Category Archives: Critters

Great Squirrel-Proof feeders

Brome Standard feeder

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Last fall I bought my first “squirrel-proof” bird feeder – a Brome Standard. It’s rather small but a good size for the expensive No-Mess seed from Wild Birds Unlimited that I put in it. The feeder has a center post that is adjustable to increase/decrease the weight of birds that can use the feeder without the ports being shut off. That’s very effective for keeping the nasty grackles and starlings away. I use a seed catcher below the feeder to minimize waste. The Doves are good at cleaning up the fallen seed. This feeder has done a good job at stopping the squirrels.

My main feeder was a wooden hopper style that hung on a high shepherd’s hook with a squirrel baffle below. The squirrels easily jumped on top of the baffle, then climbed up the pole to the feeder. They would empty it in a day!

So I began researching the various larger styles of “squirrel-proof” feeders. Surprisingly several of them were dangerous to birds – even causing their death – because they got their heads or feet trapped by the moving parts if heavier birds or squirrel jumped on the feeder. I checked out the Brome Squirrel Buster Plus which seemed to be effective without worry of hurting the birds. It can be hung freely from a tree limb or installed on a special pole system.

WBU Squirrel Buster bird feeder

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I opted to buy Wild Birds Unlimited version of the Brome system – made by Brome for WBU. Brome doesn’t sell the poles but WBU does. That way I was assured the poles would be the right size for the feeder. I added the seed tray to prevent mess underneath and allow birds to feed on the tray. The little red cup holds mealy worms.

The gray squirrels can jump from the ground up to the seed tray, but when they pull down on the circular perch, the port holes close. So far they can only eat the seed that birds flip out of the port holes. If I were a taller person I would

Squirrel on Brome feeder

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have bought another pole extension to raise the height of the tray, but reaching the feeder to lift it off the pole to fill is currently at my maximum reach. So the gray squirrel wins! Red squirrel haven’t been on the feeder at all.

I’ve had to play around with the weight adjustment pole since there are 6 feeding ports. When 4 or more finches sit on the perch, it tends to be enough weight to partially close the ports. So far the birds seem to love the new system and took to it very quickly. Finches, sparrows, chickadees, titmouse, Downy woodpeckers, cardinals, red-chested woodpeckers have all been at the feeder. They seem to enjoy not having to share with the squirrels.

two Brome squirrel-proof feeders

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This system is NOT inexpensive but I think it will eventually be a cost savings. Where the hopper feeder would be empty in a day, this feeder has needed filled only once a week! YAY!!

HAPPY BIRDS … HAPPY LIFE!

Don’t feel too sorry for the squirrels. They still have their unshelled peanut box!

Chipmunk Eats 2 Red Salvia Plants

Last year and this year I have planted two Red Salvia plants on either side of the large Lemon Licorice plant. Last year they grew well for awhile then started losing leaves and eventually lost the flowers. I thought I maybe watered them too much. But I planted them again this year and made a point to keep them on the dry-side.

Well once again I noticed the lower leaves of one plant began to disappear. Then I happened to look out the patio door and saw the chipmunk chomping away. I didn’t realize they ate plants, but since salvia is a member of the sage family he may find it tasty.

The next day both plants were completely gone except for the stems as shown in the last of the video. Oh well, I’ll pick another type of plant next year!

South Korea Will Still Serve Dog Meat At Olympics

South Korea is well known to favor dog meat in their meals. There are several really heart-breaking videos of them storing the dogs tightly in crates, then beating them to death before butchering them. Several humane groups in Western countries have pressured to stop the gruesome practice with little success. With the upcoming Olympics, the Officials have strongly encouraged restaurants to NOT serve dog meat to avoid offending countries who find this “food” repulsive. They’re meeting with resistance.

To read more about this Olympic story, click this link to the Fox News site: South Korea Dog Meat

As a life-long avid dog lover, I find this practice abhorrent!!!!!!!

NEXT DOOR App Works Great!

Last year a neighbor told me about an app used by other neighbors. Her two dogs had escaped their fenced yard. They made their way to the deck of another neighbor several streets away. Eventually my neighbor retrieved the “escapees” thanks to the NEXT DOOR app. So I loaded the app on my phone.

