Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Life With Scrat the Squirrel

This morning's sunrise.
This past week has been interesting to say the least.  Competition for bird food has increased exponentially over the last couple of weeks.  The end of the winter is soon arriving, but the animals are struggling to find plentiful food sources with the added snow cover blanketing the ground.  It is not uncommon to find deer, squirrels and rabbits scurrying about below the bird feeders trying to scavenge the fallen sunflower seeds as of late.  Just last night before going to bed, I noticed a shadow below the window, and after retrieving a flashlight, in what seemed like a scary image in the dark had turned into a possum.  He didn’t seem to mind the light, but later when standing in front of my in-laws glass door, he chose not to move for my wife and daughter.  Only spits and hisses came from his mouth when Anne and Abby tried to exit to the outdoors.  About the same time, my daughter Abby was trying out her vocal cords at high C, with shrieks that I am afraid might have awakened the dead in the nearby cemetery.  Instead of scaring the possum away with Abby’s screams, the furry rat like creature took upon itself to try and out hiss Abby.  After the cacophony of screams and hisses relented, calling it a draw, it concluded with a minute of ritualistic stare downs, of which the possum later decided to give up and saunter on toward more hospitable quarters. 
What can I say, Scrat!

Our squirrels on the other hand are pretty much tame in their mannerisms, and in most cases amusing, that is, much of the time.  Abby and I were talking in the living room early in the morning on Thursday before anyone was awake, when all of a sudden; a blur went past the window.  We both looked at each other and started to laugh; Abby and I both realized that it was another failed attempt by Scrat to hit the tube bird feeder.  It had shot low and propelled itself underneath the feeder at light speed.  Abby then responded, “Super Squirrel flies again!”  We both laughed for sometime after that episode. 

Scrat with Abby's fingerprints on the glass.
Later that morning I noticed that Scrat was back at the feeder.  This time he was empting it at a record speed.  That concerned me since the birds were not getting access to needed food for this time of year.  The cardinals are now mating and will soon be starting nests with new families, and they need the extra fat and nutrients found in the sunflower seeds.  I asked Abby if she would be dutiful and scare Scrat away for me.  She readily responded with enthusiasm running up to the window, waving her arms and laughing as she tapped the glass.  This scared Scrat away for the first two times, but after that, it would take opening the window to make it jump off the feeder.  Scrat was not to be deterred; he started to ignore Abby even when she cranked the window open all the way.  At that point, I was getting concerned that Abby’s close proximity to Scrat was placing her in danger of being bitten.  I then quietly asked her to step back while I slowly cranked the window open until it hit the feeder.  That finally made Scrat jump down, all be it reluctantly. 

Anne spotted a visitor to our meadow today, a Pileated Woodpecker.
I knew that it would be a bigger problem if I did not do something about it soon.  I then asked Abby to not worry about the squirrels on the feeder.  “I will take care of it Sweetheart, you can go play now.”  “Ok daddy!”  Off she went to play with her dolls while I brainstormed what I was going to do next.  After many minutes of deep thought, I came up with what I thought was a good plan; I was going to discourage Scrat once and for all.  I next went to the refrigerator to get some of Anne’s lemon juice.  I couldn't find the juice, but I found the next best thing, lime juice.  I continued with my plan by sprinkling the juice on the cupped base of the tube feeder where Scrat sat while gorging on the seeds.  I thought this would make for a bitter licking on its furry bottom when Scrat groomed itself later.  The thought went through my mind that Scrat would be easy to spot in the near future, that is when seeing a squirrel running around with its thin lips curled around its teeth, and looking much like a person without dentures.  Thinking of this scene made me laugh.  What then transpired was very unexpected.  Scrat came up to the feeder right after sprinkling on the juice, and quickly sat down, all the while taking plentiful amounts of sunflower seeds.  I retrospect, I imagine he thought that I had put honey down on the feeder like I had done last week.   Scrat having deep respect and I soon discovered, a likeness for the sweet substance, I could only imagine he thought I was giving him dessert with his meal. 

(Swinging on by.)  Well, not quite a flying squirrel, but close!
Next what transpired was quite unexpected.  As Scrat sat there, a strange look came over his face, one filled with surprise and consternation.  In his obvious look of bewilderment and confusion, he jumped into the air, and hopped down off the feeder. Upon reaching the ground, he started to drag his posterior aggressively across the snow at light speed.  Upon reaching the silver maple, he climbed the tall tree with quick dispatch.  When arriving at the very top, he put his lower extremities into the wind, all the while twitching his tail vigorously back and forth as to air out a problem of unknown origin.  One that was obviously vexing him to no end.  The whole episode took less than a minute, but I could see that my experiment had gone the extremely wrong.  This was only confirmed when Anne, upon stepping in from the garage asked, “What is going on?”  She could see Abby and myself looking out the window, staring up at some unknown location.  I explained to her what had just transpired, and along with my intent in trying to solve the problem of the pilfered bird feed.  I could see that Anne wanted to be understanding; but she was of course right in being concerned for the poor little squirrel at the moment.  To my relief, Scrat was back at the feeder the next day without any long-term posterior issues.