Several months ago, our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter bought us a bird feeder. It’s quite unique. It is a solid, plastic plate-like base on which stands a column of bird seed. (They chose a bird-seed column shaped like an owl!) Over the top, shielding the entire feeder from rain and unwanted four-legged visitors, is a clear plastic dome. The entire device hangs from a pole embedded in an open area, away from trees or other small animal hideouts.
They placed it beside our front sidewalk, outside a window where I can watch the bird banquet every day. It took the birds a while to find it. A brilliant red cardinal was the first feathered friend to try it out. He must have passed the word around the bird world because soon he was joined by a dove or two, some sparrows, an occasional woodpecker, and other species we cannot yet identify. It’s a delight to watch several birds of different types peacefully eating together.
But trouble was on its way. I began to notice a squirrel, who normally lives in the trees behind our house, wandering around under the bird feeder picking up the food that had fallen to the ground. He was gray with a snow white belly and a very long bushy tail that was constantly in motion, and he was FAT.
Apparently he became dissatisfied with eating leftovers and decided he was entitled to eat at the first table. So this sneaky, selfish four-legged thief began to climb up the near-by shrubs looking for a way to get to the bird feeder itself! And he found it!
It took several unsuccessful tries, and bone-jarring falls, until he found just the right branch of the near-by shrub to leap from. At first leap, he only caught the edge of the bird feeder with his front paws with his hindquarters and tail swinging wildly to and fro below the banquet table! Great was the fall of that would-be thief!
Obviously encouraged by his near-success, he tried again - and reached his goal in a stable position on his back legs! He wasted no time in wrapping his left front paw around the neck of the birdseed owl and grabbing huge handfuls of food with his right front paw, stuffing them into his mouth and reaching for another! Finally, when his mouth could hold no more stolen food, he dropped down to the ground to digest his haul. Later that afternoon, Bruce cut off the branch of the shrub the squirrel had used as a launching pad!
But the very next morning he was back to his thieving ways. As I watched I saw that he had discovered an alternative launching branch. There he was, up in the bird feeder again, almost too fat to fit, greedily stuffing his face with stolen bird food. That afternoon, the bird feeder was moved to a new location farther away from the shrubs!
Next morning, I watched as that persistent four-legged robber learned how to climb up the support post directly into the bird feeder from below! Later that morning Bruce made a special trip to the Wild Birds Unlimited store and returned home with a squirrel-stopper device to attach around the post of the oft-robbed bird banquet site!
This morning I almost felt sorry for that persistently selfish squirrel! That gluttonous, overfed beast had managed somehow to jump or climb to the top of the feeder he had so often robbed. But he was on the outside of the transparent dome over the birdseed and could not reach it! All he could do was look and long for another taste!
Now, if there is a moral to this story, I don’t know what it is. As I sit inside the window limited by my breathing limitations, I have learned a lesson from the antics of this selfish squirrel: No matter how hard you try, how frequently you return to the task, or how creatively you approach the job, there are certain things in life you can’t have!
20 July 2019 - mshr