Mongo Feeder

If you’re gathering statistics on the number of smiles/laughs generated (SLG) by non-humans in the Soldan household, Franco the German Shepherd wins. We did get a smile this morning from an unidentified mouse that moved a lot of Franco’s dog food from his dish to the cupboard where we keep the granulated sugar. The little guy piled it right against the door, so it spilled out when the door was opened. Franco ate it thinking it was some sort of bonus. It was actually his all along, and the potential loss could be considered a punishment for not guarding his food dish effectively.

In terms of SLGs per gram of body weight, I’d have to go with the Chickadees and Nuthatches that populate the little forest just west of our house each winter. They fly up to the feeders strung from the tree branches, seize a sunflower seed, and then fly someplace private where they can open their prize and swallow the insides. A Chickadee’s body weight is such that, it can land on a zip tie (one of natures natural building blocks, right along side of duct tape) sticking out of a bird feeder, and barely bend it. A zip tie is not designed to be sturdy when cantilevered out past a bird feeder, but these little guys do not fear landing on them, grabbing a seed, and then flying off.

Alice and I are not big travelers, but we do enjoy getting away now and then. On a recent trip, we visited Escanaba for an EMS conference, then spent 2 days in Milwaukee visiting my parents, and finished up with 3 days in Chicago visiting the Art Institute and pigging out on Chipotle. During our summer trips in the motorhome, we bring Franco, who is happy as long as the RV is moving down the road. In the winter, it isn’t as practical to bring him, so we usually board him. The Chickadees have to depend on the kindness of our neighbors. I have 3 sunflower seed feeders up, and they last about 1 1/2 days. This means that our little SLG per gram winners run out of food unless our neighbors stop by and fill the feeders. We hate to ask them, and a better solution was needed.

I use mostly tube feeders for my birds. Bigger birds tend to leave them alone because the feed hole is so close to the perch that they have to do gymnastics to get any seeds. Squirrels can get to them, and until we found the good quality plastic globes to protect them, we lost a lot of seeds to the squirrels. So I had this idea to capitalize on the tube feeder concept, but make it big enough to last several days during our winter trips.

I thought about tubes, and found that I had a chunk of (unused) 4″ plastic sewer pipe. It seemed like the tube part of the big feeder was solved, and all I had to do was figure out how to meter the seeds out without them all falling on the ground at once, and how to hang the thing in the tree. Enter Google ™. I appear not to be the only one looking for a squirrel-proof large feeder for small birds. The design I found was on the “instructables ™” site, although I’m sure there are many others out there. I added a couple of windows about 6″ up from the bottom so I could see when the seeds are running low without taking the whole thing down. For perches for the little birds, the author specified tie wraps, Which I have to admit I was skeptical of. His logic was sound, however. A sturdy perch gave a resourceful squirrel an avenue to attack the seed tube. So I used tie wraps.

The resulting feeder was finished, filled, and hung just before our January trip. The results were good, although I do see quite a few unopened seeds on the ground below the feeder. The blue-jays, squirrels, and Juncos seem not to mind cleaning these up. Our little Chickadees flit on and off the feeder all day, generating a smile whenever we see them.

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