Inventing a novel feeder
I wanted a bird feeder that would make birds do a trick
for a seed. I invented one with a crankshaft that activated a seed valve when the wheel turned. It worked in the lab, but not in the field. A squirrel chewed
it up like a piece of toast. I watched him. It took 5 minutes. After several more
prototypes, one finally worked that squirrels
would not ruin. It was all wood. It worked fine until it rained. The wheel
got too heavy for the chickadees to turn. The seed got wet inside and wouldn't
dispense. I redesigned the top and wheel frame to be made out of plastic,
like the one at right. I molded them in the garage. It took another year to produce the first one.
It worked good. Ten years later the first unit still cranks out. Seed stays
dry. Squirrels use it, but don't harm it. It works in all kinds of weather,
even covered with snow. I patented the design and the easy-access top.
Birds are smart
There was no way of knowing weather the birds would actually use such a thing. There are so many other places for them to find food. Luckily it dispenses seed weather they figure it out or not. When they start out, they don't know what they're doing. It doesn't take them long to find out. Finches, Chickadees, Titmice, Cardinals Rose Breasted Gross Beaks, doves, wrens, Indigo Buntings, woodpeckers, and Nuthatches all take a turn. Each has a different approach to turning the wheel. House Finches and Nuthatches favor turning the wheel in one direction. Chickadees and Gold Finches go back and forth in a rocking motion. The picture at left shows a Nuthatch riding the wheel counter-clockwise while it watches and listens for the seed before it slides out the spout. See its head pointed back. Usually birds feed off the cedar trays of the wheel. In this case the bird caught the seed in mid-air. What you see at left is typical.
More birds means more fun
The wheel turns only when it is off-balance, Two birds opposite each other make a stalemate. Six birds and a chipmunk make a circus.