Design & DIY

A bear-proof bird feeder, can it be done?

photo of Mark's bear-proof bird feeder on a post dangling Photo by Mark Kreger

For many years, Mark Kreger had a bird feeder, one that was strung on a wire between two poles about 10 paces apart to keep it out of the reach of local wildlife. But late one season at his cottage near Kearney, Ont., the feeder went missing. It reappeared the following year, about 100 metres away in the bush, with some obvious bear damage. “I clearly had to think of something better,” he says. “Originally, I thought higher posts and a higher wire, but I didn’t want to have to use a ladder to refill it,” says Mark. He decided to try a feeder that pivots. “It’s like a teeter totter, but a vertical one.” 

Mark first tried dangling his bird feeder from a wire on a 2×3 of spruce attached to a post he made from a small tamarack. “An animal snapped it like a toothpick after a few nights,” says Mark. The next design was a metal conduit attached with two hooks and bolted to the tree, but an animal bent that too. As any loyal Cottage Life reader knows, humans are often no match for determined wildlife. “I finally reinforced it with rebar, but the animals still bend it,” he says. “It’s been bent to such an extent and so often that I now remove the feeder every evening and replace it in the morning.” An avid DIYer, Mark isn’t fazed. “I enjoy the challenge,” he says. “But for now, the bears have won.”

Though Mark loves to scavenge for materials, he bought the conduit and the rebar for about $30. Common visitors to the feeder include goldfinches, blue jays, and the odd hairy woodpecker.

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