Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Squirrels are making me squirrely

My dad was an avid gardener and a lover of birds. Especially in his retirement years on a gorgeous piece of property in North Carolina, he put out bird feeders all over, but the main one was by the picture window at the dining table. There was a hummingbird feeder, and we'd sit and watch those feisty little birds chasing each other away. But there was also a seed feeder and too often we'd watch the squirrels pillage the contents. Dad tried every kind of squirrel-safe bird feeder then invented, and the little beasts outwitted him every time.
Now I'm fighting the same battle. I have a cylindrical mesh bird feeder outside my kitchen window, and I love to watch the birds. I'm not as knowledgeable as Dad about the kinds and the other day saw a small black-and-white bird with a bright red spot on the top of his head. Betty is always asking what I want for my birthday, so it was an aha! moment. I've asked her for a small illustrated guide to the birds of North Texas. I do of course recognize a few--a cardinal mama and papa come to the feeder, and Jacob loves to watch for the "red bird." He'll creep quietly into the kitchen and stand and watch (well, he also likes to watch the washing machine through the glass door in the front, so this may not say much about his powers of observation!). Mockingbirds try to get on the feeder, but they're so big they flap around in an ungainly manner.
Alas, the squirrels have discovered how to stretch from the tree to the feeder. They wrap themselves around it and feast away until I happen to the kitchen window and commence to shouting--and, yes--swearing. I bang on the window with a toy gun (I tried shooting it, thinking the clicking noise would alarm them but no such luck). Some of them scurry up the chain, into the trees and away, but some bolder fellows just stare at me with the bright eyes. That makes me so mad I go charging into the back yard, waving a wooden cane, and yelling for Scooby to do his job of squirrel chasing. By then, of course, the critter is gone. I filled the feeder to the top yesterday and it's empty tonight. At a hardship to the birds, I'm going to leave it empty for a couple of days and see if that teaches the squirrels.
The squirrels have already begun to dig in my planter boxes. For Pete's sake, nothing's blooming  yet, and they're disturbing my seeds. I may try mothballs.
But I know what I want for my birthday--children, are you listening?--a caged bird feeder. I saw one in Westcliff Hardware that was neat. The birds land on spring-controlled perches and eat but if a squirrel lands on one, its greater weight closes the trap on the feed. Some caged feeders won't let the medium sized birds, like cardinals, fly through but  this one would let everyone eat--except the critters. However, it was priced beyond what I consider an impulse buy, so I put it on my wish list.
I know we should love all God's creatures, but the squirrels try my patience sorely. Only worse thing was the year roof rats found my bird feeder--and then my attic!

No comments: