About Me

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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Canary in the garbage

The garbage collector gave us a new garbage can. The previous one was too big, so we opted for the smaller and cheaper one.

"That's a dink can", scoffed the redhead on seeing the replacement.

"But small is beautiful", I replied wondering where she came up 'dink can'. "It's a cute little can, just look at it!"

Neighbor Richard suggested we arm our 'dink cans' with "screaming canaries" to keep the bears away. He is convinced the one dollar security alarms deterred the garbage-scrounging bear last year.

Maybe so. Our neighbors had garbage-bear problems, but we didn't. Our cans were armed with "screaming canaries". Presumably the shock effect of the siren is enough to scare the bear. It sure worked on me everytime I forgot it was on. I didn't do a backward roll and chop my jaws in retreat, but I cursed it somewhat affectionately.

The screaming canary is actually a cheapo security alarm with a piezoelectric oscillating siren. It's a low-power-consuming sound alarm like those used in smoke detectors. It sounds like a German roller canary on steroids and methamphetamines. The alarm goes off when you remove the magnet.

Here's how Richard armed the garbage cans.

He mounted the alarm on the lip of the can, and fixed the magnet on the lid. The alarm is fastened to the metal bracket with double-sided tape, and the bracket and magnet are bolted to the can.

Spacing is critical, so he used scrap plexiglass as a spacer to align alarm and magnet. The red color is fingernail polish. (Richard has an artistic streak.) It also locks the nut and bolt together.

The plastic material is a rain shield.

One of these days I'll get around to experimenting on the effects of the alarm on pestiferous wildlife. Meanwhile, we'll keep the faith that they actually work.


Juani said...

Dear Chris, first than anything, sorry for my English, I am trying to learn more.
your blog is very interesting, I am impressed by your work, I think is very innovative.
I am also working in a camera trap project, in the Argentinean high Andes, with emphasis in carnivores, mainy Andean cat.
I really enjoy all kind of photography and camera trap is not an exception it is great to know a person who think like me in try different ways to explote it.
Congratulations for your work
Juan Reppucci

Camera Trap Codger said...

Juan, Your blog has great photos of some of my favorite species, and reawakened my appreciation of Spanish bird names, like gaucho serrano. Congratulations and thanks for bringing the blog to my attention. A project on the mysterious Andean cat ...wow! You are lucky to be studying such a species, and I wish you the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

I always get a kick out of how you have used the $ store alarms. After I brought them to your attention I have never seen them again, and since I saw them I have been to at least 50 other $ stores. I hope you bought the lot.
Stay warm,

Camera Trap Codger said...

Pete, Harbor Freight sells them for $2.50 regularly, and $1 when on sale.