[Tweeters] rodents at the bird feeders

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 18 18:58:57 PDT 2017

Dear Megan, Wally and Tweeters,
Wow, cool story about getting hantavirus before it was cool, to put it cavalierly!
I just put some more rat poison in the attic crawlspace of our house, as we have monstrous big rats that chew on everything that is in storage up there, making hideous and unsettling noises as they do so. They recently got into all our old baby keepsakes. It was quite a job to clean up after that episode. I doubt they'd be here if it weren't for the bird feeders.
Having Barn Owls probably helps keep our rat population down, but only to a degree. I have caught a lot of rats, and a few mice, in rat traps, but trapping them just does not seem to work as well as poison. I shudder to think of what might happen if the owl or some other predator caught a poisoned rat or mouse, but the destruction and annoyance these rodents cause us has long since driven me round the bend, so to speak.
Oddly, we don't seem to see many wild rodents here, just house mice and rats. I can never tell if the rats are black or Norway, but it does not matter to me.
Once in a while I have been lucky enough to shoot a rat when I see one at the feeders. Like Wally, I never ever touch a dead rodent. I pretend I'm working with plutonium at Hanford, and grasp the cadavers with various remote devices, such as thick gloves holding plastic bags within plastic bags.
My old friend Jaime used to pick up all sorts of dead critters and examine them. I always thought he was bonkers, and Wally's tale seems to back that up. Not worth it.
The joy of having birds at the feeders far outweighs the nuisance caused by varmints, but there are times when they can be truly vexatious. Best of luck to all who have to contend with them.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch

From: Wally Davis <wallydavis3 at gmail.com>
To: 'Megan Lyden' <meganlyden at msn.com>; tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 5:26 PM
Subject: RE: [Tweeters] advice on bird feeders/Deer Mice

#yiv6150004204 #yiv6150004204 -- _filtered #yiv6150004204 {font-family:Calibri;panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4;} _filtered #yiv6150004204 {font-family:Tahoma;panose-1:2 11 6 4 3 5 4 4 2 4;}#yiv6150004204 #yiv6150004204 p.yiv6150004204MsoNormal, #yiv6150004204 li.yiv6150004204MsoNormal, #yiv6150004204 div.yiv6150004204MsoNormal {margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;font-size:11.0pt;}#yiv6150004204 a:link, #yiv6150004204 span.yiv6150004204MsoHyperlink {color:blue;text-decoration:underline;}#yiv6150004204 a:visited, #yiv6150004204 span.yiv6150004204MsoHyperlinkFollowed {color:purple;text-decoration:underline;}#yiv6150004204 span.yiv6150004204EmailStyle17 {color:windowtext;}#yiv6150004204 span.yiv6150004204EmailStyle18 {color:black;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;}#yiv6150004204 .yiv6150004204MsoChpDefault {font-size:10.0pt;} _filtered #yiv6150004204 {margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in;}#yiv6150004204 div.yiv6150004204WordSection1 {}#yiv6150004204 I did my graduate work in biology studying rodents in the chaparral near Berkeley.  Unfortunately I caught what I believe was hantavirus a few years before it was even identified as a disease and spent a month in the UC San Francisco Medical Center.   Currently I have a large feeder with a large tray. Some of the sunflower seeds go over the side particularly when Steller’s jays are feeding. I modified my feeder to hinder but not stop the jays by making them duck to get at the food. What’s on the ground attracts a lot of ground feeding birds such as spotted towhee which, of course, I enjoy.  What I do is set a bunch of live traps so I don’t accidentally kill a bird, chipmunk, or chickaree.  When I catch a rat or mouse the whole trap goes into a tray of water; I dispose of the cadaver by emptying the trap in the woods.  I never touch the rodent.  Suet is the best bait I have found.  From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu [mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Megan Lyden
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 1:28 PM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Tweeters] advice on bird feeders/Deer Mice  Hi Tweeters,  Any advice?   I took down my bird feeders; I saw a rat the other night, and set out a trap, but kept the feeders up.   Much as I don't want rats….the next night I trapped a Deer Mouse, which carry Hanta Virus, so I took the feeders down.   A guy in Issasqua died last year and a woman in Redmond was infected with the virus: https://publichealthinsider.com/2017/03/21/two-cases-of-hantavirus-reported-in-king-county-since-december-2016-be-aware-of-health-risks-associated-with-deer-mouse-infestations/.  I saw one article which said around 14% of Deer Mice are carriers and another said around 40% are.  Either way, I don't want to be paranoid, but I don't want a deer mouse infestation.   So………I'd eventually like to put my feeders back up but wonder if anyone has extra-large tray under their feeders.  Has that prevented seed from scattering on the ground?  I'd like to know before I buy one.  Any other ideas would be appreciated as well,  Megan LBellevue, WA    _______________________________________________
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