphernalia off my hands?

I wound up sending a nice check to the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri, thanks to your generosity.

Guess what? I may have to have another sale.

I can't help it. The same gene that makes me aimlessly wander the aisles of home-improvement stores drooling over power tools also makes me want to try every new bird feeder that comes along.

Like many of you who put out good things to eat for birds, I am particularly interested in any feeder that claims to be squirrel-proof.

There are such feeders. I had one for several years. It relied on the theory that squirrels are heavier than birds. So whenever a squirrel got on the perch to eat the bird feed, the squirrel's weight would close off the goodies.

One of you bought that feeder at my sale. It's the only feeder claiming to be squirrel-proof that ever got the Sullivan seal of approval.

There was nothing wrong with that old feeder. It worked. It kept squirrels from getting what rightfully belonged to the birds.

But it was not high-tech.

You see, the gene that makes some of us covet power tools and, in my case, bird feeders, is also the same gene that makes us go bonkers over gadgets.

Any gadget.

If it has moveable parts, requires batteries or has to be plugged in, I want one.

Everyone who has ever owned a bread maker knows what I'm talking about.

When was the last time you actually baked bread in it?

Several months ago I saw this mechanized bird feeder at my favorite garden-supply store. Here's how it works:

The perch around the base of the feeder is attached to a battery-operated motor. If a bird sits on the perch, nothing happens. But if a squirrel gets on the perch, it quickly revolves, slinging the squirrel into orbit.

Oh, don't give me that look. There is no torture too cruel for a squirrel stealing bird seed from a mama cardinal trying to raise a family.

Yes, I know some of you are partial to squirrels.

You've really got to stop thinking of them as cuddly. They are, in fact, rats with fluffy tails and cute ears. I don't see any of you cooing to rats.

I did not buy the motorized bird feeder (I am not making this up) when I first saw it, because it is very expensive. But this spring, as our squirrel population blossomed along with the forsythia, I realized my BB gun wasn't sufficient. (Disclaimer: If shooting squirrels with a BB gun is illegal or immoral, I hereby deny everything, including the laser scope.)

So I went to the store and bought the feeder.

When my wife spotted it out the kitchen window, she went into Patient Wife mode, rolled eyes and all.

But I explained to her that I don't carouse, gamble, drive flashy cars, chase women, get drunk, stay out late or use snuff.

Surely I'm entitled to one, itsy-bitsy (but rather expensive) vice.

By the way, the raccoon who visits our yard loves the new squirrel-proof feeder. The first night the feeder was up, the raccoon ripped out the motorized perch and darn-near twisted the steel cable off the wrought-iron hanger.

Does anyone know of a raccoon-proof bird feeder?

Or some decent snuff?

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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