Squirrel Wars: The Latest Trick Up My Sleeve

Welcome to the 191st Metamorphosis Monday!

I spent mine running lots of errands and trying to get a few things done around the house.  A long while back I shared this view of my screened-in porch.  As you can see it is a full story up and I have bird feeders hanging from shepherd’s hooks off the decks on either side of the porch.   The feeder on the left is hanging from the deck that holds a table with an umbrella and the grill.  The feeder on the right is hanging off the deck that holds another table with a pergola overhead.


Whenever I fill the feeders, Mr. Wily Squirrel comes along and cleans them out in no time at all.  The birds hardly get anything because he and his buds camp out on the feeders.  I wouldn’t mind Mr. Squirrel having some of the seed but he gobbles it all down in just a couple of days.

Guilty Squirrel


Even when I tried “hot seed” in a window feeder….

Squirrel eating hot seed


That barely even slowed him down.  Apparently, he likes his food a little on the spicy side.  (More pics of Max and wily Squirrel can be found here: So Much for Hot Seed)

Squirrel eating hot seed


I’ve tried various things over the years and some work for the short turn, but eventually Mr. Squirrel figures out some way to get around my latest obstacle.  They are wicked smart!  When I tried putting a slinky on the shepherd hooks (a trick I read about somewhere) he stayed off the feeders for about 3 days, then he figured out he could still run up the hook on top of the slinky and get to the feeder.  Since this particular feeder shuts down if he gets on the ring where the birds land, he hangs from the top and cleans it out.


So, yesterday I was in my fave birding store and I saw these extra long shepherd’s hooks.  I bought one and once back home, I attempted to remove one of the shepherd’s hooks so I could install the new, longer hook.  I quickly ran into a problem. The bottom two screw tops had so badly rusted, they just sort of crumbled when I tried to screw them out.

Birdfeeder on Extra long Shepherd's Hook


So I asked the nice guys at Home Depot what to do and they recommended this thingamajig called a spiral screw extractor.  Have you ever seen one of these?  I had not.  When I got home, I watched a video online showing how to use it since the package had very little information…mostly just the pics you see there on the front.


The way it works “supposedly” is you drill a hole into the top of the screw that you are unable to remove.

Birdfeeder on Extra long Shepherd's Hook


Next, you tap the screw extractor down into the hole you’ve made.  Then you take a wrench and screw the extractor back out of the hole.  The screw is supposed to come out with it.

Birdfeeder on Extra long Shepherd's Hook


I used a 1/8 bit in my attempt to drill a hole in the top of the rusted out screw, as the directions on the package recommended.  Almost immediately the tip of my bit broke right off, striking me on the arm.  Ouch.  Good reason to always wear safety goggles.    You can’t really tell it that well in the pic below, but the top of the bit is missing.  I threw it in the trash but then took it back out to take a picture to share.  It’s still pretty sharp on the end so I’m wondering if it could still be used.

I don’t really get how you can drill a hole into the top of a rusted, metal screw.  Maybe it requires a much stronger drill bit than what I currently have. Anyone had any experience with this?

Birdfeeder on Extra long Shepherd's Hook


I gave up on the shepherds hook on that side of the deck (the deck with the grill) and decided to work on the other one that hangs off the deck with the pergola above.  Fortunately, all four screws came right out of the plate that held the hook.  It was in a more protected area and the tops of the screws hadn’t rusted/deteriorated too badly.

I pre-drilled four holes for the mounting base for the new shepherd’s hook and here’s how the new hook looks in place.  I also added a baffle to the top of the feeder, something I’ve tried in the past and didn’t work.  But now that the feeder is so far out, I’m hoping Mr. Squirrel will not be able to leap out and land on it.  If he climbs out the long hook, hopefully the baffle will baffle him…har, har.  Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Birdfeeder on Extra long Shepherd's Hook


If wiley squirrel jumps onto the ring (where the birds land) it will shut down.  If he climbs out the long shepherds hook, hopefully he won’t be able to get past the baffle.  Time will tell if this works…I’ll keep you posted.

Birdfeeder on Extra long Shepherd's Hook


So, have you ever used a spiral screw extractor?  Any tips on how to drill a hole into the top of a rusty screw?  I hope someone out there can offer some tips on this predicament because I’d love to remove the other shepherd’s hook and install a longer one on that side, too.

For more squirrel fun and to see how smart these little stinkers are, check out this post about Leon and Pearl:  Squirrel Outwits Bird Feeder, The Story of Leon and Pearl 


Looking forward to your wonderful “Before and Afters” for this Metamorphosis Monday!

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  1. What a hungry squirrel, especially if he’s willing to go through all that trouble.

