Squirrels, Birds,
Feeders and
Winter
Squirrels, Winter and Bird Feeders,
copyright (c) 2021 Frania Shelley-Grielen. All rights reserved.

When it comes to urban wildlife can’t we all just get along?  An article in the
1/3/2012 edition of
The Wall Street Journal makes no apologies at squirrel
bashing in the name of bird feeding even though everyone has to eat. In the
article Ralph J. Gardner, Jr., writes that he has gone to war “Against the
squirrels in my backyard.”  Defending his bird feeders against the “fat and dull”
squirrels that live there he has threatened them with a BB gun, fantasized about
squirrel chasing dogs and extols the virtues of squirrel proof bird feeders and the
joys of watching the thwarted:  “frenzied, frustrated squirrels as the weight of
their greedy, obese little paws causes the shroud that encases the feeder to
descend, shutting off their food supply.”

Well, hungry squirrels- I've got your back:

Providing supplemental food sources for birds in harsh and extreme weather
may somewhat mitigate the impact of loss of habitat; the trees and shrubs we have
cleared that would normally provide food and shelter.  But birds are not the only
species that struggle to find food and shelter in winter.  For animals that do not
hibernate, finding enough food and shelter determine if they can survive until
spring.

Grey squirrels breed in mid December through early January.  This means that
right now, female squirrels need to find enough food to sustain them through not
just the cold but a six week pregnancy.  Male squirrels also need enough food to
survive the winter where food sources are scarce and to compete with other males
for breeding females and shelter.  In the wild squirrels live on fruit and nuts, in
urban areas squirrels forage for available food.  When bird feeders are accessible
to squirrels they use them for food sources.

In fact, if a feeder intended by humans to feed birds only can be accessed by any
other animal it becomes an animal feeder by default.  No blame, it's all fair.  When
you're hungry or have young to feed, you find the food where you can.  It’s the way
it is in nature and in the nature in your back yard.   “Bird” feeders can and do
attract a range of animals to backyards including foraging feral cats, black bears
and raccoons.

If birds are all you want to feed in your backyard make sure and use a feeder
designed to only support bird body weight, place it properly (at least five feet off
the ground and 8 feet away from other structures) and change the feed and clean
the feeder every week —diseases can easily be passed between birds when feeders
are not maintained.  

And as for the rest of the animals—hope they find a meal too, it’s cold outside.
Olli Scarff Getty Images
When bird feeders can be
accessed by any other
animal it becomes an animal
feeder by default.  No blame,
it's all fair. When you're hungry
or have young to feed,
you find the food where you can.
It’s the way it is in nature and
in the nature in your back yard."
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Entire website copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen


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