It’s a very helpful app for subdivisions to stay in touch with neighbors to alert of happenings, HOA issues, lost cats & dogs, or in some cases crime or “suspicious” characters. During the Hurricane that hit Texas last year, I heard reporters mention that people used the NEXT DOOR app to alert others to those needing rescued.

So far in my neighborhood, it’s been a lot of roaming cats in other people’s yards. City rules say cats have the same rules as dogs – not out of the yard unless on lease – but cat owners often think it’s OK to let their cat roam, kill birds, and poop in our landscape beds. A couple weeks ago a neighbor alerted us that a young golden retriever had escaped and they couldn’t catch him. It was an extremely bitter cold night with substantial snow cover. Everyone knew there was a chance the dog couldn’t survive overnight so various people got in their cars and slowly drove the streets hoping to find the pup. Half the homes are on wooded, ravine lots making many places for the dog to escape notice. It was amazing the outpouring of support as people stayed in touch with the app. The dog finally returned home the next morning but offered no explanation of what he’d been up to. BTW, the dog’s name is appropriately CHASE!

Our small city posts informative items and the police post important notices. People can also post items for sale or FREE when they want to get rid of something. It’s a great place for “handymen” or “who knows a good plumber/electrician”. My subdivision has 366 homes so we have a decent sized group, however, we can expand our posts to other surrounding areas if we choose.

It’s a great little app and so handy. Best part is it’s a FREE app! Here’s the link to NextDoor website, but to put it on your phone, go to the app store.

Good Bugs vs Bad Bugs

I use minimal insecticides mainly because I’ve always had dogs and Murph is like a 4-legged mop because his legs are so short. I also don’t want to harm the good insects like bees, nor do I want to harm the birds. I prefer to let Nature take its course. Like the Assassin bug I found a couple years ago, I learned it killed the bad bugs, even though it was really ugly.

GOOD BUG!

Praying Mantis

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Over the weekend I spotted another highly desirable bug, a Praying Mantis. They’re fun to watch as they do their jerky movement and turn their strange head. Eventually it “walked” down to the green plant below where it became nearly invisible with its color match. If you check articles on Google, you’ll find that these insects are killing machines, attacking much larger critters like frogs! Amazing!

BAD BUGS!

Grubs under the lawn

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Also this past weekend I began cleaning up the brown spots I had in the yard. I thought they were due to the extreme dry weather we had. But as I began to use my thatching rake, I pulled up the sod … a sure sign of grubs. I was finding a grub for every 2 square inches. THAT’S A LOT!

I found this invasion over large parts of my back lawn. Given the time of year, I checked online for a specific insecticide that would kill them NOW. Many grub controls are preventative and must be put on in late spring. I found an article from Michigan State University that there are only 2 active ingredients that kill now. One of those took 3-4 weeks to work. The other kills in 24-hours. So I made a trip to Home Depot to buy the Bayer granules.

grub damaged lawn

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I tested the insecticide on one of the large damaged areas, soaked it with plenty of water, then watched the grubs squirm and try to bury themselves further down into the dirt. If it didn’t work, I wasn’t going to put it over other areas because of Murph. I checked the next day and the grubs were dead. I’ve since covered the area with topsoil to keep Murph from coming in contact with the granules. (The hose was circled around the spot to keep Murph off – he hates the hose!)

I’ll be repeating this process over all the other large areas where I spotted the nasty grubs. If there were just a few grubs, I wouldn’t bother with this, but if I don’t control them to some degree I’ll just have a bunch of June bugs next year with a repeat of the damaged lawn.

Alvin is stocking up for winter

Normally these little critters scamper as soon as I walk out the door. This time the little guy was defiant! I got within 2-feet to take the picture. There was a “stare down” as I snapped 3 pics with my phone before it scampered away. Guess the special Fruit & Nut seed was just too enticing that it was worth defying the “dangerous human”! 🙂

Their fat little cheeks are cute but they sure do empty the feeders in a hurry!
chipmunk staredown