Pretty much each day we throw out food scraps in the preparation of our meals. These then go out into the meadow where deer, squirrels, chipmunks and a sundry of other animals gather to feast on these items of interest. It is what I call the “Starving Time” for the deer where little remains of the forest vegetation, that is for them to eat at this time of the winter. So, leaving scraps for them is important. My thoughts go back to the time I was cross-country skiing in a state park near New Ulm, Minnesota. My memories still haunt me when seeing dying deer being hauled away from the park by state employees. Sadness filled my heart when seeing that nothing could be done for them at that time, and so now we do our part in helping the animals during this most difficult time of winter.
It is not unusual to have more than birds gathering at our window feeders each day, especially now when the forest pickings are rare. More times than I want to think about, squirrels are jumping from the woodpile, and then to the electric box, and from there to the tube bird feeder. I have written this before in previous posts about how their attempts are varied in leaping the distance to the feeder. Roughly half the time they make it, while the other attempts are not so successful. Even as I am writing now, Abby is in the background yelling, “The superhero is flying through the air once again!” Abby is bouncing up and down telling me how when the squirrel saw her, it leaped into the air and flew to the ground in a giant jump, leaving the tube feeder to bang against the window with a thump. I now have to remind Abby that others are still sleeping and that her excitement needs to be curbed, so that others can rest longer. She has given this particular squirrel the name, “Scrat” after the one in Ice Age the movie.
Lately, we have had red, black and grey squirrels making the jump to the feeder. Yesterday I was about to scare a grey squirrel from the tube feeder when another black squirrel came flying through the air knocking the grey head over heals in the other direction. The black not noticing me, started to feast on the seeds when all of a sudden it looked up staring intently at me, it expression was so funny, it seemed to be saying, “What are you looking at?” I then opened the window and it very reluctantly left its prize to join the other squirrels on the ground.
|While writing this post Scrat jumped to the feeder.|
I have tried this last week in dissuading the squirrels to leave the tube feeder alone by moving it twice, that is, further away from their launch point on the side of the house. This has yielded little results. These tenacious little fur balls have still made the leap to the feeder. In the beginning, they missed quite frequently, and it was amusing to see them summersault through the void, grasping at only air, but this did not deter them in the least. At one point, “Scrat” tried to climb the glass in the attempt of shimming to its left, all the while trying to get closer to the feeder. This too ended in failure as the sounds of claws screeching like fingers on a chalk board made their way into abyss below. It was quite amusing though watching this experiment in futility, claws flailing at the glass, and the desperate expression on the squirrel’s face, all the time seeing in it’s eyes, the fact that it was resigning itself to the under-region once more. In other attempts, we watched the squirrels try to climb the wood siding, scratching helplessly at the frozen smooth wooden boards. We would listen as the scratches would begin slowly, and then in a panic of flailing noises, we next would hear a thump, now knowing that it landed on the ground disappointed that it had another failure to its attempts.
|As we watched Scrat, the black squirrel here, leaped to feeder|
causing Scrat to go flying.
Yesterday, I thought of putting honey in the tray where the successful squirrels sat as they ravaged the bird feeder. I thought this would be a humane way of dissuading them from revisiting a site that had become very sticky to them all of a sudden. I imagined individual squirrels later asking their mates to extract the honey in places that only another squirrel could reach. This theory of mine only proved a failure as well. By the end of the day, the honey was completely gone, and I realized that they must really like this gooey substance. The only consolation is that they might be asking me for our cat’s hairball medication soon.
All in all, they are tenacious little creatures. Perhaps this though is well deserved rewards for their prize, (getting the bird feed) since they offer our family a great form of amusement. The birds on the other hand might look at this whole scenario in quite a different light. For myself, I imagine other forest animals watching through the trees, and seeing what is transpiring between the squirrels and myself as an amusing form of futility, on both our parts. Come to think of it, with us leaving the forest animals food, they might look at both the squirrels and myself as something wonderful, “Dinner and a Show!”