Sunday is Father’s Day and some of you might still be procrastinating over what to get the dad or grand dad in your life. A feeder that deters squirrels is always a good choice as it will help to lower Dad’s blood pressure if he is constantly stressing about the squirrels eating all of his bird seed. Of course, if you get him a feeder that stops the squirrels, Dad might put on a few more pounds from the lack of exercise of getting up and chasing the squirrels away. He also won’t be lifting those bags of seed to fill the feeders as often. But he will be happier.
There are several good feeders on the market that work effectively. The line of “Squirrel Buster” feeders use a weighted system that closes off the food supply when a squirrel gets on. They are by far the best. They now have a wide range of models to suit every budget with proven effectiveness against squirrels. Some have adjustable springs so you can lighten the feeder enough to also discourage heavier birds like pigeons or grackles.
Squirrel Busters also have a peanut feeder for shelled peanuts that allow woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice to feed, but close off the peanuts to marauding squirrels. They also have a finch feeder for Nyger (thistle) seed. Usually squirrels don’t bother with Nyger as it is a tiny seed, still has a shell, and doesn’t provide much nourishment to squirrels for the effort expended. If you serve a finch mix that also contains fine sunflower chips, then such a finch feeder may be welcomed to deter the squirrels.
Squirrel Buster now has a feeder for suet that will be available in late August. Some dads have switched to plain or hot pepper suet to discourage squirrels, but the Squirrel Buster Suet allows woodpeckers and most other birds to feed on any suet, but shuts off access to the suet from squirrels. We have one on display at the store if you would like to check it out!
Other feeders that help Dad deter squirrels include the green box type “Absolute” feeders, which do well 95% of the time (or less, depending upon the IQ of the squirrels in your yard.). The long perch allows all size birds to perch and feed, but the weighted perch causes the squirrel’s weigh to shut off the food supply. There is also a two-sided spring-loaded model. Both come with a pole and a hanger so that Dad can choose which method is best for his yard.
Droll Yankees’ Dipper, Whipper, Tipper, and Flipper series of feeders also work well enough, though their prices have climbed in recent years making them the most expensive of the choices. . They are long and wide enough so that the squirrel can’t hang on them. Three models have weighted perches or tray that collapse with the weight of the squirrel. The Flipper has the battery operated motor that spins the perch with the weight of the squirrel and throws it right off. It would provide great entertainment for Dad, but for a hefty price!
Perhaps squirrels are not a problem in Dad’s yard, or he has them beat with a good squirrel baffle on a pole system. Maybe Dad’s life can be made easier by getting him a new feeder that is easier to clean. Several manufacturers are now making feeders that are easier to take apart to clean. Both Droll Yankees and Aspects have feeders that have bottoms that pop right off –no tools, no stress. They provide easy access to the bottom of the tube where mold sometimes begins to form (after all that spring rain that we had.)
Now if you are the one that cleans the feeders, those wouldn’t be a considerate gift for Dad. Dad might prefer a bird house that requires even less work. The birds do all the work by building their own nests in the house, and Dad can it sit back and enjoy watching them!
If Dad enjoys coffee, you can give him a bag of shade grown coffee from Central and South America (saving trees benefit birds) and a bird mug. If Dad likes to read, there are many great books on birding, relating stories of bird watching trips – both local and afar. There are all kinds of bird T-shirts, hats and socks for the fashionable Dad. You can even tell Dad to “go fly a kite” with an eagle or hawk kite to fly on those windy days.
If Dad enjoys watching the birds and the feeders are not close to the window or his favorite chair, (and maybe his eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be), you might consider a pair of binoculars to bring those birds closer. Oh, he probably has his Dad’s old World War II binoculars that weigh a ton and require each eyepiece to focus separately. Maybe he even thinks those are good enough. But you can get him a good quality pair of lighter binoculars for not a lot of money these days.
The most popular binoculars come in 8 and 10 power magnifications. The full size binoculars are best for bird watching as they let in the most light. Smaller, compact binoculars are lighter and easier for Dad to put in his pocket for hiking, sports or concerts.
Most binoculars are waterproof - important if Dad likes kayaking or birding in the tropics. If Dad wears eyeglasses, certain binoculars might work better than others for him. Whatever binocular you choose will help enhance Dad’s enjoyment of birds and give him a closer look at their fascinating world.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!