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Sun Jul 1, 2018, 08:47 AM

Midnight snacking

I generally take in the big bird feeder, the one with sunflower seeds, at night because raccoons will empty it every time I don't. I stay up until 10 or 11, and if I don't forget, I turn on the outside light (that's because one time when I didn't I walked into a skunk raiding the feeder. I backed away slowly, murmuring "bon appetit, monsieur", check to see who's out there--I don't like interrupting male deer who are looking for a fight, either, even if they're on the other side of the yard--and usually just the light coming on causes the big fat raccoon who lives in my backyard to waddle off into the darkness.

Last night I turned on the light and saw raccoon-shape on the feeder. I went ahead out the door, figuring Fatso would be gone by the time I got outside. Wrong. And wrong again.

It wasn't Fatso. It was The Fruit of Fatso's Womb--two baby raccoons about the size of small house cats, one clinging to the feeder and shoveling in the seed, the other perched on top of the post, hanging over and waiting for his/her turn.

I expected Junior and Missy to take off when this unknown stack of smelly human advanced on them. Nope. As I got closer I started clapping my hands and "shoo"'ing them, to no avail. They watched me closely but sans peur as I approached nearer and nearer. I tried waving my arms and puffing myself up (I read somewhere that's how you scare away an aggressive swan), but they sat and enjoyed the show.

I was a little afraid that they would bite me if I tried to push them away or made any kind of physical contact with them. I confess that rabies crossed my mind, but only for an instant--I once saw a rabid skunk, and those are symptoms you don't forget. As soon as I dismissed rabies, the question of where Mom was crept in. While I was focused up high on the younger generation, was the old lady going to attack my ankles?

Never once did it occur to me that this was an almost-empty-at-this-point bird feeder so what was I doing. I had a galvanized trash can just inside the back door full of sunflower seed. No titmouse was going to go hungry if I didn't intervene.

Then I thought to myself "if I get bit by a raccoon, that'll be something to tell the (nonexistent) grandchildren about" and reached out for the feeder--I was so close to them I could count their whiskers. They were making little gutteral noises that might have been baby raccoon growls. We had stood nose to nose for several minutes, and they were damned if they were going to move, so it was up to me, the adult, to get the show on the road.

As I say, I reached out for the feeder. Junior/Missy clung. I shook it, and baby jumped off. I unhooked the feeder under the baleful eye of the sibling, fully ashamed of myself by this time--Big Brave Woman, scaring off hungry baby raccoons--and told the little guy "Aw, fuck it." I hooked the practically empty feeder back onto the post and went inside.

The light was still on, and I watched through the window to see if Mom or the other baby would return. Braveheart stayed there, clinging to the post until I decided the light was hampering his moves. I turned it off and went to bed.

This morning, every goddam sunflower seed was gone.

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Reply Midnight snacking (Original post)
cyclonefence Jul 2018 OP
MuseRider Jul 2018 #1
cyclonefence Jul 2018 #3
MuseRider Jul 2018 #4
saidsimplesimon Jul 2018 #2
cyclonefence Jul 2018 #5
Bayard Jul 2018 #6

Response to cyclonefence (Original post)

Sun Jul 1, 2018, 09:11 AM

1. Those baby raccoons are fierce!

I had to remove all my feeders and then all my plants from our deck. I slept on the couch for nights as they would climb all over my flowers and destroy everything after they emptied my feeders. The dogs barking did not ever make them look up and they were mere feet away. There were 7 of them. I would go out and turn the hose on them and they would just look at me. Same with the super soaker I bought. I ended up getting a Nerf gun that shot soft balls at them and that finally worked. I have never put out plans since then. I bought a huge feeder that I could barely lift and put all the protection I knew around it. It was heavy and expensive. The next morning it was gone and I have never seen a single part of it since. They are too smart and resourceful for me.

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Response to MuseRider (Reply #1)

Sun Jul 1, 2018, 10:42 AM

3. Holy mackeral

Those are some weaponized baby raccoons!

Now you've made me think that it's the raccoons that are digging ?pointless? holes in my flowerpots. I was blaming squirrels, but I never found an acorn buried in those holes. I bought a big cannister of cayenne pepper and sprinkled it generously over the plants that seemed most popular. It worked great until the first good rain.

It probably is raccoons.

But hose spray doesn't faze them? My god, I hope you have good locks on your doors!

Used to be the feeder itself would disappear overnight. I'd maybe find it in the brush, torn to pieces. This last feeder for some reason stays put. I guess they find it just too easy to fish the seeds out, so why bother taking down the whole feeder? Plus, if we leave it up, Dumbass will fill it up again the next day. Give a raccoon a fish, and it eats for a day ....

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Response to cyclonefence (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 1, 2018, 10:45 AM

4. Strength in numbers I suspect.

There were 6 or 7 of them with their mom.

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Response to cyclonefence (Original post)

Sun Jul 1, 2018, 09:12 AM

2. Pigeons are the bane of my feeder.

I have lived in a rural setting where squirrels, rodents and raccoons are abundant. My only encounters with the raccoons was their ability to get into a crawl space and attempt to destroy the flooring below the kitchen. Your closing comment reminded me, with a chuckle, of my animus.

This morning, every goddam sunflower seed was gone.

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Response to saidsimplesimon (Reply #2)

Sun Jul 1, 2018, 10:49 AM

5. I regretfully got a feeder that excludes big birds like pigeons

My bane was blue jays, who would park their fat butts on the feeder, keeping chickadees and other small birds away, and stuff their gullets with unopened seeds until their necks looked like one big goiter. Then they'd fly away and feast, only to be replaced immediately by a cousin or brother who would do the same thing. I got a feeder with a heavy grille around the outside that lets only small birds perch and eat--and they mostly take one seed and fly away to eat it. They play with others much better than jays do.

Except for the damned house finches. They are gluttons, and they are filthy. They sit there and eat, cracking the shells and leaving a mess under the feeder which buildss up into a spongy woman-trap and of course shit on it for good measure. And they multiply like Univac.

I owe an apology to starlings, whom I have been cursing for their suet-guzzling habit--again, they won't share--because they so enjoy bathing. Cleanliness goes a long way with me (though you'd never know it from my kitchen floor, another woman-trap but without the shit. The literal shit, that is).

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Response to cyclonefence (Original post)

Sun Jul 1, 2018, 10:52 AM

6. They started getting into my feed room at the barn

Had to start putting all grain into barrels with lids and wood bins with strong closures. Even now, I can tell when they've been back to check, because the barn cat's water is turned to mud.

Also find the occasional empty turtle shell.......

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