Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Squirrels 10, Humans 0

This is not my bird-feeder, not my squirrel, but the photo shows exactly what happened.


My inexpensive bird squirrel-feeder was all fixed up to defeat the wily foe, and it worked for one day, as I suspected.

Once the lower branch was pruned away, the squirrel could only jump on top and twitch his tail. He saw me watching through the window. I was outwardly gloating but inwardly confident about his greed and acrobatic ability.

This morning he dangled from above, hanging on with hind legs and leisurely scooping black oil sunflower seeds into his mouth, his delicate paws reaching into the tiny aperture of the feeder. Two ears of corn were not enough for him and his kin. One was fresh on the backyard feeder yesterday, the other still new on the window near my computer.

The bird food industry does well with squirrels. They sell us squirrel feeders to keep tree-rats away from the bird food. The industry sells corn for more than the price of gold, per ounce. Any ear of field corn is good for a bag of squirrel food, and yet a bag costs $6 because it has a logo on the plastic bag.

The squirrels consume their corn and stop at the bird feeders for more. That is a win/win situation for the bird food industry and the squirrels. Fortunately, the birds get to enjoy a fair amount of food anyway.

The squirrel had a great time with the window sill food, supplemented by an upturned bucket with seed on top. I thought it would make a good birdbath for all the creatures. Sassy and I make the rounds each day, and water costs a lot less than sunflower seeds.

The birds will shy away from the water for a week or two. Eventually they will make it a regular stop. Then we can look down and watch them bathe.

The cardinals are quite used to us already. I cannot decide whether the males are more splendid or the females more attractive. When viewed from two feet away, both are spectacular in the sun. Since they can sit at the feeder and open seeds with their powerful beaks, they tend to stay while looking around.

Recently I found a chickadee doing the same thing. He decided to hammer his seed open on the bird-feeder bar (which still prevents squirrels from getting at seed). That worked, so he stayed around for more.

I looked at a finch thistle-seed sock. Only $5. They love sunflower seeds, but people buy thistle because a finch feeder will be clustered with finches, gold and purple. It is their crack cocaine. Bird watchers do that to enjoy the change-over of feathers in the spring, from undistinguished to gold. A thistle-seed sock in my window is going to last as long as a Lutheran at Mequon. The squirrels eat a hole in the bottom, leak out the seed, and no one will touch it.

This photo only begins to show how beautiful a female cardinal is.
The best view is watching a female in the bright sunlight from a few feet way.
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