  2. An excellent little project, we have the same issue with squirrels so I am looking forwrad to hearing the results of your new contraption.

  3. What a cheeky squirrel! We don’t have them in Australia… but we do get possums.. big ones!
    Thanks for hosting, have a great week. Jo x

  4. Thanks for the party!

  5. Those little guys are so brave and bold around my house. Sometimes it looks like they are going to knock at the front door and ask to use the phone! Have you ever tried to grease the pool- i wonder if that will work?

  6. Susan, I would just leave the old bracket there and not remove and just install a new one near it. Have you ever heard of the Droll Yankee squirrel flipper bird feeder? It’d be worth the cost in terms of wasted bird seed and frustration and provide you and Max with endless hours of gleeful chuckles. I’m including a YouTube video of it in action. Had me laughing this morning. If this link doesn’t work just google it on YouTube. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=squirrel%20proof%20bird%20feeder&source=web&cd=8&ved=0CGYQtwIwBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DdEW9TG6Dcgg&ei=NgFXUJbkIIq42wW3qICoAg&usg=AFQjCNE14jDretvAdXrCZKjw5WgZmYl3HQ&sig2=XkWep1tQKzgHFzm0QPDuEA.

  7. I am sure there’s a way – Dearest would know! Squirrels are so crafty! They’ll keep you on your toes – I do appreciate you hosting and hope you have a blessed week,

  8. Linda @Nina's Nest says

    My in-laws struggled FOR.EVER. with squrrels getting into their bird feeder. They tried EVERYTHING! I finally gave up with those scoundrels. Hope you are successful! Linda

  9. Looks like you may have him “baffled” this time! lol Thanks for hosting!…hugs…Debbie

  10. Good morning, Susan!
    It seems you need to remove rust from those screws before you will be able to remove them!
    You don’t need any chemical (and expensive) stuff, you can use Coca-Cola! (The original one, no Diet Coke, etc.) Try to keep the rusty screws wet with it (for instance setting a Coke-soaked cloth on them) for 24h.
    If this sounds (a little) too lenghty to you (lol) you can use a small brush (e.g. an old toothbrush) dipped in Coca-Cola (or in baking soda, but Coke works better!) to scrub off the rust. Warning: It can get pretty messy! So, if you try this, don’t forget to protect your clothes and the wall against dirty drops and splashs! After that, you should (hopefully) be able to drill a hole in the screws or even to screw them out! Good luck!
    ~Hugs to you~

    • Unfortunately, Cecilia, the tops of the screws just crumbled when I tried to turn them…they just feel apart. So the rust part isn’t in the way…it’s just made the screw fall apart. Thanks for your sweet suggestions, though.

  11. Oh my- you DO have persistent squirrels, don’t you? They certainly can be little pests, although they are cute little guys. The ones in my yard like to dig so I have holes all over the place. They are either burying food or uncovering whatever they’ve hidden away from us! They are entertaining- flitting from tree to tree. Recently, we saw one taking a bath underneath the bridge in our waterfall stream. Silly! I hope you can find a way to rectify your rusted screw problem. Where is Bob Villa when you did him?! 🙂 Sue

  12. Go to skycafe.com. I have used this bird feeder for quite a while and it has beat all my neighborhood squirrels!!! (and provided a lot of entertainment watching them trying to defeat it) Best bird feeder ever!

    • Anne, they sell this feeder in the local store and I was thinking about it. I wasn’t sure if Mr. Squirrel could make the leap from the rail to the feeder and skip the top. I may try this one if my current set up doesn’t work. Thanks for the recommendation!

  13. Ohmigoodness, those squirrel photos are hilarious! Good luck with the little guy 🙂 And thanks for hosting again!

  14. I think this will work,….we gave up and just let them feed together,we keep plenty of feed for all,and they take turns,usually the squirrels feed and leave then all the little birdies come to feast,it’s ok we are enjoying feeding them all and I sure do love watching them,I think that is so neat to be able to watch and photo the squirrels…I enjoyed the photo’s I really like the one with your cat,this could probable be sent to Country Woman,Birds and Bloom or any other magazine with a cute little write up and possible $$$$.

  15. I live in a wooded, older area and we have squirrels everywhere. They drive my poor little dog nuts! Thank you for hosting…appreciate it!

