Birdwatching Meets A Computer-Controlled Water Cannon, Awesomeness Ensues

squirrel turret

Sure, squirrels may bother the average home owner, but few have attempted as creative a way to control them as this automated water turret. Check out the video after the break to see how this was accomplished, but if you’d rather just see how the squirrels reacted to getting squirted, fast forward to around 16:00. According to [Kurt] he was sure this would be his solution, however, his conclusion was that “squirrels don’t care.”

As for the presentation, it’s more about how to use [OpenCV], or Open Source Computer Vision. It’s quite a powerful piece of software, especially considering that something like this would cost thousands of dollars in a normal market.  An Arduino is used to interface the computer’s outputs to the real world and control a squirt gun. If you’d rather not program something like this yourself, you could always simply use a garden hose as someone suggests just after the video.


Thanks to [Bill] for letting us know about this excellent talk!

23 thoughts on “Birdwatching Meets A Computer-Controlled Water Cannon, Awesomeness Ensues

  1. This is so awesome, I watched it mostly because I wanted to see him shooting squirrels with an automated cannon.. but the talk and the approach and how it evolved as he went through the process was cool. Makes me want to grab this open source APIs and play around, which is exactly what articles on HAD should do!

  2. Perfect timing.

    The ice is out, the geese are back, and just today resumed sitting – and $hi##ing – on the dock.

    Squiirels may get used to getting wet for food, but the geese will find a different place to sit.

    1. In freezing weather, if they get wet enough times with pre-chilled water, they will either freeze, move on, or aggressively find new calorie sources/heat sources.

      For the geese, I wonder if an automated ring-toss would be possible? Every time they raise their heads, a small hoop gets thrown on. Might not actually discourage them, but I imagine the videos would be well worth the effort.

    1. …Which is why they make those fancy feeders that shut with too much weight on the perch, and they do work to a point. The problem is that 5 chickadees = 3 [purple|house] finches = 2 [cardinals|grossbeaks] = 1 red squirrel = 1/3 grey squirrel. So to keep all the squirrels off you end up with frequent false positives due to combined bird weight which puzzles the birds no end why the food suddenly disappeared.

      This gets even more useless when you have chipmunks (1/2 red squirrel) that not only climb onto the feeder but into the hopper of the feeder through the seed tray holes.

  3. This is awesome.

    A boring, but more easily available solution is to put chilli powder in your bird feeder. The squirrels can taste the spice, but birds can’t. The squirrels will come back every now and again to see if the spicey nuts/seeds are gone.

    I have learned that the spice must flow!

  4. If he wants the squirrels to care, he should use something other than water. Vinegar solution works well for convincing cats not to come back and might work on squirrels, but is also not good for plants. Urine also convinces cats not to return, as you might imagine, even better than vinegar.

    Best way to make squirrels disappear is to make them prey. Bring in a predator, or hunt them for real.

    Hissing of compressed air blowing at them may also repel squirrels (although they will quickly adapt to the new stimulus, once they find out it is not associated with a threat.)

    Or maybe the water should be more solid when it hits the squirrels?

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