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

Monday, February 4, 2008

Squirrel trials update #1

This is an image that strikes terror into the hearts of owl boxers. Imagine how a screech owl feels with this peering into its home.

Yesterday I replaced the front of the experimental owl box with one having a larger (3.5") hole. The 3" hole seemed a little small and I didn't want to invite home renovation by a squirrel.

The box still contained a lot of sunflower seeds but it was filled with icy snow. Since there's precipitation in the forecast I put a lid on it.

This morning, the squirrels didn't show until 11:00, and the following clockwise sequence shows the reaction of one of them to the owl box modification.

This series assured me that there was no need to worry that a lid would discourage them and delay the experiment. Once the hole was located the squirrel wasted no time entering and feeding on and off for a half hour.

It had a room with a view and periodically surveyed its surroundings, as if to say:

"Hey dudes, this is a gnarly place with all kinds of awesome snacks."


Owlman said...

Let the games begin! On behalf of the owl cam community can I make a request? Can you see what effect flashing above and below the box has on the squirrel's ability to enter? I know with the terrible weather this may not be possible. I currently have 20 inch wide flashing above and below the box. I noticed that the box seemed to have a flat roof. Are you going to do trials with a sloped roof too?

This is awesome by the way! I will be sterring people to your site once I have some time to blog again! BTW, peanut butter will get these little dudes to come running!

Camera Trap Codger said...

The plan is to vary the size of the roof first, then try baffles on the side of the roof so the squirrel can't reach around to entrance hole. I am also thinking about placing a roller bar on the edge of the roof. Flashing was the next variable. I may try pitched roofs, but was thinking more in terms of quick and dirty owl box designs that don't require cutting angles.

Anonymous said...

I am most anxious to see the results of your experiment! My group, the Hungry Owl Project, builds barn owl and screech owl boxes - we've mostly heard from people having squirrel problems with screech boxes. The main invaders of barn owl boxes have been bees... We'd love to learn from your trials since we don't have the resources to do this kind of testing! Maggie

Owlman said...

See that - maybe you'll become a famous squirrel researcher ;-) Seriously though, this type of research is well overdue!