Jan 212018

January 21, 2018

The battle continues. Each side remains vigilant, fighting with weapons, creative and traditional. My objective in this daily skirmish is feeding the birds.

I lack proper tactics because I don’t fully understand the enemy. I am not sure of his motives or his strategy. He frequently changes his patterns of attack.  The birds are hungry.

I refer to “he,” but frankly there are dozens of chunky, otter-sized squirrels in my backyard. I put food out for them under the deck, where the furry beasts can find it, in theory, before they ravage the bird feeders.

We’ve had two feeders in this same place for years. The feeders are attached to a metal hook two-and-a-half feet over the deck. From the bottom of the feeders, it’s a good twelve feet to the ground.

When I retired in October, I replaced both of the feeders. The old feeders were, in a word, disgusting.  I failed to realize the seriousness of the situation and purchased frivolous, brightly colored feeders that were unlike the old ones. Rookie mistake.  Both feeders were knocked down overnight. One was broken to bits, chewed or torn up. Beyond repair. The second one, a long cylinder, was bloodied but not broken.  I hung it back up and tied it to the shepherd’s crook with a bread tie.

At the time, I suspected raccoons and felt confused because I didn’t know how a coon could balance enough on the two-inch deck rail to knock down the feeder. Was it something bigger? Did Sasquatch come out of the woods and merely reach his long, hairy arm up from the yard to get bits of sunflower seeds and grain?

After observing the frequent gymnastics of local members of the family Sciuridae, I knew it wasn’t Sasquatch or an adept rare Indiana bobcat, or even a sure-footed coon. It was Bullwinkle’s friend, Rocky.

I purchased a second feeder, like the cylindrical one that Rocky had been unable to knock down. Securing a bread wrapper around the top kept it in place. He still managed to jump on the feeders and eat the seeds and shake more on the ground.  I posted on Facebook for advice.   Several commenters suggested I leave things alone.  I had not considered this.

I decided to experiment and not fill the feeders every day.  I would not let them go empty, but I had observed that Mr. Squirrel likes a full feeder. Two days passed with half-full feeders. Rocky didn’t show up for those two days.

The feeders were empty this morning. I’m watching for the rapid rodent as I work. We’ll see what happens. Some kind folks suggested that squirrels and birds can live in harmony. I say, harumph but am willing to give it a try.

My desk sits in front of the window, so I don’t miss much at the feeders. This morning the neighborhood cat, a large tom with yellow and white fur, jumped on the deck and went to the feeder. All God’s children are hungry. I’m expecting a giraffe any day now.

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