Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

this is a bird feeder and everything to

my left is my attempt at making a

squirrel trip if they want the birdseed

they will first need to pass through

what is basically an eight part ninja

warrior' obstacle course for squirrels

this course is extremely challenging it

is not for the timid of heart but out of

the gate I will admit that in hindsight

that I completely underestimated my

adversary now if you're wondering why I

would go through all this trouble when

you go back eight weeks ago when I found

myself stuck at home and very bored so I

installed a bird feeder and decided to

become a bird watcher and it was just so

lovely until they showed up now luckily

my bird feeder had a wire cage around it

big enough for the birds to slip inside

but small enough to prevent the

squirrels from getting the food and that

worked really well until right here for

me this was like the moment in Jurassic

Park when they realized the

velociraptors can open door handles and

once the door was open it was clear this

wasn't their first rodeo

they basically cleared this whole tube

of birdseed by the end of the day mind

you this bird feeder was advertised as

being squirrel proof so I bought another

squirrel-proof birdfeeder to replace it

it's got this outer cage suspended by

some Springs and so if a bird comes and

lands here it doesn't weigh that much

and it has access to the seeds however a

squirrel comes go grab onto this cage

its weight will force the springs down

thereby preventing access to the seeds I

have no idea how the squirrels could

possibly outsmart this but let's see and

this one worked exactly as intended you

can see the birds love it but when the

squirrel comes along the cage shifts

down and now all the seed ports are

covered up every time they tried it was

the same results however the next

morning this guy manages to unclip the

springs that hold the cage up which

means the cage stays in the lowered

position where it blocks all the seed

openings problem with that is now they

can get to the lid but this bird feeder

lid doesn't hinge open to give direct

access so he goes with a different

tactic where he now has access to all

the birdseed he wants and so I decided I

would try one more bird for your design

okay wow it almost feels intentional at

this point this one is supposed to work

well because it's got this

which is supposed to keep the squirrels

from just coming straight down and

getting into the seeds and more

importantly there's no way for them to

rip this off we'll see this one debuted

to similar results as he hangs by a few

toes this is what I really started to

gain an appreciation for what they were

capable of it definitely seemed like

this bird feeder was their favorite okay

yeah they're flexing on me for sure and

at this point a plan was forming in my

head but just to be thorough

I moved the post away from the fence and

I can't say I was surprised when they

just climbed it nor was I surprised to

see they could shimmy up and down a

small metal pole or even a large one for

that matter and was that they could

climb a certain pole material was a moot

point anyways because of this look at

this these guys are basically freakin

rodents eyes Simone biles and on some

level this is what it felt like when

someone stole a package from my porch

that didn't belong to them and I

harnessed that indignation spending a

year designing the glitter bombe package


complete with special fragrances if I

could design a package to deter thieves

could I design a birdfeeder

to deter squirrels and so after a couple

weeks of brainstorming designing and

building with my buddy John we put it

all together in this 20 second build


here are the basic elements for starters

here's where I've placed their favorite

bird feeder at the end of the course and

to sweeten the deal right below that

there's a trapdoor and if they step here

it releases a butt ton of walnuts and

unfurl some celebratory dinners why

walnuts I'm glad you asked

I'm using walnuts because over the

course of the week I put out of a Fae of

seven different nuts and seeds and all

four times I repeated the experiment

walnuts were always the one they ate

first what's great about placing this

here is it levels the playing field as

the birds can fly up and get as much

food as they want anytime they need it

the squirrels however will have to work

for it because the only way to make it

to this platform is if they work their

way through my eight-part Ninja Warrior

obstacle course which all starts right

here this is the only platform on the

course that has a pole that isn't

covered in slippery stuff which means

this is where they have to climb up to

enter the course if they try and get up

any other way they can't keep a good

grip and they just slide back down so

the first challenge is the bridge of

instability now this may look easy but

the trick is it attaches at a single

point on each end and from a physics

standpoint that makes it no different

than trying to crawl across the

tightrope it's the same deceptive

principle with that one carnival game

that's so impossible I broke it down in

another video where I use physics to

