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Thread subject: The saga of my bird-feeding enterprise.
Name Date Message
martyc35 07/30/10 12:06 pm I have a bird feeder over my deck at the back of the house, but I can't watch it from inside, so I put a cute modern orange metal feeder out front for the song birds. Only the chicadees like it, and they only like it if I put at least some new feed in each morning. Old feed will not do, as picked-over seeds go wooshing out to the ground if their favorite goodies are no longer in there. Okay, the white-crowned sparrows love to feed on the ground, and they get the surplus. They have fat fledglings to feed, and quite a crowd gathers down there each morning. They stay all day and into the last waning light at night, voracious eaters. I also put up a nyjer seed screen feeder for the finches, and after waiting nearly a month, the goldfinches have finally found that one and came yesterday and again this morning, hanging on the sides and pulling the seeds out to eat them.
Some of you know that the raccoons are attracted to the sunflower seeds and nuts that fall on the ground, so now we have Mom and three darling baby raccoons coming by every night along with at least two more, perhaps siblings, who scarf up the fallen seeds. Lately, we have had a baby skunk and now its sibling coming around as well, and they seem to hang out with the baby raccoons, although Mom R. does not really approve of this teenage gang gathering there every night. Now, in the late afternoon we have a gentle, unrat-like rat coming around to pick up as much seed as he can carry back to his hole, wherever it is. Bonnie says, where is Bambi? Where is Thumper? And I believe Thumper is probably there in the middle of the night, too, as much new seed is needed each morning to satisfy the throngs.
Here is my dilemma: How to discourage the skunks without discouraging the birds? I so wanted photos (I'd gladly share them) of the baby raccoons, but I dare not go out and get skunked while trying to take pictures. I'd like a pic of the little rat, who is quite cute, not at all ugly like larger wharf rats, but I don't think I'll ever get a pic of him, as he is very skitterish. Any ideas, folks?
Anne 07/30/10 12:34 pm Are skunks bigger than racoons? I have a wire netting cage that I put below the feeders. Little birds can get in but rats cant. Its such a problem isnt it - last winter the rats got into our attic and the pest control people told me to stop feeding the birds. No way was I going to do that, so I bought the cage and it seems to work. This ONE HERE is similar.
martyc35 07/30/10 01:08 pm Thanks, Anne. These skunks are smaller than even the baby raccoons, but they can spray, as we smelled them the first night they came around. I almost feel sorry for them, as I think they must be orphans looking for some mothering. They are now eating the seeds, too, so they are not starving, but they are quite small. Some raccoons get quite large, larger than any skunks I have ever seen. Thanks for the tip on the ground feeder. I have bookmarked that site. I've tried other sites for advice, but it looks like the only true remedy is to stop feeding the birds, and I'm not ready to do that yet. I'll keep thinking.
Shelley 07/30/10 01:48 pm That ground cage is interesting. I have not seen anything like that here although, to be honest, our squirrels have advanced engineering degrees and I have no doubt that they'd make short work of it, somehow.