  16. Thanks for hosting! XO, Aimee

  17. Those squirrels! They can be pretty clever. Thanks so much for hosting, Susan!

  18. Get a Droll Yankee feeder. I have one and the squirrels tried once to get in it and that was the end of it. Now they sit and look at it, then climb down the shepherd’s hook and wait for what falls on the ground. Here’s my blog post reviewing the feeder. http://maxiesmom.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-new-favorite-feeder.html

  19. Mary from Virginia says

    I vote for the squirrel feeder that Nanci recommended. They aren’t cheap, but worth every penny. Also I have recommended Espoma’s dried blood fertilizer to put around plants-Squirrels WILL stay away, and the dried blood is a slow release nitrogen fertilizer that plants love. I recently found a bird seed that “crosses fingers” is working for my feeders. I hope it isn’t the same brand you have already tried, but I bought Brown’s No Squirrels…Just Birds birdseed. So far so good! I also sprinkle Espoma’s Dried blood along my fence line so when those nasty rodents squirrels come along, they hop away.

  20. I gave up in my battle with squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons. ow I fill my feeders with Safflower. Not all birds care for it but the mammals leave it alone!
    I haven’t tried that drill bit. Glad you didn’t hurt yourself. I leave those projects to my handyman…luckily for me or I would be on the ground, crying! LOL
    Thanks for sharing!

  21. Thanx for hosting Susan and hope your furry friends will stay away.

  22. I hope the flipper feeder works for you! Thanks so much for hosting. XO

  23. My question is how can you reach the feeder to refill it when it is so far out? did I miss the part where it swings? Too early here lol.
    I wasn’t even unwilling to share the seed with the squirrels but they were not happy with the amount of seed that would come out and they destroyed my feeders chewing up the openings to speed up the seed flow. I too gave up.
    We refer to them as tree rats.

  24. What I thought when I saw this post was how are you to get the feeder back to the deck for re-filling? I know I do not have arms that long and would surely fall off the deck! Yikes. Do you use a pole or something?

  25. Susan,
    Squirrels are clever little things, we have more that we need around here too.
    Here’s what I would do. I would get a reciprocating Sawzall and cut the broken/rusted screw off between the board and your item. Push the screw in deeper or try to pry it out, then add some wood putty to the hole and repaint the little spot that you puttied. Buy and put your new bracket close to where it used to be.
    I hate running across old rusted screws, I had my fill of them when I was redoing our Adirondack chairs a couple of months ago, and had to do a lot of cutting/prying screws out of the boards.

    Thanks for hosting and good luck with your little squirrel.

  26. I think you may need what’s called a carbide tipped drill bit. They are hardened and can go through tough things like Brick, Block, Ceramic Tile, Marble, Sheet Metal, & Cast Iron and more. I’m surprised they didn’t suggest that to you at the store. P.S.- if you buy it at Sears I think you can exchange it if it breaks.
    Those Droll Yankee feeders are pretty neat (pretty pricey too). Squirrels are determined. If he/she can get on to that sheperd’s hook…then he/she will jump to the feeder below the baffle. I’ve battled these guys for years. We ended up with a stand-alone post with our feeders on them. I realize for your enjoyment though mounting it from the deck is the most preferred way. Let’s hope the baffle is going to do the trick!

    • I bet you’re right…I’ll see if I can find one at the hardware store. I know…you would think the guy would have told me that! If he does jump down to the feeder below, it should close down. We’ll know soon. 🙂

  27. You sure have a wonderful camera! I love the photo of the cat and squirrel:) We live up in the woods so I know what you go thur with the squirrels, one year my daughter , for Christmas, gave me a beautiful bird feeder and a squirrel just destroyed it by trying to get to the birdseed…so I gave up! Now know more feeders in my yard. I hope you get this figured out and also thanks for hosting such a lovely linky party!

  28. Just linked up and wanted to thank you for hosting each week! Hugs, Penny

  29. Thanks so much for hosting! Hope you have a great day!

  30. Thanks for hosting Susan!

  31. They are smart little guys aren’t they! I could not figure out why my outdoor pillows were looking ratty until I realized the squirrels were tearing them up, hope this new solution works 🙂 Thank you so much for hosting, hugs

    Tanya 🙂

  32. Susan, Thanks so much for hosting! Life to the full, Melissa

  33. That is one smart squirrel – he the Wiley Coyote of squirrels!
    Hope this works – wish I could figure out something to get rid of chipmunks!

  34. Susan,
    Hope this works for you! I don’t have those squirrels much around here.Our problem is with the ground squirrels.They dig holes in your yard and make tunnels.We have tried everything to get them out of our yard.My cat does not seem to mind them at all.But we do have a neighborhood cat that visits our yard.I think he chases them away for a bit.Thank you for hosting!

  35. Hi Susan, thanks so much for hosting this party. I’ve had a lot of problems with squirrels at our feeders too. I’ll be waiting to see if this works for you. Good luck with it. Have a great week!

