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Monday, November 14, 2011

When Birds Share the Feeder

Anyone who has ever fed birds has likely provided food to a host of other types of creatures. An uninvited squirrel can empty a bird feeder quickly and scare away its intended avian visitors. If only we could just hang a bright, shiny sign on our feeders that says "BIRDS ONLY"...

Of course, different people have different attitudes towards bird feeding and while some recoil when a squirrel partakes in the feeding, others welcome critters of both feather and fur. After all, finding food in winter is difficult for all animals, not just birds. And despite our greatest efforts to deter them,nothing seems to stop determined animals from getting the seed they want.

Here in Vermont, we need to be especially vigilant, as bears can be both a nuisance and a potential threat to safety and property. In areas where bears are present, feeders should not be hung until prolonged cold has sent the bears into hibernation. Other unwelcome visitors, like hawks, will readily prey on the very birds you are trying to help.

What different non-avian creatures have visited your feeder? And how do you feel about feeding creatures of all shapes and sizes?


  1. Have also had fox, raccoon. Bears and Red Squirrels are the only problem animals. Had to remove feeders because of a bear visit, and Red squirrels prey on nestlings. Have mice too, and voles. They get into the house.

  2. Squirrels do not empty our feeders. Baffles keep them out. But they, along with chipmunks, do help clean up the ground scraps. Bears have walked off with our feeders a few times over the past few years. And we have learned that just taking them down at night does not work. Occasionally I see a Sharp-shinned Hawk fly through our feeder area. Deer have not been a problem at the feeder, they are too busy munching the new growth of our landscaping plants. All in all, I don't mind. The food is put out for the birds but if other animals get to it, so be it.