show which carnival games were basically

scams and the science on how to beat

them next up the maze of a thousand

corridors this one's a bit more cerebral

but if they make it through that it will

bring them to the pitch fork tumblers

which are inspired by the show wipeout

but unlike wipeout I should point out

that all these contraptions are squirrel

friendly and even with a little back

force they will break away and stop

spinning now if they can make it past

the pitchfork tumblers of treachery they

come to one of my personal favorites the


I put her in the temptu squirrel to lose

focus on the real prize at the end of

the course because this pad has a

pressure sensor underneath it and it

connects to a microcontroller that has a

relay that connects to a solenoid that

connects to a pneumatic piston that

connects back to this platform with the

pressure sensor and so if they stand

here for more than three seconds they've

got to start the course all over again

next up is the slinky bridge of

deception I'm suspended a juicy walnut

right in the middle but there's no way

this bridge will support their weight so

it'll be interesting to see how they

approach it the six challenge is called

the tourist trap it's actually a bit of

a reward for making it this far if the

squirrel sticks their head through this

board my wife painted it's just a

photo-op they can hang on the wall of

their tiny squirrel nests a place of

walnut here is an incentive for them not

to miss this unique opportunity the

penultimate challenge are the quad steps

of great elevation this is taken

straight from Ninja Warrior and this is

super tricky because these pads are all

totally smooth and placed at a 45-degree

incline and now for the last challenge

at this point they are a mere few feet

away from their ultimate goal but if

they're not careful they'll have to deal

with the orbital assist platform aka the

final countdown aka it's not a catapult

it's a squirrel of bolts which means

they now have to go back and start all

the way over from the beginning

now if they want to avoid that fate they

just need to stand on this pad for less

than three seconds but once again I've

placed a diversion here this would

projects an optical illusion of anything

you place in the bottom of this dish

it's actually super trippy and looks

even more impressive in real life

because the projected image is 3d

they're like nine bucks on Amazon and I

put a leaf that explains the juicy

physics of how they work in the video

description now with regards to squirrel

safety I know I seem to have this

reputation of

improvised high-speed projectiles and so

this one might worry a few animal lovers

out there including my wife we have five

pets and one child and the child was the

only one I had a say in so rest assured

I can adjust the pressure on the piston

and we'll be seeing way below any launch

force that could hurt any of our

adorable backyard contestants and so

finally after making through all that

we're back here at the world's most

satisfying bird feeder as far as I'm

concerned if they make it here they've

earned the right to gorge next to the

birds for as long as they want and so

after nearly a month of prep work the

course was officially open for business

they could smell the walnuts at the

final station and you can see the gears

turning because right above that was

their favorite bird feeder and so before

long we had our first contender that


didn't exactly go as planned so Rick

decides to regroup speaking of which

that's Rick there are a total of four

competitors that will be attempting the

course first up is Rick and he weighs

500 grams I know this because he's

actually standing on a custom-made scale

Rick is very clever as you'll see here

in a minute but he also gets spooked

easily next up is Marty he's basically

indistinguishable from Rick Rick and

Marty are inseparable and pretty much

spend all their time together as a pair

our third contender is Frank also coming

in around 500 grams

he's very gutsy he's also kind of done

finally we've got my personal favorite

fat Gus he's just really charming and

will strike a pose if he sees a camera

he also really likes to eat any tips the

scales and an impressive 800 grams well

those are the squirrels are kind of

particular before making a selection and

then gracefully leaping away that Gus

just goes for it hands-free just makes

himself real comfortable here he is

laying out with a light snack from the

bird feeder I mean you can't fault the

guy for just clearly appreciating a good

meal so now that you know our four

contenders let's get back to Rick so he

hops back on and he's actually doing

better than his first attempt

just barely this is the best because

he's like okay I got this never well

maybe I know I definitely don't and this

was the exact moment I realized I just

might be outmatched here marty was

watching Rick and after a quick tip of

his toes in the water adopts a strategy

right out of the gate so close but an

excellent recovery in fact gasps perhaps

predictably comes up a little short

which brings us to the maze of a

thousand corridors which to be honest

they mastered this one pretty quickly

