Mystery of the empty bird feeder solved, plus a tip on woodchucks

deer eating from birdfeeder in Clarence NYby Connie Oswald Stofko

When I was at the recent meeting of the Garden Friends of Clarence, Linda Klimczak, one of the members, told me about the mystery of her empty bird feeder and sent me the video that you can see below.

Klimczak had gotten a squirrel-proof bird feeder and set it out on her back patio. Although the bird feeder holds quite a lot of seed, the next day it was empty.

polar bear cub gnawing on branch in Buffalo Zoo
Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

The mystery of the empty bird feeder didn’t remain a mystery long. The Klimczaks have a trail camera, which is a camouflaged camera that is activated when an animal approaches. Some trail cameras have motion detectors, but Klimczak said theirs is triggered by the body heat of the animal.

When they found the empty bird feeder, they checked the trail camera. Although the bird feeder might indeed be squirrel proof, they discovered that some clever  deer had no trouble getting at the seed with their tongues.

On the positive side, the deer seem to be satisfied with the bird feeder and aren’t bothering any of her garden plants.

Check out the video below.

Tip: Fertilize with fish

Here’s one more tip from Klimczak: “My husband is a fisherman and what is left of the fish after cleaning them can be buried under a plant or shrub as long as you go deep enough. It really works to produce lots of blooms.”

Tip: Keep woodchucks away

Jane Mihalko, another member of the Garden Friends of Clarence, shared a tip on a different pest: woodchucks, also known as ground hogs. She had had woodchucks living under her shed and had someone humanely trap them and take them away. To prevent the woodchucks from coming back, the trapper told her to soak rags in Pine Sol and lay the rags around the shed. In the spring when she thinks she sees the woodchucks starting to come around, she lays out the rags. It’s been two years and she hasn’t had another problem.

“It worked for me,” Mihalko said.

That tip reminded me of using soap to keep deer and rabbits away. I thought Pine Sol might be something gardeners could try to deter deer and rabbits as well as woodchucks, but Mihalko said that even though she uses the Pine Sol, she still has problems with deer and rabbits.

Tip: Protect trees from polar bears & other tough critters

On a recent visit to the Buffalo Zoo, I noticed that they have to protect their trees from animals, too. The new polar bear cubs were playing and exploring, and one spent a few moments gnawing on the branch of a tree in their enclosure. A length of chain-link fence wrapped around the tree does protect the trunk, at least as far as it reaches. You could try this if you have a problem with critters gnawing at the trunks of your trees. If it works with polar bears, it should withstand anything in your yard.

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