Ok, folks - here's what happened . . . . .
These "frisky, cute, little guys" live in my trees (yes, the very same two that produced 40 30-gallon bags of leaves in the back yard). They figured out how to spring the plugs on the finch feeder and spill the expensive thistle seeds all over the patio, how to tilt the regular bird feeder to pour the seed onto the patio, and even how to tilt the hummingbird feeder and lap up the sweet syrup! They are still trying to bite through the suet cage and eat that, as well. So, the birds have done without any help from me all summer. I decided it was time for new feeders - and got what appears to be a decent finch feeder with no plugs to pry loose, and what I thought was pretty much a squirrel-retardant regular feeder for all the other birds. Just didn't count on these squirrels not being retarded.
I dutifully filled them both and hung them outside last Sunday night. Monday morning, I noticed the maniacs messing with the new feeder and shooed them away a couple times. When I got home from work Tuesday evening, the entire feeder was gone! I'm not sure what happened, but I cannot see it from any window. I'm wondering if they've taken it away to some neighborhood's squirrel underground speak-easy . . . . or hung it from the highest branch in a tree.
Needless to say, I'll update this once I discover their hideout!!
UPDATE (18 Nov 04): The whereabouts of the feeder was out in the middle of the back yard . . . and it is now three-fourths empty. The little monsters managed to find the weakest part - the plastic handle - and broke it. But, never fear!! I have some and know how to use it to fashion a stronger handle! It will then find a new location near the kitchen window where the mangy beasts won't have things to stand on while they try to vandalize. I believe this may be an ongoing war!!
UPDATE (22 Nov 04): When I brought in the regular feeder (the broken one), the maniacs went to work on the thistle seed feeder - gnawing a couple huge holes in the bottom and "enlarging" the feeding slots. I caught one chubby fellow hanging onto the pole with one paw while bringing the feeder over to himself with the other. He sat there just licking the opening and devouring the seed!
Yesterday, I moved the finch feeder to a spot just outside the kitchen window where they'd have more trouble getting to it. So far, this seems to be working. This morning, the poor little things were waddling around on the ground under where the feeders used to be, "foraging" for leftovers!! Maybe they'll lose some of the excess baggage! We can only hope! The next time, I won't be so nice - I've heard squirrels don't like cayenne pepper, and the birds don't mind it!!
UPDATE (24 Nov 04): Ok - they managed to gnaw through the finch feeder - first enlarging the feeding holes then chewing off the entire bottom. Ugh! I am admitting defeat - sort of. Have decided to fashion a squirrel-proof feeder or two - made from stained glass and copper sheeting. Maybe that will thwart the little monsters. Updates may follow, but will be much later - as it will be awhile until I can fashion what I'm thinking of. May all YOUR feeders be squirrel free!!!
UPDATE (1 Dec 04): After whining about this for a while to anybody who'd listen, I have decided to try one more thing. Ok, was going to try cayenne pepper in the seed, but have heard the squirrels don't seem to mind that so much . . . which leaves one option that might be kinda fun. A gentleman suggested trying a Slinky - you know - the toy?? Tack one end to the top and one end to the bottom of the pole, and then watch the little devils try and climb up that!!! I will get the Slinky, give that a try and if there are any great pictures, will make a new post featuring frustrated squirrels! Keep your fingers crossed for me (and the birds)!!!
UPDATE (10 Dec 04): Ok, Campers - There are now three "armored" bird feeders in the back yard. Walmart sells a cage for the food, which is in blocks. The cages seemed a bit flimsy, so a few twist ties took care of that little glitch. We will have to wait and see what my furry nuisances can figure out, but maybe the birds will get a couple meals before the feeders disappear!!! Will keep you posted!