  36. I hope this works! I call my squirrel Albert, for Albert Einstein! The score is Albert 2- Betsy 0! He’s a smart little guy! I love your post! Great party! Thanks for hosting!

  37. oooo those pesky squirrels!! We’ve been successful in keeping them at bay for two years with a baffle which is attached to the bottom side of our pole feeder. UNTIL one day last week, I noticed the baffle on the ground and the squirrel having her afternoon dinner. I’m not sure how she got it loose, but I took the feeder down for about 3 days, hoping she would forget what she did, and reattached the baffle and put up the feeder. So far so good!! Do you think these squirrels stay up at night just trying to figure out how they can win this war???

  38. Susan, we have the same problem with our bird feeder. That squirrel really annoys us most of the time. But the funny thing is the birds still come up to the feeder with the squirrel there. Ha, Ha!!! We have tried the feeder in different spots and we have bought different feeders as well. Nothing stops him. Grrrrrr!!! Why can’t he just share with the birds? 😉

    Thanks for hosting this party. Can’t wait to check out some other blogs. 🙂

  39. Glenda/MidSouth says

    There are so many squirrels around here, I don’t even attempt to feed the birds. 🙁 My neighbor use to try and finally decided it was to expensive – the squirrels could empty a feeder in no time.
    Thanks for hosting again this week.

  40. Hi…really enjoyed your squirrel pics…we have them..we even went so far as to build houses for them..and they use them…they even raise babies in our yard. We live in the country with only one close neighbor and he would shoot them…makes me sad to think that…but he moved and now we have squirrels. We have 12 pecan trees so the squirrels have all the nuts they could ever want. My suggestion to you is to feed the squirrels…because they are going to get to the bird seed…buy a couple feeders and a bag of corn on the cob..and set this up for them. When my neighbor was still living here, he brought over a baby…we called the vet…picked up some special milk and instructions on how to take care of him…when he was old enough, we released him in the back yard.
    Hope you have a really great week,
    Smiles and huggs,

  41. Susan, Petroleum jelly on the poles will keep them off. You do have to reapply once in a while, but it works like a cha here in Indiana

  42. This is my first Met Monday, Susan. Thanks for hosting each and every week. xo

  43. My husband has on ongoing battle with the squirrels. I have lost count of the money and energy spent trying to outwit them. My sister came up with a perfect solution but you would have to relocate your feeders. She has a large back yard and installed a very very long wooden pole in two locations in her back yard. She covered the pole in PVC pipe and painted it to her preferred color and mounted the feeder on top. It has to be far enough away from a tree or building so they cannot jump. So far it has worked. Of course she has to refill the feeders by climbing up a very high ladder so you can’t be afraid of heights. We have very persistent squirrels in the south…LOL

  44. Hi Susan,

    You have captured some amazing close-ups of those squirrels (or rats with bushy tails, as my husband says) 🙂 I’ve seen your previous squirrel posts, and you really have tried hard to outwit them. My husband and I saw on television years ago that gray squirrels are one of the ten smartest animals on the planet. They won’t get any arguments from me.

    Have you ever tried Safflower seed in your feeders? They recommended that to us at the Wild Birds Unlimited, and so far, knock on wood, it seems to have worked. We’ve been using it for several months now. But we only have the one feeder. I hope you’ll keep us posted on the success of the new longer shepherd’s crook; that looks like a great idea, combined with the baffle.

    Thank you for hosting, Susan, and have a wonderful week!


    • Thanks, Denise. I have heard that they don’t like Safflower, but I love to buy this see that Wild Birds Unlimited carries that has a little of everything in it to draw the biggest variety of birds. I love seeing the woodpeckers, finches, titmouses, chicadees, blue birds, etc… come to the feeder, too. When I hang the other feeder, I may make it just safflower. Thanks for the reminder about the safflower.

  45. Thank you for hosting again this week!!

  46. That squirrel flipper bird feeder made me laugh. I can just imagine one squirrel telling the others “come on guys, there’s a new fair ride in town!!” 🙂
    We do not have many squirrels, but the Red Winged Blackbirds clean out our one feeder in two days. We have a special one for the finches which they cannot perch on. I wonder if that flipper would work for them as they are large birds.
    Thanks for hosting Susan.

  47. There are so many squirrel proof bird feeders out there. I fought them for years……then just gave up and spent a little more money on the feeder. It’s well worth it. Here are just a few: http://www.duncraft.com/Squirrel-Proof-Bird-Feeders
    Also…..the ‘hot’ bird food has been discovered to be harmful to the house finches. There are articles written about this. I will never use it because of that reason. Also, like you say, some squirrels still eat it anyway. Would not want to harm the finches just to keep the squirrels away.

