Things you can do with an empty coffee can!

Let me start by introducing “Silas” my arch enemy when it comes to feeders in the yard.  Silas is a very cagey Eastern Gray Squirrel who loves to infuriate me by finding innovative ways to snack on seeds and suet from our feeders.

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Silas Squirrel snacking on peanuts

Think the feeder shown above is “squirrel proof” — wrong!  Silas is able to snack through the openings in the feeder cage and reduce the quantity of peanuts by an inch or more a day.  Additionally his protracted unwelcome presence on the feeder deters visits from wanted visitors — nuthatches, titmice, wrens, etc.

In an effort to vanquish Silas, I purchased a double enclosure “squirrel proof” feeder. I smugly put the feeder in place and stood at the kitchen window to enjoy the impending victory.  Sure enough, Silas came bounding across the yard, into the shrub adjacent to the feeder, and then on to the feeder.  After a couple of minutes traversing the feeder and looking for opportunities to snack, he suddenly turned upside down and started shaking the feeder while scooping loose peanuts from the lower feeder ports into his mouth.  I tapped on the window to frighten him away.  Silas climbed to the top of the feeder, turned his back to me, and waved his bushy tail in my face — “victory salute.”  That did it!  I knew I had to have the upper hand in this contest.

I put my thinking cap on and rummaged around in my workshop looking for inspiration and ideas.  As I was about to call it quits for the day, I spotted an empty Maxwell House coffee can sitting on a shelf.  The germ of an idea began to form!  What if I cut the can down and attached it to the bottom of the feeder to provide a lip around the lower ports so Silas couldn’t rake the loose peanuts from them.

I pulled the feeder down and took it to my workbench where I could make the necessary measurements.  Sure enough the coffee can was an excellent fit for the bottom of the feeder.  I marked the can and used my metal snips to make the cut.  I punched holes in the bottom of the truncated can to allow rain water to run out and fastened it to the feeder using hanger wire.

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Maxwell House coffee can field modification

Elated, I hurriedly put the feeder back in place and resumed my vantage point at the kitchen window with great anticipation.  I didn’t have long to wait.  Silas came bounding up for his usual snack and  an opportunity to mock me in the process.  After failing in his usual method for snacking, he saluted me with his tail and bounded away.  The salute Silas gave me brought to mind the salutes opposing fighter pilots gave each other during WW-I “dogfights” when they ran out of ammunition and were forced to return to base to reload — “’til the next time!” 

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Silas Squirrel frustrated at last!

Ah, the sweet taste of victory!

Bluebird Shepherd


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