Gail and Penny, loading a bird feeder.

Shortly after moving to Bainbridge in 1997, we were greeted by the local “Welcome Wagon” group.  A lady showed up at my door one day and after introducing herself, she handed me a packet of coupons from local businesses.  Among others, there was a coupon for a free bag of bird seed from the Backyard Feeding Station on East Washington Street.  We never had experience feeding birds, but because I cannot turn down anything “free”, I picked up the bird seed anyway.  My husband was the one who first put the seed in a bowl on our deck.  Chickadees showed up within minutes, and after seeing so many varieties of birds so close to the house, I was hooked.

I love feeding the birds in winter.  Tufted tit-mice, nuthatches, blue jays, cardinals, so many varieties of woodpeckers – I could watch them for hours.  And we’ve had window feeders, thistle seed feeders, nut feeders, and the kind that looks like a house with room for suet on the sides.  But we have one problem.  Squirrels.  When the snow is a foot deep, they stay in the woods.  But anything less, and they are sitting on our feeders sucking the seed down.

Hanging a feeder from a tree is basically an open invitation to squirrels.  My neighbor gave me a squirrel baffle – basically a plastic dome to hang over the feeder – but that didn’t work.  And although Penny is great at chasing squirrels away, she can’t be on sentry duty outside all the time.  Besides, the squirrels had the last laugh one day when Penny tore an ACL tearing after them.

After a weekend visit to The Inn at Honey Run (Berlin, Ohio) and seeing their bird feeders on nothing but a 2x4 with a squirrel baffle attached I decided I could try the same concept at home.  I put a shepherd’s hook in my back yard, and hung a birdfeeder from it.  I then checked out Bird Feeders by Ed Baldwin to see what other types of feeders I might be missing. The book is filled with many designs of feeders, from the truly elaborate – a Swiss Chalet – to the very simple – a milk jug.  I’m thinking about making the Milk-Jug Seed Depot just for fun.  After all, I cannot have too many bird feeders in my yard.

So far the squirrels have been baffled by the shepherd’s hook.  I thought I’d be happy about this, but because I’m feeling a little concerned about how the squirrels will survive the winter, maybe I should look into squirrel feeders for my yard….


Gail Ruester is a Circulation Clerk at our Bainbridge Branch. She is currently reading The Emmaus Code by David Limbaugh.
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