Pharos-Tribune

Columns

January 30, 2014

ABBOTT: Get out of my yard, you crazy squirrels

I don’t need to watch the Olympics or the Super Bowl or even “The Bachelor.” Every day out my office window I see my own version of “Wild Kingdom,” complete with fun-packed action, suspense and hilarity.

I’m a birdwatcher and I have a large, squirrel-proof feeder, suspended from a 4-foot shepherd’s crook attached to my deck railing with a steel C-arm. I’ve covered the metal pole of the shepherd’s crook with aluminum foil, in theory, to detract the giant paws.

To those giant gray/brown rats that inhabit our back yard, it might as well be paper-mache.

These rodents sashay along the deck rail, stop and look at me in my office, sneer, and then nonchalantly climb up the pole, over the aluminum foil, stop and sneer some more. Then they do a back flip and hang upside down from the pole, now able to reach out and stick their mouths in the numerous holes full of delicious bird feed. All while sneering at me.

The Pet Food Center had some luscious bird food, stuffed with peanuts and sunflowers seeds, which the squirrels really adore.

Their ultimate departure — with their rounded filled bellies — reminds me of famous Russian gymnast Olga Korbut tuck back, flip, and dismounting from the parallel bars in the 1972 Olympics.

The squirrels look at me, sneer, and throw out their front pawing, successfully jumping back to the deck railing. They act as if they deserve a gold medal for their performance.

The suspense in this drama comes when I worry that the feeder itself will drop off the pole with the force of the squirrel jumping forward, and fall the ground below. Our deck is above a walk-out basement/ A fall of ten feet will shatter the bird feeder. (I know this by experience. I’ve punched most of the cards on my “Frequent Bird Feeder Purchase Plan.”)

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