Friday, June 12, 2015

OK squirrels, this is war!

Who knew that this quiet, unassuming, peaceful place I call home--the place that brings solitude, comfort, and harmony to my soul--would be the scene of an all-out battle?

I hate the idea of having to consider violence, and that is definitely a last resort, but I am about at my wit's end.

backyard sans bird feeder
There used to be a bird feeder hanging from that cord.

This morning, while I was reveling in my breakfast of farm fresh eggs with a side of fresh-picked raspberries and blueberries, I heard a familiar crash. It was one I've heard before; I've heard it way too many times before.

I knew the growing number of resident squirrels have again knocked down the bird feeder. I went out, hopeful that it wasn't time for another trip to Walmart to pick up another one--again!

broken bird feeder picJust a few minutes before, I chased a squirrel away. He was inside the feeder, eating his fill of sunflower seeds not meant for him.

The dangling cord had been attached to the bottom of the feeder. One of the pesky critters  either broke it or bit it in half. Either way, the result, as evidenced by the picture, the fall broke the feeder. It will still hold seed if I can figure out a new way to attach the bottom to its top, still dangling from the eaves just outside our enclosed back porch.

I love sitting on the couch in that porch, watching the birds. There are always plenty of goldfinches, chickadees, titmouse, house finches, cardinals, and even a blue jay or two. There is a suet feeder also, which attracts some nuthatches and lots of woodpeckers. I watched lots of baby birds this spring travel from the branch to the feeder (as described here) and fill the entire backyard with song. It is a delight that I am not willing to part with, no matter what I have to do.

squirrel feederFor the decade we have lived in this house, we have had bird feeders outside this window. Never before have squirrels been as intrusive and as numerous as they have this year.

I thought I had the problem solved when I bought this new plastic feeder. It hangs just below a squirrel baffle, designed to protect it from squirrels--I am laughing at that idea!

I was just sick when they destroyed my last feeder. It was really pretty.

squirrel invaderShown left, this cockeyed, twisted thing is all that is left of what had been a beautiful feeder. It was costly by my standards too. The ornate metal encompassed a glass cylinder which held the seed. It offered ample protection until the damned furry rodents rode it like a merry-go-round, spinning it around so fast that it completely unscrewed itself from the top piece that holds it altogether causing the fall. I had hoped the beasts rode it all the way down and got a jolt when it hit the ground. Shards of glass were everywhere, but I detected no blood. The feeder was the only casualty.

They used to come at it from the big oak tree, some seven feet away. They leaped; no flew at the feeder. More often than not, they missed and fell to the ground. Because of the slope of the property, this is like a second story window. They never seemed to hurt themselves though, so they kept it up until they found a better way. Their agility is matched only by their perseverance.

I do enjoy watching how they do it, until they become bullies about it. I despise bullying. They would make their way up the tree, onto the roof, and then jump to the teeny-tiny ledge just outside the window. Then it was just a small leap up to the feeder. They'd grab onto the metal sides and eat themselves silly.

Finally, I decided to string beer cans along the sill, so when they jumped onto them, they rolled off. That worked for a while. I actually thought I had them. Then they figured out that if they flattened the cans, they wouldn't roll anymore. In essence, they had their ledge back, and it was that much closer to their destination. It was just after that escapade that the bird feeder finally crashed to the ground.

I dutifully went out with my dust pan and whisk broom to clean up their mess.

I also have a hummingbird feeder hanging to the right of this setup. I can't count how many times I have picked that up off the ground when the monsters knocked it off its hook on their way to the bird seed. So far, I have been able to find all the little ribber flowers that protect the holes from bees and ants. There is always one or two missing that I have to search for.

I used to have a nice little setup in the front yard for feeding the birds until the monsters destroyed it.

Birds never got a chance to eat at the feeder on the left. The squirrel bullies didn't let them. The feeder on the right--the red one--is supposed to be squirrel proof. No such thing. That is broken now too, although that may have been the nighttime marauders responsible for that. Perhaps I can still fix it. It remains empty.

little squirrel feastsI've moved what is now the main feeder, the one on the left, to the front porch. It hangs from an overhang, so it is difficult for the beasts to reach it and it is too high for them to jump onto from the porch. I can't say they haven't tried. In doing so, they have broken numerous pretty flower pots I've collected. In the process, they have also eaten the tops off geraniums and petunias, and generally made a mess of my flowers.

Look at the arrogance and determination on that squirrel face. I think he is mad at missing out on his free meals. TOO BAD!

If I didn't hate him so much, I would admit how cute he really is. For now, I refuse to do that. After all, this is war!