One of my favourite accessories at the Bubble HQ bird feeding station is the fat ball torch. On a 5ft wooden pole the metal ‘torch’ holds up to four fat balls, five at a push. It’s cheap but well made and has served me well. The birds love it and it draws in quite a crowd of them.
A few months ago, I came out to feed the birds only to find that the wooden pole had been snapped from its metal insert in the ground and was lying on the grass. The pole and ‘torch’ were still intact so I just stuck it back into the ground.
Roll on a few weeks….I came out to feed the birds as usual only to find that, this time, the pole itself had been snapped in two. There was still about 3ft of pole left so, again, I stuck it back into the ground.
Since then, I’d regularly find the torch on the ground or pushed part way over. So, what on earth was causing it?
Was the ground too soft to support it? No, it seemed that everything ground-wise was ok.
Had the weather been bad? Could the wind have blown it over? No, it was happening far too regularly for freak whirlwinds every other night.
So why was it happening? I could only conclude that, as weather and ground conditions couldn’t be responsible, it had to be animal related. I drafted up a list of suspects.
We have a large population of grey squirrels in the forest so inevitably one or two find themselves using the bird feeding station at Bubble HQ. One in particular has shown a liking for criminal behaviour.
Damage…this bird feeder in the hawthorn tree was an attempt at brightening up the feeders and adding a bit of fun. It lasted less than a week! Culprit? Squirrel.
Theft…who was caught in the act stealing bird food from the feed bins? Yes…Squirrel.
So has he used the torch? Photographic evidence shows that he certainly has.
Certainly had to be No 1 suspect!
This suspect is actually a criminal duo. The pair are usually seen in the trees overlooking the garden and I am convinced they network, telling others when I’m filling the bird feeders.
But criminal behaviour?
Yes, the crows in the area have been known to rip windscreen wipers off cars. I’ve also seen them sit on the roof of a car, edge towards the windscreen then slide down to the bonnet. Once only? No. I saw them do it over and over again just for the heck of it!
So yes, these two most definitely have it in them to have a go at a fat ball holder!
Sparrowhawk & Wood Pigeon
A regular visitor to the bird feeding station, the Sparrowhawk, aka Sprawk, has been seen to miss a kill and just happily sit on the top of the torch.
I have no doubt that it has no interest in fat balls but could it be the weight of it on top of the torch bringing it down? It was a possibility.
The same could be said of the Wood Pigeon. Hanging around in gangs of three or more, the local Wood Pigeons could definitely knock over the torch but more by sheer clumsiness than any criminal intent. However they do like fat balls so was it possible that they were knocking it over by overly pecking at them.
An occasional visitor to the bird feeding station but not seen often. Totally capable, I’m sure. I’m aware that urban foxes can cause a nuisance but here, at Bubble HQ, the fox isn’t so destructive. But, foxes have been known to take chickens in the area and would probably root through bins given half the chance.
A good suspect? Maybe.
So far badger has dug a hole, left snout marks in the grass and scratted around the apple trees. Damage on a small scale but was it now escalating?
I hated to put our lovable pooch on the suspect list but I’m afraid I had to. I’ve caught her having a good sniff around the feeding station. She’s been told off a couple of times when about to eat some bird food. Could she have knocked it over when she’s been let out for a wee before bed? Or are there any dogs in the area who fancied a fat ball snack?
Mmmm? It’s was a thought!
I now had my ‘Rogues Gallery’ but what next?
I set up a trail camera and waited…and waited…and waited….then a few days ago…BINGO! I had my culprit….
Apologies to the other suspects especially my dog and the squirrel!