Saturday, March 17, 2012

Squirrel Tactics 101: Raiding a Bird Feeder

I just put up a bird feeder the other day, and filled it with some good, low waste feed which includes cracked corn and peanuts.  I haven't noticed any small birds at the feeder yet, but the larger fauna have certainly taken note.  I enjoyed watching a squirrel discover the feeder, and I had to admire her cautious but effective methods.  Other squirrels could take a lesson...

Step 1: Aerial reconnaissance - Always check the location from above if possible.

Step 2: Approach the area with caution

Step 3: Check the perimeter - use any available cover to your advantage

Step 4: Keep one eye on the guy with the camera

Step 5: Approach the goal for closer inspection

Step 6: Inspect goal and evaluate procurement options

Step 7: Inspect the goal support from below - Can it be climbed?  (Continue to use cover to your advantage.  Native plants work best.)

Step 8:  When faced with a hanging goal, check for stability...

Is the goal hung securely? Will it support your weight?

Step 9: With a goal that is within reach, attempt a "stretch and grab" maneuver...

Always try every side and angle.

Then make the grab.

Step 10: Enjoy the spoils.

Supplemental note: Always beware of other raiders.

Like Western Scrub Jays (Aphelocoma californica)...

and American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos).

The squirrel in these photos is - sadly - not an Oregon native species.  It is a fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), from the eastern United States.  According to the Audubon Society of Portland, we have five native squirrel species in the Portland metro area, but today our two most commonly-seen species are invasive.  The fox and the eastern gray.

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