TRIBUTE TO THE DETERMINED SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Tribute

When I went to buy my bird feeders, some feeders were listed as “squirrel-proof.”

After I read the reviews, it proved what I pretty much knew: No feeder is squirrel-proof. What the feeder I bought said was that though squirrels would get to it, the feeder was sturdy enough to still be a feeder after the squirrel finished eating.

Squirrels really eat. They get up on the feeder, usually the flat feeder. It’s easier for them being nothing but a large, flat hanging piece of wood with a screen on the bottom.  Today, though, it was full of frozen sleet and I don’t think any of the critters could get into it. I was up early because I had to call UMass Hospital and that’s always a lot more effort than it ought to be.

I called once and clearly whoever I was talking to didn’t know anything, so … I called again. After which, I called my current cardiologist. I got the piece of paper my cardiologist sent. But it was a release to give the hospital access to all the material they already had.

I called back and I said, “How am I supposed to fill this form out, especially because I already transferred all my medical information to you folks more than two years ago?”

I finally got transferred to the administrator of the cardiologist group and it all got straightened out in about two minutes. All I needed was to talk to someone who actually knew what was going on.

She told me not to worry, that the cardiologists all had access to pacemaker checking equipment and it wasn’t in a separate lab (as had been true both at Beth Israel and with my previous cardiologist), but was in the doctor’s office. I could decide if I to do my regular pacemaker checkups in person or via telephone.

Telephone? You can do it by REGULAR and not a special smartphone. Just a regular telephone connected on WiFi.

I knew it was possible, but I figured it required some special equipment I didn’t have — or at least, an application I would need to install. But apparently, any telephone will do the job. Isn’t that amazing?

And when she finished explaining this — which really made me feel a whole lot better — she gave me HER DIRECT TELEPHONE NUMBER.

I said: “I’ve had the hardest time trying to get in touch with people at UMass.”

“We have far too many phone numbers,” she agreed. “But this one will get you directly to me. I work 6am to 1pm, so if you call in the afternoon, leave a message and I promise to get right back to you!”

Music to my ears. Truly, after the fiasco with AT&T (they actually sent me ” come back, we have deals!” last night proving they really don’t get it at all), to have someone give me a number I can call so I can talk to someone who  knows what’s going on and can give me an answer.


Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Please choose your favorite Deo or whichever individual, creation, or thing to whom (or which) you joyfully offer heartfelt gratitude. In my life, this varies dramatically depending on everything.


Anyway, that’s why I was up early and that’s how, having finished talking to the Cardiology Administrator (bless you, my dear) I wandered into the kitchen. I had brewed coffee and toasted an English muffin — and the window to the porch was easily visible from the kitchen and dining room.

There, wrapped around the hanging feeder, was a hungry squirrel. Eating. Not easily because getting seeds through the screen works better with a beak than a jaw … but he was doing it.

The squirrel looked at me. I looked at the squirrel. He went back to eating black sunflower seeds which all the larger birds from woodpeckers to doves love — and that includes squirrels.

I picked up my camera and took pictures and he moved around to make sure I had photographed his “good” side. I’m not sure he has a bad side. He hung in every possible position from which a big squirrel can hang from a feeder. He did, I noticed, have a nasty gash in the back of his neck, as if a hawk had tried to grab him. It was scabbed over, but it must have really hurt. I was glad he got a meal at my deck today.

Eventually, I got pictures from every angle and I wanted coffee. The toaster had popped. I wanted my muffin while it was hot.

So this is a tribute, a paeon to the determination of our creatures of the woods. Despite our destruction of so much of their habitat, they find a way to survive. Some of us put out some food for them because we think it’s the least we owe them. We can’t save it all, but at least we can make sure they get the occasional decent meal.

Here’s to the determination of squirrels who can always find a way to get a meal out of any bird feeder. Here’s to squirrels who escape from the hawk and to hawks who hunt the squirrels. Because that’s the way it works in the wild.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

21 thoughts on “TRIBUTE TO THE DETERMINED SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Hats off to you Marilyn, that’s the healthiest looking squirrel I’ve ever seen. Just look at the rich fur coat and bushy tail!

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  2. Your story about the administrator (bless her) brought tears to my eyes, because I know exactly how frustrating that sort of abysmal bureaucracy can be … and then I got sad that such a simple act of human decency got me teary … and then I got mad that there are so few acts of human decency in a bureaucracy … and then I realised there are probably lots of acts of human decency in a bureaucracy but they’re scattered among too few people to whom acts of human decency are what drives their Spirit.

    Bravo, little Squirrel! May your progeny praise your tenacity for fourteen generations! 😀

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  3. Telemedicine is the new great thing. Not for anything major, but it beats waiting for hours to see a doc for something minor. That squirrel knew you were there, Marilyn–he posed just for you. Such great photos.

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    1. He looked me in the eyes and I guess I didn’t look threatening. The little birds are funny. Some of them try to stare me down — the Goldfinches, for example. And the juncos and nuthatches. Most of the rest get startled pretty easily.

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  4. I don’t know if I am more amazed that you can have your pacemaker checked via the telephone or that you actually got to have a productive conversation with someone on it. All that and a squirrel too. I think they are such cute little creatures and they are very determined eaters from what other squirrel feeders write about them.

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  5. I experienced the same thing when I searched for a squirrel proved feeder in the UK. It does NOT exist. Amen….
    I‘m amazed at your medical news, via telephone?! What? That is something…. And a direct number? There is a God!!! Good on you.
    And then you had the time to take photos of your squirrel-model – while waiting for your medical history to unfold!!! You are Wonder Woman. Your breakfast was very highly merrited 😉

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  6. According to a book I once read (and even reviewed very early in my blog’s history), the squirrel population in America is about a tenth of what it used to be 200 years ago. Think of how many squirrels there are now, and imagine ten times that many running around! I’m pretty sure I would run out of food. But they carry on despite our seeming determination to be rid of them…

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    1. I think this one got grabbed by a hawk, but it could have as easily been the bobcat or a coyote. It’s brutal out there. We still HAVE squirrels, but they don’t come down to the ground very often. They stay high up in the branches. It’s the safest place they can find … and there’s food up there, too.

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