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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
Mike can be contacted via e-mail at mike@mikeredmondonline.com.

 

 

 

 Squirrels Have Lock on Bird Feeders

When we were kids, my brother and sister and I had a pet squirrel named Filbert. Well, pet is a bit of an overstatement. He lived in the tree behind our house and came to the back door to get the nuts we left for him.

While he may not have been a pet, it was my first positive interaction with a squirrel. It was also my last positive interaction with a squirrel.

(I’m not counting squirrel hunting, which I used to do a lot of. Although it might have been a positive interaction for me – I love fried squirrel – I am pretty sure the squirrels did not see it that way.)

Anyway, I haven’t buddied up to Sciurus niger since Filbert, and this year is no exception. Once again, I find myself at odds with the neighborhood squirrels over a long standing dispute over who REALLY owns the bird feeder.

First, you should understand that this is strictly between me and the squirrels. The birds have long since been cut out of the deal.

Second, you should understand that anyone who says he has a squirrel-proof bird feeder is a lying sack of sunflower seeds. The squirrel-proof bird feeder is a fraud, like El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth or, to use a more recent example, that May 21 Rapture.

In fact, the last one double qualifies because it was not only a fraud, but the people who fell for it all seemed a bit squirrelly.

But back to the feeder. Over the years I have bought every squirrel-proof bird feeder on the market, and over the years the squirrels have gotten fat at my expense.

Out of necessity, I have even taken to “improving” the feeders. For example, I bought a feeder that had a locking door on the top of the bin and a feeder bar that would close the trough if touched by anything heavier than a chickadee. It took one day for the squirrels to figure out how to get seed without touching the bar, two to open the top.

I wrapped the lid down tight with not one, not two, but three bungee cords. Two days later the squirrels were bungee jumping off the top of the garage.

Now, what happened next may or may not be true. It’s quite possible I was hallucinating at the time. Frustration will do that to you.

I bought six feet of stainless steel chain, wrapped it around the bird feeder and secured it with a combination padlock. Three hours later I went out on the deck with a cup of tea and saw a squirrel twirling the knob with a look of intense concentration on his face and a tiny stethoscope in his ears.

Hallucination or not, that’s when I decided to just give up. The squirrels weren’t too happy about it but they haven’t lost any weight, so I don’t think they’re suffering.

Which, in a way, gets me back to Filbert. Oh, he didn’t suffer. But when Dad got cute and tried to hand feed him, Filbert bit him right on the index finger. He had to get stitches and a shot. He suffered. It was anything but a positive interaction.

And I think that’s why he never said no when I asked to go squirrel hunting.

 

 

 

© 2011 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.