How to Protect Bird Feeders from Pesky Racoons
Thwarting Pesky Pests
For years we've fed the birds . . . or tried to. Most of the time we've had some success, except for a squadron of squirrels (but that's another article). And then there are the racoons. They don't show up often, and not through all seasons - but when they come, it's WAR!
Several summers ago we got up one morning to find that our suet and bird feeder that had been hanging from a large branch by heavy wires were missing. At least we thought they were missing, until we found them above that tree branch. Their thick supporting wires had been twisted around two branches and actually tied in knots! Of course all the feed was gone.
The culprits? Racoons, obviously. No squirrel could manage such a feat! So what to do? We tried poison and that got rid of a pair of racoons, but the next year they were back - in force.
So we followed someone's suggestion and put plastic tubes (the kind sold to keep golf clubs separate in a bag) over the wires, preventing animals from wrapping the wires around the branches. But the racoons just climbed the tree, shinnied down the tubes and shook food out onto the ground - tearing the tubes apart in the process.
We put the feeders back up, using new wire and the shredded hulks of plastic tubing, got up another morning and found our feeders were on the ground this time (actually, the suet feeder was nowhere to be seen!) Racoons had torn the wires loose from the tree branch, eaten all the bird seed and literally run off with the suet, cage and all!
That did it! The next step was to get a gun and stay up all night, unless . . . unless we could come up with something more fool-proof. And my wife did, at least we think it's fool-proof so far. "Why not use PVC pipe?" she asked. "That's solid, hard, slippery and won't bend much."
So now our new suet cage and our old bird feeder are hanging on 100# stainless steel picture wire, wrapped and tied endlessly around that same branch, with both wires protected by 1/2 inch PVC pipe (see photo below).
It's worked so well so far that even the squirrels haven't bothered the feed. Maybe they're in awe of the new look, I don't know. But for a week now, racoons haven't messed with our latest contraption.
Stay tuned! I'll update the progress (or lack of it, if the racoons figure out another way to sabotage this newest scheme.)
In the meantime our white pipes actually look pretty, we think.
P.S. Since I wrote this article, I've now used a plastic-covered wire fastened to a steel stake in the ground to give our suet feeder 100% protection from the problem this article describes.