To Catch A Thief

We have a couple of hummingbird feeders out on the back porch, and aside from the hummingbirds, other critters love that sugary water as well.

A couple years ago, the squirrels climbed the porch supports and tried climbing across the vines to get to them. This succeeded in ripping the vines to shreds (it will take years for them to grow back) and smashed the crap out of a couple of feeders (which were never designed to hold the weight of a hyperactive squirrel) but there was so much damage to the vines that there’s no way for that particular problem to repeat.

Ants are always a problem, but since I got new feeders with the built in moats at the top, the ants are held at bay as long as I remember to refill the moats every couple of days. It’s been really hot and really dry and my memory is often distracted, so sometimes the ants get a feast, but that’s on me.

This week we have a new problem.

I had serviced the feeders on Sunday (I only fill them about 20% full and do it every week or two, otherwise the syrup tends to get icky) but noticed one of them was almost empty yesterday, with a great deal spilled out onto the ground. (Yet another feast for the ants until I descended upon them like the Avenging Angel of Death With the Watering Hose, despite our drought.) The feeders don’t normally leak like that unless they’re being seriously disturbed. But what was disturbing them?

Some of the really strong winds can do that and make them start to spill as the feeders get swung about. But the winds have been calm.

The squirrels could do that. But they really don’t have any way to get up there and they’re pretty well fed on the bird seed already.

The house finches? I’ve seen one or two over the years try to make a “carrier landing” and grab onto the perches at the bottom of the feeder, but none of them could drain a whole feeder in one or two days doing that. Plus, they can’t actually eat any of the hummingbird food, their beaks are too large, so even if they think it’s a great idea, it doesn’t work and they give up quickly.

Then I was walking through the kitchen and saw a FLASH of incredibly bright yellow with black accents. A really BIG freakin’ bird. Not condor-sized freakin’ big, but definately crow or raven sized. It went right by the window on the porch, hit the feeder and latched on, swinging like a chandalier in an earthquake, trying to get at the food. That was never going to happen, and a second later when I stepped over to the window to get a better view, it was gone just as fast as it had come.


Remember this guy?

I’ve seen these Yellow-headed Blackbirds a handful of times here and they’re now my number one suspect for the hummingbird feeder thieves.

It was blind luck that I happened to see it on Monday. I don’t have the time to sit around and wait and hope to get lucky again. I’m going to have to be more clever.

I moved one of our Nest security cameras out to the back porch, hoping that any motion would trigger an alert. That’s not going to work. They’ve got a very wide angle view and even eight feet from the feeders with three or four hummingbirds flitting about and feeding, they never register the motion or activity. Rabbits in the yard? Ignored. Three squirrels stealing bird seed? Zippo, nada. Me going out to take the trash or get a soda from the spare fridge? I see that my shaved head looks even more stupid from above, but that’s not helpful.

I’ve got some really nice, old-fashioned HD “palm” cams and tripods that can record for a couple hours at a time. Maybe I’ll clean up the mess, refill the feeder, and set up a couple of those right next to the feeders. At worst, maybe I’ll get some nice video of the hummingbirds?

Or catch a bright yellow thief?

After all, I don’t have anything better to do with my time… 🤯😵

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