Currently viewing the tag: "bird feeder"

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.

by Christine Maccabee


To say that spring is my favorite time of year is putting it mildly. I love spring and can barely keep myself indoors on a beautiful day like today. Every morning, the birds create a symphony of music, too incredible for words. Then, as early evening approaches, the frogs and toads begin tuning up for their cascade of mating sounds, which to my ears is music—profound music of the spheres and an expression of our earth’s on-going mind-blowing beauty.

Several years ago, I began recording bird songs, notating them on staff paper. Luckily, I have a good ear and lots of training in timings and keys, as bird songs can be very complex; each bird, usually the male, has a repertoire unique to itself and the occasion of calling for a mate or declaration of territory. However, I am of the opinion—and am quite sure it is true—that sometimes birds simply sing on and on just for the joy of it!

To say that I live for spring is true for me, and likely many others. No longer do we have to pull on heavy boots, layers of clothes, hats, and gloves. Devoted mothers no longer have to make sure their children are dressed for twenty-degree weather as they wait for the bus. And the elderly, who sometimes struggle just to get dressed, are freed up as well. Things are lightening up, you might say.

Yes, keeping me inside today will be next to impossible, so I will take a break from typing and go out to plant onions. I must have my store of onions for the winter. See you soon…

Well, I am back, but I only got so far as hanging out the laundry; no onions planted yet. I have so many thoughts, so many feelings today because of spring; I am not certain which song to sing first. I am like the mockingbird with his repertoire of untold numbers of songs, twittering about today. Maybe I have spring fever. It has been known to happen.

As I chased the cat away from the bird feeder, while hanging clothes, I thought of my good friend Walter. Whenever I would ask him if he knew what sort of bird was singing, he always would reply, “Oh, that’s a Tweety Bird!” Funny. Guess that’s me today, twittering away about everything, and nothing.

Now it’s time to get serious, right? Or maybe not. After days and days of stress and worry, we all need time off to go take that long walk or simply plant petunias. I could go on and on about the wild edibles you can put in your salads (violet and dandelion flower petals are so rich in vitamins and minerals). I could instruct you as to how to build a cold frame, so as to eat salad greens all winter, or inspire you to be a seed saver. Or I could tell you the secrets of planting onions properly (I once had a caretaker here who insisted that he knew how to plant onion sets; he told me to leave him alone, and that year, we had no onions because he planted the bulbs upside down!).

However, I need this downtime today to simply enjoy the beauty of this incredible springtime; time to renew my spirit after some rough times. Every day, there are things to deal with: some simple problems and some seemingly insurmountable. But, somehow, we surmount them. I just finished reading a book called Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, and I now have a new heroine, who surmounted far more problems than I ever had. After far too many years of horrible abuse by her husband and devotedly raising eleven children, in 1955, at the age of sixty-seven, she completely turned her back on it all. Setting out in Georgia with a 15-pound sack of essentials, thrown over her shoulder, and wearing tennis shoes, she hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. She even did it two more times and became renowned for trailblazing in Ohio.

I figure if Emma Gatewood could do that, I can deal with my little problems. Think I will just plant those onions and then go take a nice long walk!