THE DAILY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

The squirrels and I are quarreling. I am a believer that the hungry should be allowed to eat and I quite like our squirrels. I can actually recognize them, usually by the size and coloration of their tails.

The problem is, there seem to be a great many of them and we seem to be the only open buffet in the region … or maybe we just serve a better quality of seeds.

Every morning, when I first get up I open the shades and look at the feeders. There are always two squirrels wrapped around the hanging feeder and nestled happily inside the flat feeder. I leave them be. They are free to chow down until I get up for the day … about 4 or 5 hours later.

A crowd of cowbirds
More Cowbirds!
Very handsome Cowbird!

But that’s it. After 11 in the morning, when I’m having my coffee, I open my back door and tell them it’s time to get off the feeder and find food in the forest. They don’t even move. Apparently, I am no longer a threatening presence. Finally, after I talk to them for a while and they refuse to move, I open the door and walk towards the feeders and then they slowly detach and climb down the railing to the deck.

Goldfinch in the rain
Rain does not bother him
There were other Goldfinches on the other side of the feeder too

I can see them lurking just below the fence, so I go out again, look them in the eye and say: “I SEE you. You’ve had your time in the feeders. Now you have to let the birds eat too.”

I go back to the house and they are back on the feeders. I repeat the performance, only this time, I stand on the deck. Each time they peak over the edge of the deck I tell them: “I said it was time to go. Now, beat it buster.”

Sharing the feeder – Lady Cardinal and Downy Woodpecker

Each time one of them leaves, a dozen birds hit the feeder because they’ve been waiting in the trees. They aren’t afraid of me anymore. They seem to know I’m talking to the squirrels.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

How they know this, I have no idea, but they don’t skedaddle. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to go and physically remove the squirrels one of these mornings. I really don’t mind them eating, but they can’t eat all the food I put out and that’s what they are doing. I can’t afford twenty pounds of seeds a week.

Carolina Wren

It’s like when you go for breakfast with a friend and you get to chatting. No one minds because it’s early, but as lunchtime rolls around, the waiters start giving you the eye. There are no more refills for your coffee.

He’s back!

I don’t think my squirrels have been eating out recently. They don’t have good restaurant manners.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

35 thoughts on “THE DAILY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong”

              1. They used to steal all our bird food. My husband rigged up a plastic dish on a horizontal pole that we extended off our deck which was about 20 feet down to a hillside covered by rosemary. The birds could perch and each but if a squirrel did, the plate would tip with the weight and spill the squirrel off onto the rosemary down below, that cushioned its fall. We’d lost the whole dish of birdseed, as well, however, and soon little birdseedy plants started to spring up through the rosemary.. but the squirrels learned to leave it alone, pretty much.

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    1. Owning the right lens and patience! I actually had to buy the lens because the one I was originally using wasn’t doing the job. If you have the right lens and you are willing to wait — well, it helps to know how to focus, too — you can’t lose 😀

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    1. They aren’t very pretty, usually, but that one was posing for me. It’s also hard to get them because the sun is coming from the opposite side, so I’m shooting the west side and the sun is from the east. But I compensate a little with Photoshop and another brightening filter. Still, there’s always a dark patch at their throat and I can’t lighten it without making the rest of the bird too pale. He was a handsome guy, though. The girls are just gray-brown birds that you almost don’t notice!

      The squirrels are very persistent!

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  1. “Oh, there’s Marilyn. Don’t worry about her–she’s harmless.” The squirrels love their new little nickname–Buster. They love you, Marilyn. They’re not going anywhere…

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  2. Your woodpecker looks more like Woody than ours. Of course, ours is way up in a tree and I can not get a good look. This season he seems to prefer a neighbor’s tree more than ours. Better bugs, I suppose.

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    1. We’ve got at least three woodpeckers which I’ve photographed — and the Pileated one who REALLY looks like Woody who I haven’t gotten a picture of. He flies by, but he isn’t a feeder bird. He goes straight for the trees … and he’s BIG.

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  3. It’s lovely to see that you don’t have your feeders covered in anti-squirrel cages – I’m all for having them hang off my feeders as well (I did have a dedicated squirrel feeder too 0 but that didn’t stop them hanging from the bird feeders).

    You have some stunning birds in the US – I’m quite taken with those Cowbirds, although it does seem an odd name – but then we have Peewit’s (Lapwings) in the UK so I guess we’re just as bad. Superb Photography as well.

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    1. They used to follow buffalo herds, then later cow herds and eat the bugs they kicked up as they went through. Hence the name. I kind of like them. They aren’t as pretty as my finches, but they’ve really moved in and they aren’t afraid of anything, including me.

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  4. Very funny post, Marilyn, and your usual high standard of photos of all your wonderful garden wildlife. 😀 Squirrels are, indeed, the cheekiest and most audacious of garden wildlife, and they never seem to be deterred for long. They are funny though, and I love watching them on feeders and seeing how fast and agile they are. I’m glad your birds have realised you’re on their side. You do have an amazing array of them over there – we don’t get woodpeckers on our feeders, and we have goldfinches, but they don’t look like yours. A lovely, colourful and funny post. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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    1. They ARE funny and I enjoy them, but they can knock off 10 pounds of feed in a couple of days … and birdseed isn’t free. It also isn’t cheap! But they are terribly funny as they do all their twisting and turning, trying to get the best seeds.

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