Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Dad
June 18, 2011

by Steve Grinley

     Tomorrow is Father’s Day and some of you might still be procrastinating over what to get the man. A feeder that deters squirrels is always a good choice as it will help to lower Dad’s blood pressure if he is constantly stressing about the squirrels eating all of his bird seed. Of course, if you get him a feeder that stops the squirrels, Dad might put on a few more pounds from the lack of exercise of getting up and chasing the squirrels away. He also won’t be lifting those bags of seed to fill the feeders as often. But he will be happier.

     There are several good feeders on the market that work ninety-nine percent of the time against squirrels. (I never say “never” when it comes to squirrels.) The line of “Squirrel Buster” feeders, which use a weighted system that closes off the food supply when a squirrel gets on, are among the best. They work much better than the green box type “Absolute” feeders, which do well only about ninety percent of the time (or less, depending upon the IQ of the squirrels in your yard.).

     Droll Yankees Dipper, Whipper, Tipper, and Flipper series of feeders also work well. They are long enough and wide enough that the squirrel can’t hang on them. The first three models have weighted perches or tray that collapse with the weight of the squirrel. The Flipper has the battery operated motor that spins the perch with the weight of the squirrel and spins it right off. It would provide great entertainment for Dad!

     If Dad is particularly frustrated with the squirrels and has some aggression to take out on them, you might consider the “Squirrel Boss” feeder. This one is solar powered and has a remote control. When Dad sees a furry critter on his feeder, he merely pushes a button on the remote control and gives the squirrel a little jolt. Just think of the hours of entertainment this would provide him (Dad, not the squirrel!)

     Once squirrels have been stopped by any one of these feeders, they often give up and pick up the offerings from the ground. That is, until a new squirrel moves into the neighborhood or a fresh brood wanders into the yard to try again.

     Perhaps squirrels are not a problem in Dad’s yard, or he has them beat with a baffle on a pole system. Maybe Dad’s life can be made easier by getting him a new feeder that is easier to clean. Several manufacturers are now making feeders that are easier to take apart to clean. Both Droll Yankees and Aspects have feeders that have bottoms that pop right off –no tools, no stress. It provides easy access to the bottom of the tube where mold begins to form (after all that spring rain that we had.) Droll Yankee also has a model with a “pull ring” system. Dad would simply pull a rod from the top and all the perches and the bottom fall off the tube. Again, easy cleaning with no tools necessary.

     Now if you are the one that cleans the feeders, those wouldn’t be a considerate gift for Dad. But, if Dad enjoys watching the birds and the feeders are not close to the window or his favorite outside chair, and maybe is eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be, you might consider a pair of binoculars to bring those birds closer. Oh, he probably has his Dad’s old World War II binoculars which weigh a ton and require each eye piece to be focused separately. Maybe he even thinks those are good enough. But you can get him a good quality pair of lighter binoculars for not a lot of money these days.

     The most popular binoculars come in 8 and 10 power magnifications. The full size binoculars are best for bird watching as they let in the most light. Smaller, compact binoculars are lighter and easier for Dad to put in his pocket for hiking, sports or concerts. Many are waterproof – important if Dad likes kayaking or birding in the tropics. If Dad wears eye glasses certain binoculars might work better than others for him. Whatever binocular you choose will help enhance Dad’s enjoyment of birds and give him a closer look at their fascinating world. Much more so than those old World War II clunkers.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
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4 years of service to the birding community! 
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