This Means War
by Valerie Nusbaum
I heard a shriek followed by maniacal laughter, and I knew what it meant. The squirrel was back.
Poor Randy has been fighting a losing battle with a very clever squirrel over a bird feeder filled with seed. The bird feeder was a birthday gift from my brother, and I confess that it sat in the box in the basement for nearly two years before I remembered to get it out and fill it. Well, Randy filled it, to be exact, and he hung it on the oak tree outside the kitchen window so that I could watch the birds while I do the dishes and cook his meals. My man is nothing if not thoughtful.
The only problem is that the birds never showed up. The bird feeder is made of clear acrylic in the shape of a tiny house, with a small slot and ledge for feeding. The birds either couldn’t find it or couldn’t figure out how to use it. The squirrel, however, had no problem finding it and emptying it multiple times.
“I’ll fix his wagon,” said Randy. He headed outside with some chicken wire, which he proceeded to drape around the plastic birdhouse. Still no birds. But we looked out the window, and the squirrel had invited a friend. One of them was reaching into the feeder while hanging onto the wire with one little paw, and he was tossing the birdseed to the other squirrel on the ground. Teamwork.
For a while, Randy refused to put any more birdseed in the feeder. Then he had another bright idea. I heard hammering and sawing and, of course, cursing, and then that weird laughter.
“This will drive him crazy,” Randy hissed. “I’d like to see him get to the birdseed now.”
My brilliant hubby had attached a wooden board to the top of a smooth four-foot pipe and then he’d attached the bird feeder to the board. Mind you, we still had no birds visiting the tiny birdhouse. The squirrel and his friend, however, spent several days sitting on the ground staring up at the pole and contraption. We know now that they were analyzing the situation and forming a plan of attack.
I got home from visiting my mom and walked into the kitchen, and as I put some things on the counter, I happened to glance out the window over the sink. There, big as life, was the squirrel. He was sitting proudly on top of the board at the top of the pole. He seemed to be looking in the window at me, and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that he was raising a finger on one tiny paw. I shouldn’t have, but I called to Randy and had him look outside. “@#&*!!!##,” he muttered. “Chicken wire. Need. More. Wire.”
Now, I’m going to stop right here and defend Randy’s (and my) position. We aren’t being intentionally mean to the squirrels. I don’t want PETA or some animal rights activist giving me grief. The squirrels have their own food. We have two huge pin oak trees in our backyard, with enough acorns to feed a small army of little rodents. Heck, sometimes we even gather up piles of the nuts and set them out for the squirrels to find. We do their gathering for them, and they reward us by burying the darned things in my flower beds and washtubs so that I have to spend hours pulling out tiny oak trees every spring.
So….chicken wire was draped over and around the little birdhouse with an opening in the front for the non-existent birds to grab some food. And then, this morning, I heard it again.
“Look out your bathroom window,” Randy yelled up the stairs. I did look out, and there he was again, reaching down through the wire and helping himself to a handful of birdseed. He looked up, smiled, and saluted as Randy opened the kitchen window and cursed at him. I watched Stanley (that’s what I call the squirrel) wrap his arms around the pole and slide down it, fireman-style. I’m not making this up. I still don’t know how he got up there, but the squirrel scampered off to plot another raid on the bird feeder. Randy stalked down to the basement to figure out his next move. It’s been a long pandemic, folks. We all get our entertainment where we can, right?
Speaking of entertainment, I have to give special shout-outs to Michele Tester and Barb Barbe. Michele sent me a lovely email telling me several stories about the benefits of reaching out and writing notes. There was an especially touching story about Michele’s dad. Barb sent us such a nice card and even included a stamp for us to pay it forward. We will do that. Thank you both for your thoughtfulness and for taking the time to write. Even Randy has gotten in on the act and is sending tiny Valentine cards to neighbors and passing them out to the workers at the drive-thru windows. He’s getting some weird looks, but he’s used to that.
I’ll keep you posted on who wins the Battle of the Bird Feeder, but I think we all know how that’s going to go.
The least the darned squirrel could do is write a thank you note.