THE CRASHING SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been going eyeball to eyeball with our local squirrels. First, I thought we had just a few squirrels, but lately, I realize we have all of them. The entire woods full of squirrels are part of our world.

Our fearless deck squirrel

They all come, hang around, decide they need to wrap themselves around the feeder and suck the seeds out of it. Garry fills the feeder in the evening and by the following morning, more than half of it — about 3 pounds of seeds — are gone.

Another snack

They used to get spooked when I tapped on the window. Then they only got twitchy if I opened a window and yelled at them. Eventually, that didn’t work either. Now, I have to actually go out on the deck and they sit there, on the rail, staring me in the eye. I’m pretty sure that eventually, I’m going to have to physically remove them. By hand. I’m not looking forward to that. I have a feeling these little guys bite.

It isn’t that I mind them having a meal. I mind them eating everything and never stopping. How can such small furry creatures eat so much and so often? It seems to me that their appetites are never satiated. There’s no such thing as enough … or if there is, there’s another one waiting on the rail to take over.

I have come to recognize some of them by their scars, by the colors of their tails, by their size.

This morning, our midday squirrel was back. I know they are supposed to be crepuscular — feeding early in the morning and just before the sun sets. But this one likes noon. Just about as I’m setting up the coffee, he’s hanging on the feeder.

Squirrel on the rail

So I opened the top of the Dutch door and said: “We’ve had this discussion before. It’s time for you to go home to your trees. Eat acorns. Find plants to chew.” He looked at me. I’m pretty sure he smirked at me, too.

I reminded him that I was getting weary of this conversation. I could see him thinking. “Shall I buzz off or shall I jump into that flat feeder? Hmm.”

Taking that fatal leap!

Finally, he decided I was NOT a force to be reckoned with and he launched himself into the flat feeder. But this once, the flat feeder fought back and tipped sideways.

Tail end of the crashing squirrel

All the seeds spilled down to the ground below along with the squirrel. I nearly caught the shot on his way down, but all I got was the fuzzy tip of his tail as he fell to the ground. Which wasn’t so bad because he landed in the forsythia bush, then on the ground where there were pounds of seeds he was now free to eat.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? Surely humiliation would stop him from further depredations.

You would be wrong. In fewer than five minutes, he was back on the rail.

I had to go out and forcefully explain that it was past feeding time and he was going to let the birds have a go at the feeder. They sit in the nearby tree limbs, waiting for the squirrels to move on and for some reason, they seem to know I’m yelling at the squirrel — not them. How they knew this, I have no idea.

The young Cardinal

I ultimately convinced him to go travel amongst the trees and give the birds time at the feeder. The first arrivals were a couple of Cowbirds, a few Goldfinches, and a big Red-Bellied Woodpecker plus a young Cardinal. I actually got some pictures.

Cowbirds

I’m sure he was back as soon as we left to go to my son’s birthday party because when we came home, the hanging feeder was nearly empty. We are running out of seeds and have run out of money, so everyone is just going to have to survive on their own for a while.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

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

23 thoughts on “THE CRASHING SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. One of the more admirable traits about my fellow sciurines is the fact that they have very little fear of failure. No matter how dramatically their mission goes awry, they will try, try again. Unless it kills them, but they’re pretty indestructible when left to their own devices. They are a very determines species… I wish I had half the ambition they do…

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    1. This guy fell two stories into a bush and was back on the deck as soon as he cleared his brain or ate all the seeds he dropped on the ground. They do NOT give up. I know a lot of feeders give up, though. If they would come, eat something, then go home, no problem. But they grab onto the feeder — either feeder — and will not be removed short of a whack on the head. They just get bolder every day and I do not want to get into a fight in which I get bitten and the squirrel STILL eats the whole seed bin.

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  2. Wonderful pictures, Marilyn! Love the falling and leaping ones. They are audacious little blighters, aren’t they? Have you thought of a water pistol? It might teach them a lesson without you having to risk being bitten. Good luck with them, anyway, they’re pretty determined creatures. Very photogenic though. 🙂

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    1. I took one down today. It needed a thorough cleaning and I’m considering leaving it down for a while. It’s spring and there’s real food for the birds and squirrels. They don’t need our feeder all summer. But we’ll see. Those squirrels are definitely bolder by the day.

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    1. I also have the least easily frightened squirrels. They pay as little attention to me as the dogs! And that’s saying something because the dogs ignore me unless I’ve got food in my hand. Or they want to play ball!

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  3. Brilliant post and brilliant pictures as always.

    I think all of us that feed birds need to realise that whilst we think we’re putting out bird feeders – we are delusional…

    Maybe it might be worth taking them down for a while – or get a garden hose pipe with power spray attachment – bit better than a water pistol but not as bad as a pressure washer (save that for later).

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    1. The bullying, well, the animals have to sort that out themselves — but the massive eating orgy of the squirrels is ridiculous. They eat pounds of food a day and if they don’t quit, WE will have to quit. Birdseed is NOT cheap.

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    1. Evil, your kin folk are asking for trouble. I told one of your cousins to get off the damn bird feeder. He gave me an insolent. dirty look and just kept munching. Finally, I opened the door and, with my fourth warning, your cousin squirrel glared at me and slowly, very slowly sauntered away. He slithered under the porch where I could clearly see him – just biding time for a return. Your cousin’s future doesn’t look good.

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      1. I’m suggesting we set up guard posting times. I get the first watch, Garry can take the second. Garry says he can see them watching the deck from underneath because he could see them from the downstairs bathroom. Maybe the answer is letting the feeders go empty for a few weeks. There IS food in the woods now … but I enjoy the birds. They have become sort of a hobby and I would miss them. But there’s also reality. Garry filled the feeder today and I’m sure by the time we get up in the morning, more than half of it will be gone.

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        1. Actually, depending on whether or not the gypsy moth caterpillars take over, we may need to leave the feeders up so the birds have something to eat. Those caterpillars strip the trees. I can’t believe we have the insect invasion TOO.

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