I have just recently put up my first bird feeder in my backyard. It’s on a wrought* iron post thing that I think they call a Shepherd’s Pole or something.
I bought a pretty inexpensive bird feeder since I was a novice feeder of birds. So, the one I have is basically a plastic tube with six holes with pegs for the birdies to stand on while eating the super cheap birdseed that I have provided.
I filled up the feeder, drove the pole into the ground and hung the feeder. After doing some gardening later that day, I turned on the sprinkler to water my new babies. To my dismay, my new bird feeder was getting soaked and I have no idea how the birds will feel about this. About wet sunflower seeds, basically. Maybe they won’t like that and not come back. So, I turn off the sprinkler and move the pole, under this small, developing, fruit tree that I planted almost 4 years ago and has barely grown 1 inch. (It was on clearance at Home Depot, maybe that’s why…you get what you pay for, right?) So, I move on with my day.
Hours later, I look out my dining room window to look over my hard garden work and new bird feeder to see it’s glory and guess what?? There weren’t ANY birds, but there was an enormous squirrel hanging down on my cheap feeder!
I yell, “Get OUTTA there!!” He doesn’t care, if he could, he’d have given me the finger. So, I jazz up my little love muffin 25 pound cocker spaniel/shih-tzu mix, Sam (My Dad calls him a “Cock-A-Shit”) to go out and get him! (Or her, I have no idea how to tell the sex of a squirrel, especially from this distance.) I send him out the door like a greyhound out the shoot. Down the stairs, across the lawn he goes like a bat outta hell! Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark….up to the gate. No where near the garden. The squirrel is still on the feeder. I yell to Sam, “He’s over there!!” I think Sam understands English…and he definitely does this time because he runs right over at the squirrel. The squirrel takes off. Up the stupid crab apple or whatever it is tree that never grows.
Sam comes back in, gets a treat for good work and I resume my duty at the window.
Here he comes again. He doesn’t care about my dog. He doesn’t care about me yelling out the window, banging on the pane. He’s like, “Whatever Lady” and “Why don’t you buy some better quality bird food next time, cheapskate.” Ugh. I’m being mocked by an overweight squirrel.
A couple days later, I walk down to my garden and he’s out there. On the ground, under the bird feeder, diggin’ around in my newly laid mulch for crumbs of crappy bird seed. When he sees me, he runs up another tree and just sits on a branch. Staring at me. I stare back at him. Our eyes are locked. I think he understands English too. So, I literally and out loud say to him/her (I still don’t know the sex, even this close up.) I say, “That’s fine. You can eat what falls to the ground. I know you’re hungry too! But, you’ll break my bird feeder if you hang on it the way you do! So, can we come to an agreement? JUST the stuff on the ground? Okay? I think I saw him nod. That’s a true story.
The next day, the bird feeder is empty and I go to fill it up. There’s a piece of green plastic on the ground, “What’s this??” I think. It’s one of the pegs that goes in a hole in front of a food opening on my bird feeder!! That squirrel must NOT have nodded. Or maybe he was just trying to appease me….UGH!! He’s broken my super cheap bird feeder! (It just went back into the hole, it was fine. I was just being overly-dramatic…something that I never do…NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!)
So, I move the feeder for the 3rd time. Over by the fence, no trees around, far enough away from the fence that I don’t think he could successfully jump.
This morning…when I went to check on my feeder, which has now turned into a love/hate obsession, I see about 20 birds all around it. One perched on each peg on the feeder, some in my rose bush, some on the fence, some in the stupid crab apple tree, all waiting their turns at a chance at some bird seed that is basically all sunflower seed shells. It was awesome! They’re chirping and I can tell they’re all so happy! The ones on the pegs are throwing some down to the ones on the ground, such kindness and cooperation, it was lovely bird synergy.
Also on the ground were three enormous squirrels.
I know the squirrel, the one I had words with, went back to his squirrel friends and was like, “You guys, you gotta come to this one place I found, the food isn’t great, but there’s a human there that talks to me. It’s hilarious. I can tell she’s nice, but is just really inexperienced with the whole feeding of the birds thing and how us squirrels are gonna just take what we can get…she’s pretty though, you should come check her out.” And the other 2 squirrels are like, “Okay.” Because what else do they have to do?
I’ve heard some sad stories about people taking their issues with the squirrels to a whole other level…and I won’t ever come to that. I don’t mind feeding them too, you know, equal opportunity, but I really feel that with some time, some consistent discipline and non-enjoyable consequences (Sam), they might learn to just eat from the ground. I really do. I really, really do.
Squirrels, Birds and silly Humans, the battle forges on…
Heart you, you too sexually ambiguous squirrel with a weight issue,
*When Chick E was reading the draft of this article out loud to me in my car on the way to our “business dinner” the other night, she read, “It’s on a rod* iron post thing…” She said, “What’s “rod iron”, I said, “You know, that black metal that is really hard” and she said, “You mean, ‘wrought’ iron??” And I said, “Huh?” And she said, “It’s not ‘rod’ iron, it’s ‘wrought’ iron…” She even Googled it to prove her point. I was flabbergasted with this almost 38 year old misconception that I’ve had.
Thus, proving the old adage, “You learn something new every day.”