here's a solid run from fat gasps and

now for the pitchfork tumblers of

treachery marty was like yeah that's a

hard pass

bad Gus is just like abort Frank is just

like nope then he's like wait a second

hmm still nope then Marty flies in real

hard over the top he didn't make it

through but that's partial credit as far

as I'm concerned

and then here's bad Gus with my favorite

attempt by far and then Frank shows no

fear which helps him pull up this near

flawless run and finally smart Rick

surgically weaves his way through

essentially untouched and I should

mention the squirrels were most active

from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. so every morning

I've been getting up before the sunrise

to start filming from in my house like

one of those camouflage nature

photographers only like a suburbanite

version I've also had a handful of

streaming cameras rolling 24/7 which has

allowed me to make such discoveries as

we have the world's worst guard dog

thanks for the help al now back to the

home wrecker you could see Rick is

instinctively suspicious of this gold

digger and only for a brief moment puts

his full weight on the platform I told

you is smart his buddy Marty on the

other hand


she is a cruel mistress and because I

know my wife is going to ask me no this

will not hurt the squirrel for two


number one they are amazing like cats

and always land on their feet

and two they themselves were jumping

from this height all the time and in

some cases much higher in fact squirrels

are one of the few mammals that can

survive a fall from any height because

they make their terminal velocity so low

you can see it right here they make

their body as flat as possible then put

their tail back to increase drag they

basically become their own parachute and

then right before they land they pull in

and fully extend their arms and legs to

act as shock absorbing landing gear this

is so cool now back to the course we're

even smart Rick eventually lets his

guard down which is exactly when she

strikes but just like all the other

obstacles so far after a day or two

they'd mastered it in this case even

disregarding her offering of a fresh

walnut now onto the slinky bridge of

deception and this was the sleeper

obstacle in my book that is not a large

gap which they can easily jump but

having the slinky there just threw them

off somehow you can see how much Frank

is struggling here and he's the brave

one and Rick only jumps when Marty shows

up for emotional support

but like all the obstacles so far after

a day or two they'd mastered it now on

to our third to last obstacle the

tourist trap and this one was just a

freaking delight a little peanut butter

really did the trick here


now here comes Fat Gus and I mean how

fat Gus is this he sees the camera and

he's like paid to me like one of your

french squirrels yeah no no takers all

right here's another classic Gus where

he looks at the camera wait a second

play that back and freeze Jun enhance


well turns out fat Gus is not a dude and

he's pregnant which meant I was suddenly

feeling real uncomfortable about all

those weight comments so after a bit of

a pivot to smooth things over we

soldiered on to the quad steps of great

elevation Frank comes in rather

confident almost to his demise but he

pulls off the smooth recovery so after

not much time at all they were looking

pretty good here in fact one morning I

notice Marty totally skipped the last

step altogether which I took as a

challenge and so I removed the middle

step to see what they would do and who

else but fantastic Gus let's slow that

down a bit there's such amazing jumpers

so I suppose the quick master here

wasn't a surprise I mean this right here

is probably a 10 foot job and here's

some classic brave but dumb Frank he'd

already entered the course normally and

made it to the homewrecker at least a

dozen times by this point and if for

some reason he decides this 12-foot jump

is his best course of action smart Rick

was the first one to enter the course so

in the end after about a week of effort

it was fitting he was the one to make it

to the jackpot first and he's so stoked

he apparently wants to run the whole

course in Reverse the nitesite we

probably should have made the jackpot a

little quieter here's Marty as always

not far behind


he's also a bit flighty as you know

which worked against him here because

down below fantastic us ever the

opportunist comes through with the real

stroke of brilliance but pretty soon

Marty comes back like um I'm the one who

kind of and then fantastic Gus is like

you snooze you lose and let me just say

fantastic us when you sit like that you

don't look at Alice over 700 grams

eventually they learned that sound was a

good thing and they quickly returned for

the reward before fantastic Gus got any

ideas so here's a single camera shot of

a full run and by the end all of them

could do the full course in less than 40

seconds and while we're watching you

might be wondering what happen to the

squirrel apud unfortunately they didn't

really fall for my illusion much but I'm

about to show you the two times they did

and as a promise to my wife I turned the

pressure to only 40% full power so the

