Something is draining my feeder in the night.

My feeder–one of those little hexagonal jobbies, with a little trough at the bottom, and a roof on top–is being absolutely cleaned out at night. I don’t mean just the food is vanishing at a surprising rate, I mean it is empty. Not a grain of millet, not a sunflower hull–it’s as if it was attacked by aerial vegetarian piranhas. (“Look out, Bob! They can skeletonize a birdfeeder in under a minute!”) And it’s happening at night.

This has happened before, but now that I moved the feeder to where I can watch it, it’s actually registering–I’ll go to bed, and the feeder will be 3/4ths full, I’ll wake up, and it’s bone dry.

At first, I suspected squirrels. But then I actually watched the squirrels eat on it, and they do a complicated little hang-and-twist routine so that they can shovel food in their mouths–and while they spill as much millet as, say, the nuthatches (little piggies that they are), the little lip at the bottom of the trough catches the majority of the feed before it spills into the great beyond. I watch squirrels on it all day, and it barely affects the birdseed levels–certainly no worse than the birds do.

Also, squirrels are diurnal. Damn.

So some animal is coming at night and eating the birdseed, and doing so in such a fashion that they dump all the seed they don’t eat onto the ground. The doves think this is fine. I am less thrilled, because I want to WATCH the birds, not merely suspect they’re there, somewhere, out of sight.

I’m also wondering what the heck could do it. This would have to be an animal that can climb trees and roofs with equal ease (the previous feeder hung from a corner of the roof with no nearby branches) and that finds birdfood an acceptable food source. Since I suspect they are standing on the tree trunk (or roof), reaching out, and hauling the feeder up at an angle that causes the food to drain out, we are dealing with a creature either stronger or with better reach than a squirrel. That lets out the rat, I suspect–he’s a large, sleek, and healthy rat, and I know that rats are vastly intelligent creatures, but he just doesn’t have the size. He could definitely feed on the feeder, but he’s not as big as the squirrels, and I doubt he could upend it.

My guess is raccoon or possum. I can’t rule out that there’s some freaky Southern thing I’ve never heard of, mind you–I suspect flying squirrels are far too shy to be mauling my feeder, but for all I know, they’ve got the flying vegetarian piranhas mentioned above.

I do not have the capacity to set up infrared cameras. I’d dearly love to, mind you. That would rock. But it ain’t gonna happen. However, if anybody has any other ideas for apprehending (or at least identifying!) the miscreant that don’t require much in the way of mechanical aptitude, I’d love to hear it.

Until then, I suppose I’ll just have to learn what constitutes a day worth of birdfood, and fill it every morning with just enough to get through the day.

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