Fixing the Old Bird Feeder

Or Should I Say Squirrel Feeder?

There lies within me a desire to have some things and watch them grow old with me.  I know - just bear with me.  I like to look at things around 173 and say - wow, that's been here for 25 years, or - I've had this thing (like my baseball glove) for X decades.  And I'm not talking about keeping things in "new" condition.  No, I like to see things show their value over time through how they've worn and stood the test of time.  Like this bird feeder:

Yeah, it's been around awhile

So, much like me this bird feeder's been around awhile.  Usually I need to confess that I didn't take "before" pictures, but I kinda have some of those.  The problem is I'd like to put a date of purchase to this so I can say how old it is, but when one buys a bird feeder - who keeps the receipt?  While I don't have receipts I do have a ton of pictures.  The picture below shows a number of things that can help me narrow the date.  First, that pooch is Bruegger, who sadly passed away in 2009, so it was before then.  The old flagpole that was originally used for the clothesline is still up, and the carport is still angle iron and has the fiberglass/plastic roof - they were replaced in 2002. The old chain link fence is still there, the new fencing went up in 2001.  Finally, in looking at some other pictures, I think the birdfeeder can easily be dated 1999 or 2000, making it some 20 years old!  That's value!


Another thing I like is seeing the effect of weather on an object.  As we know, the sun bleaches just about everything (except us - jobs do that) and the bird feeder is no exception.  The cedar has changed to that lovely weathered gray:


Another result of hanging around outside (pun intended) for 20 years is that the elements and animals wore the thing out.  Take a look at the edge of the roof, some of that is the sun beating down, some of the wear is from 20 years of ice and snow, and some is because of the animals.

Some great bird websites:

∙ Bird Sounds of North America - definitely informative and fun!
How to Get Into Birding - a neat page at the Audubon Society
Identifying Birds - from Bird Watcher's Digest
Designing a Bird-Friendly Yard - from The Spruce

The Animals

When I say animals in this context - I'm referring to these

What is it about these guys though?  They're really not much more than rats with fluffy tails, yet there's something about them that makes us tolerate their food pilfering, and birdfeeder destruction.  Of course, maybe we tolerate because there really isn't anything that can be done - and they need to eat too, I suppose.

And, I mean destructive.  Part of the reason this bird feeder needs attention is because of the effects of gravity resistance occurring numerous times over the years.  Oh sure, high winds have sent the bird feeder to the ground plenty of times, but seriously - sometimes the squirrels just chew through the rope just so they can get a better shot at all the goodies behind the glass.  Little boogers.

On to the repairs

After all these years, it really was time to make some decisions about this ancient relic.  Is it worth fixing, or time for the trash?  Let's try fixing!  The first thing was the floor.  From the top it looked OK...

But underneath, there was clear evidence of rot and I think some kind of insect damage:

I considered dismantling the whole bird feeder and replacing the floor, but in the end decided against it.  I suppose I wanted to try to fix it as best I could without getting nuts about it.  So - I used a leftover piece of vinyl plank and affixed it on the underside and put a number of holes in the bottom just to aid in draining.

I don't feed the birds because they need me; I feed the birds because I need them.  ― Kathi Hutton

Next up was the sides

The sides are in pretty good shape but had become a bit wobbly.  This was easily remedied with a series of staples.  I considered small nails but I didn't want to risk splitting the wood.  Disregard the floor there, this was taken was I was considering fixing from the inside.

The suet baskets

The suet baskets were all beat up.  Both were loose and one was severely bent up.  Once again, staples were the solution.  I'm imagining the damage was done with all the crashes to the ground, if not - I'm now scared of squirrels!  

See the thin line of copper wire in this next picture?  That was tied to the suet baskets because the tree rats squirrels were flat out stealing the entire suet cakes!  The nerve!

Some of my favorite books about nature:
The Writings of Henry David Thoreau - My favorite nature writer
The Thoreau of the Suburbs - Book review of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
The Home Place - by J. Drew Lanham
Animals Strike Curious Poses - by Elena Passarello

Rope - or - when will we learn?

For the most part, that was all the fixin' the old bird feeder needed.  From there it was just time to re-hang it.  I don't know what you call this rope, but this is what was used:

I dunno, all memory of the squirrel travails were apparently mis-filed.  Within a couple days of being hung in the apple tree, that rope broke!  Now, I know this is gonna sound silly but every so often an appliance dies.  When it does, if the cord is of any significant length at all, I snip the cord, roll it up and save it on the pegboard in the workshop.  Just for fun, and in case it sounds a bit too odd to believe, here's where I keep those cords:

I don't know why I do it.  It's not like a little length of wire is unaffordable.  I guess I just think - maybe there'll be a use for it sometime.  And this bird feeder afforded exactly that - a need.  I used about 2 feet of an old cord to replace that broken rope and voila!:

The ancient bird feeder is back where it belongs - up a tree!  Oh, and before I wrap up I wanna show you something in my own defense.  Some think I may be a little harsh about the squirrels, but really it's all in fun.  But there's also a reason they come to mind.  See this next picture?  Go ahead and take a close look, I'll meet you on the other side of it...

That's right kids!  There's a padlock on a suet cage.  A padlock!  And it's there only because the squirrels figured out how to open the cage and were stealing the cakes!  The padlock solved that issue.  Now, if they figure out how to unlock that...

Stay safe out there!

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