acceleration the squirrel would feel is

about half a G which is ten times less

than a typical rollercoaster

additionally I never turned on either

the homewrecker trapdoor or the launch

platform when I wasn't actively watching

from inside my house where I had a

manual override button because as safe

as it was something about launching

fantastic Gus just didn't feel right now

what you're about to see is gonna look

pretty chaotic but when we check the

slow-mo amazingly I'll show you how the

squirrel is totally in control pretty

much the whole time all right now here's

a second angle also even if you don't

trust my calculations I can assure you

that the squirrels did not care

in both launch cases they were back up

on the course in like five minutes

here's the slow-mo and see if you can

spot the two critical things he does to

make sure he lands feet down did you

catch it the first critical moment is

right here he's already done the

predictive math and he's locked his head

on the spa where he plans to land and

now his head will not lose that lock the

whole way down what's crazy is the time

it takes him to do all the predictive

math to know exactly where he will land

into lock his head is 300 milliseconds

that's exactly this long literally less

than the blink of an eye that blows my

mind but if you think about it it makes

sense these reactions would have evolved

to be razor-sharp

if you live your life in the trees

constantly making split-second decisions

and besides picking the landing spot

with his head the second trick is with

his arms when he wants to keep his upper

body from rotating he has his arms out

but the moment he wants to rotate his

upper body quickly he tucks them in and

then when he wants to stop rotating he

extends them out again this is straight

up conservation of angular momentum it's

the same trick ice skaters use basically

bring your lives in if you want to

rotate fast extend them out if you want

to slow the rotation my buddy Destin

from smarter every day also made a video

analyzing how cats always land on their

feet and they do the exact same two

tricks the head target lock and bringing

Lynde's in to rotate and out to stop

rotation here's the second launch and

this may look like pure luck in real

time but the slow-mo tells a different


in that amount of time he's already made

a slight lateral push in that direction

and locked his landing target with his

head we know from the previous clip he

can rotate his body to any orientation

but he doesn't in this case because he

sees his small push has already aligned

him for the perfect landing that's just

so cool and so after those two physics

demonstrations I disabled both the

launcher and the homewrecker trapdoor

and just let them enjoy the course in

peace as far as I was concerned they had

earned it plus after spending a month

together we were sort of broke by this

point if they saw me coming out to work

they would certainly jump away but then

they just quickly be right back and

sadly all good things must come to an

end and because I didn't want them to

develop an unhealthy dependence on my

handouts after about a week of free rein

I took down the course but in its place

I put up a specialized squirrel size

picnic table every morning this store

opens to release just a few walnuts as a

little treat to remind them of our good

times together although I had to laugh

that after all this somehow I didn't

anticipate on day one Frank would

immediately try and figure out and

partially succeed in finding a way to

beat the system like everything else so

they quickly caught on and now on some

mornings I'll catch them just waiting

for the daily ration chilling patiently

on the bench seat that is everyone but

fantastic gusts don't ever change buddy

when I started this two-month long

adventure trying to birdwatch I had no

idea I would enjoy squirrel watching so

much more it's also made me realized

that even amongst the

structures and pavement and powerlines

how interesting nature can be in a

single suburban backyard if you just

really stop the look even the plates are

amazing I had no idea that his vines

grow they spin around looking for

something to grab on to I didn't

anticipate the wide variety of animals

that use fences as inner yard highways

to get around as a substitute for all

the trees that existed before we got


even little interactions like this

spider extending his life with this very

timely leap into the unknown we're just

so delightful to see but of all the

animals I can definitively say now that

squirrels are my absolute favorite and

there's certainly a more formidable

adversary than for parks they're kind of

adorable incredibly crafty curious by

Nature athletic and persistent turns out

squirrels can live to be 20 years old

and so I like to think that someday a

fantastic gust will bring his grand

squirrels to the fence and regaled them

with tales of cowboys and courage and

legendary walnut piles if you find

yourself bored and you like the idea of

making a squirrel Ninja Warrior course

but you don't have the skills or the

squirrels then here's basically the next

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