Squirrel-proof bird feeder? Don’t bet on it!

Many readers sent me this video made by engineer and inventor Mark Rober about his attempt to build a Rube-Goldberg-like bird feeder that would foil squirrels. (This is the ultimate pandemic project.) Thanks to all who sent this; it’s truly awesome (as the kids say), and “viral”, with over 14 million views in four days! (This may reflect people looking for cute videos while they’re quarantined.)

It’s a truly impressive project, but what impressed me even more was both the agility and the cleverness of the hungry rodents. If you’re one of the rare people who haven’t seen this, do watch. It’s a lot of fun.

You may remember Rober as the guy who devised a glitter/stink bomb package to punish those who steal boxes off people’s porches.

20 Comments

  1. Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Saw this yesterday. Really good! I found it well worth 22 minutes of my time. Squirrels are truly amazing creatures. Dare I say it here but they blow away cats in many ways.

    BTW, if you’re into this sort of thing, this guy’s famous porch pirate bomb video is well worth watching too. He mentions it briefly in this squirrel video.

  2. steve oberski
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Squirrel catapult

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    In particular I liked how he started out just planning to toss or drop the squirrels – not exactly humane, and more aligned with squirrel-as-nuisance – and probably irked many. But he’s honest – he’s just starting from a naive point figuring there’s nothing problematic about it. It’s not his fault. But he obviously changes his view by the end, on the basis of what he learned. It’s a tiny example of, I think, the importance of re-evaluation of what we do, and making a change for the better.

    The squirrel were absolutely astonishing- the navigation of the pitchfork tumblers? Jaw dropping!

  4. merilee
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic😍

  5. Kurt Helf
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    What a delight! Thanks for sharing that!

  6. Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I had squirrel trouble on my bird feeder in the Seattle area, years ago.

    I suspended the feeder by a rope is a way that the squirrels could not reach it.

    The squirrels bit through the rope. But not where you might think, on the part where the rope descended to the feeder. No, they bit it low down on a tree trunk, where I tied it off. That says something about their intelligence, I think.

    I finally foiled them by suspending it using 1/16-inch diameter stainless steel cable.

    That they could not bite through.

    Squirrels are hard to foil. Mainly, it’s hard to find a spot in most yards where they can’t leap onto the feeder. The squirrel guards (broad cones hung above the feeder) help; but also aren’t fool proof.

    • Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      We need a mag-lev bird feeder!

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        How about Bernoulli effect feeder? Might need an industrial air compressor!

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          As part of some second thoughts as to whether the idea is accurately called the Bernoulli effect, I checked :

          1 : Numberphile- Tadashi’s Toys : https://youtu.be/6H6EP-AmMFM

          2. Veritasium: https://youtu.be/mNHp8iyyIjo

          … so I think I’m pulling back from “Bernoulli effect” and going with levitating air stream effect. At first anyway…

  7. Filippo
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I periodically grease the poles with vaseline. But the pole has to be high enough to neutralize squirrels’ impressive vertical leaping ability.

  8. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I thought the greased pole was the best and very funny. Some time ago, PCC(E) posted a video of a squirrel trying its darndest and failing to climb up a greased pole to get to the bird feeder but I recall that PCC(E)thought that it wasn’t very nice to the squirrel. I thought it was hilarious.

  9. rickflick
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    The squirrel must have a brain the size of a walnut (without shell). If they could just manage to place an FMRI helmet on her, we could figure out which lobe is responsible for her intelligence. Maybe then grow a slice of that in a tank and add it to human food to make us smarter. 🤓

  10. Laurance
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    How come everybody else has squirrels but I don’t??

    My stinkin’ birds throw seeds on the ground! Jeepers criminy! They dump seeds all over the ground…and that’s that! Why are there no squirrels there to eat those seeds?

    Seeds going to waste!

    I’d love to have a few squirrels eating what the birds throw away!

    • rickflick
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      You can encourage tidiness in birds by placing napkins around the feeder. And cards at each placing alternating boy/girl, boy/girl, etc. And play soft music.

    • eric
      Posted May 29, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      You have a lot of hawks in the area? Or feral cats or just outdoor cats? Maybe fox? Squirrels are prey animals; they won’t come out in the open if they think there’s a predator nearby. For most urban or suburban backyards, this is not really an issue, but maybe for yours it is?

  11. Colin McLachlan
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    test

  12. Posted May 30, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Oh man–I remember all the various ways me and my dad would try to foil the squirrels, but it never worked. Now, I just get a small bowl and chuck out some food for the squirrels and birds to forage for off my back porch. I can sometimes stand at the door(or sit in my chair on the porch) if I’m quiet enough and just watch them go… at least til my blue heeler sees them and scatters them. But as soon as she’s gone, within 10 minutes, they’re back to eating. They’re fun to watch… and I throw stuff out so they’ll leave my garden alone.

    A lady at the store once told me something she tried to do. She’d put a bird feeder on top of a 6 foot pole, right smack in the middle of the yard, and greased the whole darn thing. It worked for a few days, but then she found them on there. She was surprised because there was nothing for them to leap from or anything and she’d watched them struggle up that grease pole only to slide down every time for days. turns out the squirrels started kicking and throwing sand on the pole for traction, a little at a time, until they could get up it.

    • Posted May 30, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      That bit about them throwing sand on the pole is really amazing. How would they have figured this out? I wonder what limits are on their intelligence.

      • rickflick
        Posted May 30, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        “I wonder what limits are on their intelligence”

      • Posted May 30, 2020 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

        whatever those limits are, I’m sure the naturalist or whoever that does the study gives up before the squirrels do. They’re like little engineers with cute tails.


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