'That Scared Me': Woman Stunned to Discover Identity of Bird Feeder Thief

A conservationist got a little more than she bargained for after deciding to investigate why her bird feeders were so depleted every night.

While squirrels are often considered among the main beneficiaries of bird feeders, photographer and writer Danae Wolfe has had an entirely different experience.

A conservationist who runs the website Chasing Bugs, Wolfe told Newsweek she originally set up a Netvue Birdfy Feeder camera to capture some of the incredible species that frequent her garden, which is a certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

It's not unusual for other animals to steal from what is a readily available and easy-to-access source of food. Squirrels, for instance, have been found to take copious amounts from bird feeders in the past. This was most recently highlighted in a U.K. study from 2018 published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning which saw cameras set up to monitor bird feeders across an average suburban neighborhood.

Incredibly, of the 33,000 logged visits to bird feeders, 44 percent were attributed to gray squirrels, who tended to eat more than birds during their trips.

The initiative, which was established by the National Wildlife Federation in 1973, was to encourage homeowners to maintain healthy and diverse animal habitats within a well-maintained ecosystem.

"I'm a conservation educator and wanted to begin keeping a formal record of the wildlife visitors we've seen in and around our home and thought this would provide the perfect opportunity to help us in that endeavor," Wolfe explained. She said that until that point, they had "blamed the squirrels" for stealing from the bird feeders, which were depleted on a nightly basis.

However, when she reviewed the security camera footage, she couldn't believe what she saw. "I was shocked to discover that we had deer, flying squirrels, skunk, and a few cheeky raccoons that were taking advantage of the bird seed buffet," she said.

Eager to share her discoveries, Wolfe took to TikTok with a video that included a picture of a thieving raccoon being literally caught in the act of trying to nab some seeds.

It's a development that she said has left her stunned.

"While we had seen raccoons a few times in the nearly seven years we've lived in our home, we had no idea they were visiting us nightly to deplete our bird feeders," she said. "It's a bit of a shock."

Wolfe is not alone in being taken aback at what she saw on the clip, with many of those following her on social media echoing these sentiments.

"Nothing could have prepared me for this," one viewer wrote, with another reacting with a simple: "OMG." Elsewhere, one follower claimed: "that scared me" in response to the footage while a fourth saw the funny side, commenting: "I'm crying I can't' stop laughing."

At the time of writing, the video has been viewed 8.5 million times.

Wolfe, for her part, is stunned at the success of the clip, but is definitely looking at the positives and appears eager to use what she learned from the video to better serve the animals in her garden.

"We're very happy to know our yard is supporting a diversity of wildlife," she said. "We're also looking for ways to ensure we're supporting our wildlife friends with natural foods by planting plenty of native plants and stewarding our yard with nature in mind!"

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A bird feeder and a raccoon.
A bird feeder and a raccoon - a security camera picked up footage of the animal stealing the bird food. chasingbugs