    • I hadn’t heard that about the finches…wonder why they are allowed to sell it. The feeder I have is supposedly “squirrel proof.” I tell that to the squirrels who clean it out all the time. When I was in the bird store, the owner went through each squirrel proof feeder telling me the stories of how the squirrels have gotten past each one…so it isn’t that simple. I’ve spent a lot of money over the years on various feeders that were “squirrel proof” and don’t work. Karen, which one do you own that works? Also, if you could give me some links to the article that say the hot seed is harmful, that would be great. I have a friend who has been using it for years and if it’s harmful, she would want to know. I just googled and couldn’t find any so appreciate a link or two so I can share it with her.

  48. Hi Susan, I’m so happy to link up for my first time here. I’m Leslie from Gwen Moss blog sharing my latest office redo ( #184). Wow, what a lot of great looking posts. Thanks for making this all possible.

  49. My neighbors and I just had this rusty screw conversation yesterday. We were talking about how when you go to do the simplest job we are stymied by a rusty screw. I am watching how you get around this problem, because I have learned from reading your site that you are a persistent person and I love that.

  50. Hope Mr. Squirrel gets his food somewhere else! Thank you for hosting. Wishing you a grand week! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  51. Hi Susan, my husband is having a similar problem with the screws in a doorbell button placed on the wooden trim by one of our garage doors. Yeah, rusty as can be; therefore, he has not been able to add new batteries to the great wireless doorbell. I’ll have to share your experience with him! Good luck and thanks for hosting, Helen

  52. Linda Leyble says

    Hi Susan – oh we have had the same issues with your Wily squirrel’s relatives here on Long Island. I even bought special seed that supposedly thy don’t like. Didn’t work. But – placing the bird feeder further away from our deck and adding a baffle really helped. Some of the squirrels jump far – but most times they miss.

    Like you, I don’t mind if they partake – but they clean us out when we put seeds in the feeder. I don’t know anything about the tool you got to remove the rusted screws. I’ll ask my husband for advice for you though. He’s a pretty smart cookie.

    Thanks for posting!! Hope your system works!

  53. Second the comment about the carbide bit. An ordinary steel bit won’t go through a steel screw, but the carbide one will. (They also sell carbide saw blades and so forth.) I believe carbide can also go through stone – the only harder bit/blade option is diamond.

  54. I see we are BOTH still dealing with our squirrels! But at least YOURs is with HUMOR–if you remember, mine is destroying furniture projects— : {

  55. Oh, Susan, squirrels can be so entertaining and maddening at the same time, can’t they?! Good luck on outsmarting them! 😀 Thanks for hosting the party!

  56. Hi Susan – I always heard that if you ‘oil’ the post to the birdfeeder, the squirrel couldn’t climb it! Never tried it but it makes sense.
    Thanks for hosting.

  57. It’s a good thing squirrels are cute. Otherwise, I think they’d get in a lot more trouble. Thanks for hosting. Have a great week!

  58. Squirrels are HUGE pests – but they are so cute. That’s just wrong! I love HATE them!

  59. I love your squirrel stories. Thanks for hosting.

  60. Hi Susan: Thank you so much for hosting the party today. What a squirrel you have–quite a character, and I love the picture of your cat watching him!

  61. Jean from Lake Ariel says

    Thanks for hosting and the great photos. I can sympathize since I can no longer hang Indian corn, one of my absolute favorites as the squirrels just clean it out in no time. I’ve tried spraying with pepper oil, with deer repellent and they just had a field day and left stripped cobs in no time at all. I’ll have to hang it inside now.

    Down in NYC, my problem was pidgeons in addition to the squirrels and what a mess they made. I had to give up on feeding the birds. My neighbor solved his squirrel problem by stringing a fishing line from his garage to the house and suspending his bird feeder halfway across. He reeled it in to fill it and this worked.

    I have a hummingbird feeder now on the porch, next year I want to hang some feeders in the trees and hopefully the squirrels will leave some seeds for the birds. Up here in NE PA we do need to be careful in case we attract bears.

    Hope your solution works, keep us posted.


  62. For the squirrels – a Yankee Clipper! ( and a good squirrel dog!)

  63. The squirrels around here are wily, too, Susan! They spill so much seed on the ground trying to get their share out of my feeders, it drives me nuts. But as exasperating as they are, their antics are so adorable and funny to watch, I can’t stay mad long. I don’t own a drill so I can’t help you out with the rusty screw problem. I hope you’re able to get them out. And I hope the longer crook works!

  64. LOL I love your sweet babies,. Such great pictures even if you want them there or not. 🙂

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