Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder: Think Like a Kid

Squirrels – some people love ’em, some people want to keep them out of their bird feeders.

National Wildlife Federation now has an app where you can help the squirrel overcome obstacles to get lunch at a bird feeder. It’s called Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder and it’s free right now in the iTunes app store.

Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder - Level 1
Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder – Level 1

My name is Carla Brown and I work on the online team at National Wildlife Federation. My husband Bob made this app using art by Ranger Rick magazine artist Jack Desrocher.

We got the idea to make this app because I noticed that one of the most popular search terms on www.nwf.org related to keeping squirrels out of bird feeders.

Our kids, Nora and Russell, were playing a variety of games online to learn about math, and their favorites were those where they had to solve logic puzzles to get their “hero” to safety. So in this app, our squirrel is our hero (sorry to those who do not like squirrels), and we are trying to get him to lunch.

Kids Get It, Most Adults Do Not

While building the app, we tested it with people of all ages. We learned something fascinating – younger kids were usually better at it than adults. That’s because when you first play Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder, you are likely to fail. Younger kids are used to failing because they are always learning. They don’t stigmatize “failing” – it’s just learning. So when their squirrel goes hungry, they don’t start blaming the game or their device. They just try again.

My kids playing on an iPad
My kids playing on an iPad
When I tested the game with my colleagues, almost every one of them would try level one, and then give up. They would say things like, “I’m not very good at online games.” It highlighted for me that we are limited by the stories we tell ourselves.

A few of our adult friends were great at the game, which made me wonder – what is it about that friend that makes them keep trying?

Sometimes, I think it is because they just have more perseverance, a great quality. But sometimes, I think it is because they are the friends who worry less about being efficient all of the time. Moms in particular were quick to quit. I believe that is because as moms, we know we have about one million things to do, and getting this squirrel to lunch is not on that list. I’m one of those people who would naturally say – hey, is this the best use of my time?

But for those of you who want to think more like a kid, or build your tolerance for failing/learning, or just think squirrels are nifty – give it a try! And then find a kid, and watch what they do. It can teach you a lot about the dynamic of kids and adults. At the least, it is fun to find things that kids excel at more than adults. It makes my children deliriously happy when I am less proficient than they are. And if you get stuck – just ask a kid for help.

So enjoy Squirrel Appreciation Day and download your free Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder app from iTunes for your iPad, iPod or iPhone.

By the way, for those stuck in snow, level 8 is in snow and *spoiler alert* – the snowman’s head can fall off.

Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder - Level 8 - Winter
Squirrel vs. Bird Feeder – Level 8 – Winter