July 26, 2021

Human 1, Animals 0 (maybe)

I have a number of bird feeders and buy birdseed in bulk. It isn't convenient to store the seed inside, so I have stored it outside, where it is conveniently close to my feeders. Storing the seed securely outdoors has been a problem, however. The problem has persisted for a long time, but I think I may have finally won the battle to protect my seed stash from non-avian predictors.

Plan A: I first used a large plastic bin to store birdseed. The bin had a large capacity, closed securely, and was easy to open. The bin did not last. Animal or animals unknown chewed through the plastic and put a large hole in the side of the bin. I don’t know what animal had gotten into the bin, but I suspected a raccoon. I see raccoons frequently under my feeders.

Plan B: Clearly, a metal container was needed. I found a small trash can that was large enough to hold at least 60 pounds of seed. The can had the usual hinged handles on either side and a tight-fitting lid with a handle in the middle.

Plan C: My memory gets a little foggy here. Whether it was part of Plan B or later, I used a bungee cord to fully secure the trash can lid. This was a short-lived experiment. Some animal—the same one that chewed through the plastic bin?—chewed through the bungee cord. This is also about the time I experienced the bear attack. A bear damaged three feeders and knocked over the trash can, whose lid came off.

Plan D: The bear made it clear that the can needed to be prevented from being tipped over, and the lid needed to be better secured. I came home from Tractor Supply Company with two lengths of strong chain and an assortment of maillons (quick links).  I connected a chain from one handle to the other and around a post. The other chain connected the handles on the side of the can and ran through the handle on the lid. That chain was a little tricky, as it was difficult to arrange the chain and tighten the maillon so as to make the lid impossible to lift.

This seemed to work well for a while. Not too long ago, however, I got a bit lazy and replaced one of the maillons with a carabiner, which, of course, didn’t need to be unscrewed to get into the seed can. Opening the carabiner was a little tricky, but the task was less time-consuming than opening the maillon. The carabiner made it a bit harder to lock down the lid tightly.

On various occasions, I noticed that the lid had been tilted so as to offer access to the birdseed. Twice, I caught a perpetrator inside the can in the act of eating seed. That miscreant was neither a racoon nor (thankfully) a bear. It was a groundhog! (Groundhogs also are frequent visitors. A groundhog once chewed through a telephone cable and disrupted telephone service.)

Plan E: I headed back to Tractor Supply. Security was more important than convenience! I returned home with a turnbuckle having a hook on one end and an eye on the other. The eye could be attached to the chain with a maillon and the hook could be clipped to a link of the chain. The turnbuckle could then be tightened to make lifting the lid impossible.

Plan E is newly implemented, so its long-term viability has yet to be established, but I think it is going to work. Getting seed out of the trash can is now harder than ever, but I hope it is a task that only I will be performing. (See photos below. Click on photos for enhanced views.)

Trash Can for Birdseed
Trash can. Note chain around post.

Plan E Locking Mechanism
Turnbuckle in place atop trash can.

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