Pity about the critters. Be really careful, Marty. Keep your trash bins safely stored away and very securely fastened. Raccoons can be very aggressive and ingenious when it comes to getting at food. You definitely don't want to be encouraging rats and skunks, either, by enticing them with food. Could you just alter your bird feeding habits for awhile to see if that would discourage the critters? Say, only hanging feeders, with trays beneath them? I have seen in the bird stores, trays that can attach to the bottom of some hanging feeders, to prevent excessive rgound spill. I will try to find a link if I can.
martyc35 07/30/10 01:57 pm Yes, I have seen those, too, and one innovative bird lover inverted a plexiglas cover of some sort and hung it beneath his feeder to keep the squirrels out. I am just lucky that I don't seem to have squirrels here, as there are no oak trees around. I had plenty in Santa Rosa, though. Thanks for the suggestion. Our city trash company has designed great garbage and recycle cans. We put them out at the curb, and the raccoons never try to get into them. marty
Melanie 07/30/10 02:49 pm How about deliberately feeding the skunks (and raccoons) with something really tasty-licious they can't refuse like dry dogfood and placing it away from the feeder? If you place it away from the birdfeeder everyone will be happy? A friend had to resort to this "if you can't beat them, feed them" routine out of sheer self preservation.
martyc35 07/30/10 03:12 pm Yes, I've thought of that option, too, Mel, and I even have some extra cat food that my granddaughter brought over and my cats can't use. But then, bears have been seen in our neighborhood fairly regularly, and I don't want to encourage them to come around looking for catfood. I may just have to wait for skunk season to pass:-).
Celeste 07/30/10 05:07 pm Don't have skunks, but I am getting really annoyed at the pigeons that seem to arrive in my yard in the summer. Some one on my block is putting grain in the street and the pigeons(as they mostly live in town, visit suburbia and wait in my trees until I put seed out each morning. The pigeons have invited their cousins also to my yard and sometimes I am really annoyed at how many show up. They don't care about me anymore no matter how many times I clap my hands to get rid of them, and one even discovered my secret feeding place for my beloved cardinals who signal us through the window when they are hungry. In fact Mr. Baldie is still feeding his ladylove when they have a date for lunch on my ledge. The squirrels have passed on into their gene pool the various ways to get to my feeders no matter what I do, and the "city" pigeons who are vacationing on the "Island", tend to be "messy" and it's very frustrating. Like Anne I refuse to stop even though someone told me that water rats are attracted to seed left on the ground at night. Periodically I do rake up the shells between the bushes and hopefully that helps, and I definitely know that raccoons come during the night, (baby dinosaurs really) as my sensor lights go on in the night also. But then again, I think about a skunk and what could happen to you Marty, and I feel a bit better about my situation. Like you Marty, instead of skunk season, I am waiting for "pigeon season" to pass!
Pam 07/30/10 06:44 pm Pigeons are a great nuisance to us as they roost in our Horse Chestnut tree and leave their presents all over the car and it's terrible stuff to remove. It's strange but the collared doves will have stand up fights with the pigeons and although smaller the doves usually win.
The birds dislodge seeds from the feeders and we have some very exotic plants growing up where they shouldn't be and we have no idea what they are....could get us in trouble :-)) We have stopped feeding the foxes because they were spoiling the lawn and leaving us mess to clear every morning, when I say "us" read "Dennis". We have had no rain for ages except for one heavy shower the other day when we saw about six frogs leaping several feet into the air and crossing the's really raining...they were so excited, it was very funny. We have no pond by the way. It's just wonderful to watch the varied wildlife and amazing the variety of species you can see in one small space. But, thank goodness we have no skunks !!!
Lori 07/31/10 12:07 pm Marty? You never have just 1 rat! At least not here in NY. Now during the summer they may not be a problem, but when winter comes you can be sure they will find their way inside & that can be a very big problem. I had what looked like an adorable little gray rat, I haven't fed the birds for 2 weeks but the critter is still around even with all kinds of rat poison hidden . It's driving me crazy not to feed the birds but I will be more nuts with rats in the winter! Be careful, please.
martyc35 07/31/10 01:52 pm I will be careful about the rat, Lori. I had to get rid of a rat before I sold my house in Santa Rosa. This one is light brown, and if it weren't the wrong area for one, I'd say it is a kangaroo rat. They live in the desert, though, so I have ruled that out.

I love the frog story, Pam. I rented a house in Rohnert Park, CA before I bought in Santa Rosa. The place had gravel all over the front and Bermuda grass all over a 1/4 acre lot in the back. Dead, dead, dead, and it had been that way for ages. I started putting in landscaping just out of boredom, and after only a few days of some new and interesting hardscape and flora, a little toad popped out from under a rock when I started watering one day. I was surprised to see it, and it looked grateful for a new habitat in the formerly dull landscape. I love wildlife:-).

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