In a recent column by Chip Minemyer, “The Squirrels, a Water Gun, and Me,” he very cleverly identified not only the wildlife that he is attracting to his feeders, but also the challenges posed by the squirrels that constantly consume the fuel that currently it costs gasoline. bird seed that he is buying to feed that wildlife.
During the long COVID-19 blackout, and unfortunately for my heirs, my neighbors, and the charities I used to share my pensions with, I too began this journey.
Chip very eloquently described this squirrel challenge and then went into detail about how he was tackling what can only be described as a hopeless journey to inhibit his successful consumption of those expensive seeds.
One of our close friends saw the numerous feeders I had placed outside our living room windows and said, “Stop spoiling those birds. Let them work to find their dinner like the rest of us. Now, that’s a pragmatist.
Our cat spends her days sitting on the back of the sofa watching their antics and from time to time throwing herself against the window. It’s her way of showing them that they’re just a thin pane of glass away from becoming cat food. (She has never eaten a bird and she is afraid of them).
A friend interrupted his bird feeding when his wife saw rats, not squirrels, feeding in the middle of the seed houses. (Those city squirrels don’t know when to hold them or when to bend them.) There aren’t many things nastier than an arrogant city rat.
Another friend had to hire a trapper (live traps) to help her keep raccoons away from her birdseed and suet. That trip to raccoon hunting is costing him almost as much as her seed, and there’s no guarantee that they or her closest relatives will want to return.
Finally, a doctor friend of mine had to remove the feeders because every night a mother bear and her little cubs would attack her yard and knock over the feeders. Once they had a belly full of that delicious bird seed, like all good bears, they went right back into the trash cans.
Many of my college years were spent at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. On the campus of this school there is a beautiful park-like setting called Oak Grove. That grove was full of oak trees and dozens of cute gray squirrels. Those squirrels became the center of an obsession for my father.
When he visited them, he loved to sit on the benches under those huge oak trees. We would talk about school. He usually ended our visit by handing me a $5 bill, and life was good.
I could tell he loved the fun of seeing the little gray vermin running up and down the trees, playing, eating, and being, well, like a squirrel, as well.
In fact, he fell so in love with their antics that he decided our little town deserved a similar vibe. That’s when he set out to fill our town with gray squirrels.
While visiting my brother, he noticed that the owner’s property was also populated by gray squirrels. So he made a deal with him. Every time a squirrel was caught in a live trap, my dad would drive the 55 minutes to Jeannette to pick it up and bring it back to our yard. Within three months we had gray squirrels everywhere and their dreams came true. Before long, our little town resembled Oak Grove in Indiana.
However, when hunting season arrived, everything changed. Instead of squirt guns, our neighbors started turning these little creatures of God into squirrel skewers.
To finish, I suggest approaching this adventure as a casting for a Disney movie. We have chipmunks, bunnies, squirrels and all kinds of birds that frequent our smorgasbord. Oh, and we found really cheap generic bird seed. (Just not under the rat food section.)
Nick Jacobs of Windber is a healthcare consultant and author of the book “Taking the Hell Out of Healthcare.”