Know Your Enemy
Although they’re often thought to be close relatives to weasels, raccoons are more closely related to pandas. They sleep in dens during the day and forage at night. Summer finds raccoons devouring copious amounts of food to build a thick fat layer over their entire body, even their tails. Each winter, raccoons primarily stay in their dens and sleep, but they don’t hibernate—when temps are above 28˚F, they’ll come out and forage for food. By spring they weigh about half the amount they did the previous autumn.
These sneaky, masked night invaders make formidable opponents to backyard birders. They have excellent night vision, sensitive hearing and dexterous, five-fingered forepaws that can handle, rub and manipulate everything that interests them. They can unscrew, open and unhook just about anything that you hang within their reach. Raccoons can climb any pole larger than ¼” diameter, drop from 35–40 ft. heights unharmed and sprint at speeds of up to 15 mph.