When the cats which lived on our front porch disappeared a couple of years ago, we breathed a sigh of relief and declared we would raise no more domesticated animals.
Because of those cats we had stopped feeding the wild birds. One day, as Bill watched from the kitchen window, one of those cats sat quietly under the bird feeder observing the birds. The bird feeder was on a limb almost seven feet off of the ground. Suddenly the cat leaped up to the bird feeder and caught a bird.
We decided it was unfair to the birds to entice them to be easy prey for those leaping cats. That coupled with the past few mild winters made our ban on feeding birds stick. The bird feeders eventually fell apart due to wind and lack of maintenance.
There were still some squirrels who dropped in for a handout, but they were satisfied with peanuts. One in particular had Bill trained to hand him a peanut when the squirrel approached the back step.
Then it got really cold, the cats were gone, and so Bill decided to buy a new bird feeder and provide for our wild friends again. The bird feeder chosen must have been the top of the line. There are three tall clear plastic tubes with several feeding stations on each. The tubes alternate with brass-like columns. It has a domed top on it, and it is supposed to be squirrel-proof.
It took a while before the birds found and were willing to use the new feeder. The squirrel sat in the tree or on the ground and watched. The birds kicked a lot of seed down to the ground. The squirrel decided he liked the sunflower seeds.
The next thing you know, the squirrel was trying to jump from the limb onto the new feeder. He fell clear down to the ground many times, but skittered up the tree and tried again. Eventually he managed to land on the feeder and anchor himself with his tail and one foot while he fed on seeds directly from the squirrel-proof feeder.
Bill thought the squirrel was unfair competition for the birds so he bought a squirrel feeder. It’s made of two pieces of wood set at a right angle, and it has a dowel to put an ear of corn on. The squirrel loves it.
Occasionally he invites a friend for dinner, but he makes it clear this feeder is his throne. He observes the whole backyard as he sits up there in his glory, and occasionally he even takes a nap up there.
Then he noticed some of the birds were still afraid of the fancy new feeder, so Bill bought one of the familiar old ones. It has a good-sized clear plastic tube with a royal blue base, bottom and top, Squirrel-proof of course.
From his throne the squirrel regarded the new bird feeder for several days. It looked very impressive, especially when the male red cardinals landed on it with all of the white snow in the background.
But I don’t think the squirrel was watching the red cardinals on the bright blue feeder against the white snow. I think he was watching all those shiny black sunflower seeds.
Sure enough, one morning when I looked out the kitchen windows, there was the squirrel taking a flying leap, landing on the sloped blue top of the bird feeder, and sliding off to the ground six feet below, but persistence must be his middle name. He finally managed to land on the top of the feeder and hold on for a few seconds before he fell off.
Next thing I knew he was able to hold onto the top, turn himself around, and bite into the blue top.
By the time Bill went out to see what was going on, the squirrel had gnawed a hole in the roof of the new feeder and was happily stealing sunflower seeds right from the top. Bill plugged the hole shut, and the squirrel seems content to sit on his throne and eat peanuts and corn. But I wonder what he’s planning next.
Author’s note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate February 12, 2003.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.