Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bird Feeders And Squirrel Centrifuges

Here is a NASA centrifuge - a high-speed merry-go-round for training astronauts to ride a bomb into orbit.

Astronaut Walter M. Schirra Jr. prepares to enter gondola of centrifuge which is used to test gravitational stress on astronauts training for space flight. Schirra became the pilot of the Mercury-Atlas 8 six-orbit space mission. Credit: NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC)

Here is a squirrel in our backyard.

Human, will you please give me another nut?

Here is a link to a very entertaining story "What The Forest Animals Tell Me." about how a smaller centrifuge failed to keep squirrels from eating bird seed.

The article is from composer Kyle Gann's blog Post Classic which otherwise deals with the arcana of musical geekiness. Yes, I read it.

It's apparently hard to get a good photo of a squirrel being flung into thin air
Kyle purchased a high-tech bird feeder called The Yankee Flipper. It uses a weight-sensitive perch and an electric motor to become a rotating squirrel accelerator. You can watch still-hungry squirrels being flung off into space in this marketing video.

I'd be happier if you gave me some nuts instead of this birdseed!
At one point the video announcer says "Everyone agrees that squirrels don't belong on bird feeders. Birds do." This is wrong. Just spend the money on more food for the squirrels.

Droll Yankees
is the maker of The Yankee Flipper They also make the Yankee Tipper, the Yankee Whipper and the Yankee Dipper. Definitely Droll!!

Animals Sharing Food and Space
Both birds and squirrels eat the seed we put in our backyard. I initially felt the squirrels should be kept away, but Leslie was having none of that. Our well-fed cats, would just love a birdie for dinner, so the cats always stay indoors. Hawks appear occasionally to eat a juicy pigeon.

Hand over those nuts and no one gets hurt.
We have never been able to visually identify a single backyard squirrel. They're identical in size and color with no distinctive markings. We've never seen a baby squirrel or even a dead squirrel (except one killed by someone's cat.) Illogically, I've concluded that some of the squirrels in our backyard must be the same ones living here 10 years ago when we first arrived.

a close-up of the nose and claws of a squirrel dining
Occasionally we can identify an individual squirrel by its behavior. There was one little guy (gal?) who learned to accept food directly from us. Nuts! It liked nuts. Several others learned to open the small garbage can where we store the seed. These behaviors are not happening currently so I guess those particular squirrels got better jobs and moved to a nicer backyard.

I want those nuts now, ya hear?
Here is a Band-Tailed Pigeon - a very large very dumb bird that the Yankee Flipper would think was a squirrel and send flying. We get a lot of these guys.

Band Tailed Pigeon perches on a bird feeder meant for a much smaller bird
Feed Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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