Meet Joe Stubby

The Button Box


For years we have fed the birds in our back yard and enjoyed having lots of different ones, especially in the winter, feeding and getting a drink in the heated birdbath. It’s an expensive endeavor but we really enjoy watching them feed.

The downside to the bird feeders was the squirrels who wanted to eat out of them too. I have always had corn on a special feeder for the squirrels but they preferred the sunflower chips that we fed the birds. It was a constant battle to keep the squirrels away from the feeders.

We tried many different feeders that claimed to be squirrel proof but to no avail. It might take them a few weeks or a month but they would eventually figure a way around it and would be able to eat from it. So we kept trying to find something they couldn’t break into.

Last year we finally found one that they have not figured out. The tube with the feed in it is the same as always but it is encased in a heavy wire cage. The cage looks like it has a vine growing on it but is also metal. The cage is free floating and when something that is heavier than a bird lands on it the cage slides down and one of the leaves of the vine covers the hole they feed out of.

The squirrels tried every angle they could think of but never managed to eat out of it. The feeder was hung on a narrow wire or chain and they had to come down it to get to the feeder and there was no where to sit and reach into the holes.

The squirrels would get so mad trying to eat out of this feeder. They would come down the chain and the minute they touched the cage it shut. They would run all around the cage trying to find a way in but couldn’t, and when they failed they would go back up on the branch and sit and fuss and flick their tails.

During the winter they never managed to eat out of the feeder and the birds had the seeds all to them selves and the squirrels had to eat the walnuts they had buried.

Things have changed around our yard this year though. This spring a young male squirrel arrived that is so unique and cute we want to keep him around. He either was born without a tail or something happened and it has ended up about an inch long with a long tuft of hair on the end of it. The little stub stands straight up on his back. When he is on the ground bouncing around he is so cute, he reminds you of a little Koala bear. We named him Joe Stubby.

I’d seen a squirrel feeder at Adrian’s in Buhler, before Stubby arrived in our yard, and decided to go back and get one to see if we could encourage him to stay around. It is called a Squngee (Squirrel Bungee). You twist two corn cobs onto the long screws that are part of the feeder and hang the whole thing about 1 foot off the ground.

When the squirrels discover it they can grab the cobs and pull them down and eat off them. When they let go of the cobs they bounce around on the bungee cord. It does not seem to bother them at all when the cobs go crazy and bounce around when they let go.

Once they started to eat off them I left it down at the one foot height for about a week and then raised it up to the two foot height they say it should be hanging. The first time one came in he looked at it for about 2 minutes and you could see his little mind working.


He must have been trying to figure out what had happened because it had been where he could reach it last time. He would sit up on his back legs and look at it and then get down and walk around and sit up again and look up at it.

Finally he made a leap of faith and landed on the cobs. The first time he was startled a little when it started to bounce and swing on the bungee and he jumped off the cobs. He didn’t run away but he sat and looked up at them wondering what had just happened.

He sat there for a few seconds pondering the chain of events looking up at the corn and then made the leap again. This time he rode it, even though it almost hit the ground, until he had a mouthful of kernels.

Then with the corn safely in his mouth he pushed off with his back feet and did a back flip off the cobs. Once on the ground he sat up and devoured the corn. After swallowing the last bite he looked up at the cobs again. He dropped both front feet onto the ground and leaped onto the cobs.

Joe Stubby finally came around and after watching some of the other squirrels; he tried it too. Since he has no tail, and the added weight, he’d over shoot the cobs a little and have to slide down to be able to eat. But he has figured it out and he is so cute bouncing around on them with that stubby little tail.

Usually in the wild when an animal is injured or different, like Stubby, they are shunned and not allowed to eat with the group; it is survival of the fittest. Well, in the wild world of our back yard when they meet Joe Stubby, he is the boss. He will run off all the long tailed squirrels. I guess he thinks they are the ones that are different. To contact Sandy: [email protected]



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