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.

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.

THE CUTE FACTOR IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Cute Factor

I’ve got a lot of cute pictures recently. I have entire SD cards full of cuteness I haven’t had the time to process, so this was an interesting process. Two pictures I definitely wanted … but the rest? Squirrels being incredibly cute all the time and a variety of birds doing funny birdy stuff.

Anyway, this is what I decided on. Mostly because these had the best contrast or texture or something.

My favorite. This is the cutest little Tufted Titmouse I think I’ve ever seen
Two chubby Doves nesting in the seeds and not leaving until they feel well fed
This little squirrel has become really hard to convince he should leave. He moves in the middle of the day, shoos the birds off the feeder and hangs on for dear life

This little squirrel is not afraid of anything, although I think he really should be. I finally had to go outside and walk up to the feeder and explain to him that he’d been there for hours and it was time to let some of the other kids have a seed. He would just hop onto the nearest branch, wait for me to go back inside, they hop back on the feeder.

Same squirrel. Back again.
Two little birds, sitting on the feeder. The fuzzy one is molting.

I finally went and stood there and every time his/her little head popped up I would say — just like I talk to the dogs — “No. I said you have to leave now. I wasn’t kidding. No, get back down. You have to go find other food now.” He kept popping up, like a little furry jack-in-the-box. But cute? Absolutely. He really should be more careful, though. He is not careful and he doesn’t watch for the Hawks.

THE CHANGING SEASONS – MARCH 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

HIBERNATING THROUGH MARCH

The season didn’t change much here, though I suppose it got warmer overall. Mostly, though, the birds changed. I spent the month hibernating. This is the time of year when I really begin to hate our weather.

We are (usually) past major amounts of snow, though some of the heaviest snow we’ve ever seen has shown up in March and April. In this area in 1997, 36 inches of snow fell on April 1st and almost 25 in Boston.

Garry’s Snow Pictures

There is a storm on the way, but I am expecting mostly rain. I could be wrong, but I’m counting on being right.

Birds in March

Red-Bellied Woodpecker at feeding time

We got the heaviest snow of the winter at the beginning of the month and Garry took the pictures. It took about a week to melt and then it got warm, rained, was windy, got cold. Then a day or two of warm.

Garry’s Valley In March

Cardinal back in the woods

I’m trying to pay as little attention as I can to the news. I’m not very good at it, but I keep trying. All of the news from everywhere on the globe, but even more from here, is bad. I feel like the entire world has gone wrong. I really want to live through this and see it get better. I do not want this to be the last I see of this world!

Cardinal in the woods
We see each other!
Scarred and scornful, I stand my ground!
One of my birthday bouquets!

And the new bathroom!


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su-Leslie’s post, she will update it with links to of yours.

SQUIRRELS AND BLACK SUNFLOWER SEEDS – Marilyn Armstrong

In the course of buying a lot of birdseed, I went whole-hog and bought 20-pounds of black sunflower seeds. Black sunflower seeds hold the most oil and the Russian cultivar, Black Peredovik sunflower, are oil seed sunflowers used most often for birdseed.

Opening move
A quick twist to the right
A diving right twist

It was bred as a sunflower oil production crop. The seeds are medium-sized and deep black. They have more meat than regular sunflower seeds and the outer husk is soft so even small birds can crack into it. It is rated the number one food for wild birds by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Deep diver
Missed something on the other side …

The two times a year when birds need these seeds the most are winter and during mating season. It’s definitely mating season. I can tell because the birds are all changing into their mating colors. Bright colors. Scarlet and brilliant yellow and bright blue.

Catching a breath of air and a few seeds
So DEE-LISH!

But, you ask, what about the poor squirrels? Don’t they get some of the good stuff?

Beware birds! The hanging squirrel is here!

Of course, they do. You might say they get it first because we filled the feeders this afternoon and by twilight this evening, we had two squirrels chugging down black sunflower seeds, one in the flat feeder and the other going through some serious moves on the hanging feeder. The kid on the flat feeder wasn’t leaving — not nohow for any reason. He was deep into the seeds and I’m pretty sure he knocked down at least a pound of them.

The last seed
One last munch

This is the first time we’ve had a full “twin act” in progress. I was sorry I didn’t have a wider lens so I could get them both at the same time.

I took a few pictures.

SQUARED BIRDS AND SQUIRRELS AS MARCH DRAWS TO ITS END – Marilyn Armstrong

Squirrels on the deck

How about a dove?

Squirrel on the flat feeder
Nuthatch on feeder
Posing for a better shot?
Goldfinch
In the sunlight of spring

Spikes and pokes, sharp and pointy, we’re nearing the end. I started with birds and squirrels and it looks like I will end with them, too.

THURSDAY’S BEAKY SPIKES AND SPIKY PAWS – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday’s beaks and paws

As I stood at the French doors in the dining room, I watched both Cardinals — male and physical come and go. I didn’t even both reaching for the camera.

They play this game with me every morning and I didn’t feel like playing today.

They flew off and I got a short visit from one of the red-bellied ladderback woodpeckers. He waited for me, but my camera didn’t feel like focusing. He got annoyed and left. Who could blame him?

Watching me, watching you …

No problem. The little squirrel popped onto the railing. He went into the flat feeder and chugged a pound or two of seeds, then came back to the rail. Where he sat and looked at me. I tapped on the glass. He ignored me. I tapped harder. He ignored me harder.

A quick snack before departure …

Duke got disgusted with me and the squirrel and went out back to do some anti-squirrel barking. Meanwhile, after one more round in the flat feeder, the young squirrel rambled off into the trees. Slowly. I think he waved at us on his way to the giant trees.

Looks like a baby Blue Jay!
Breeding colors – Goldfinch

With the squirrel gone, the birds came back. I took a few pictures. Then I went and drank coffee. The birds are wary of that big, furry, four-legged, bird!

Garry appears worried that the birds aren’t eating enough. I assured him that they appear fat and happy, so they are eating enough. You know you’re hooked when you’re worried your wild birds aren’t getting enough to eat.

Fat Nuthatch
Goldfinch and a Nuthatch

Not to worry. We have about 40-pounds of high-quality birdseed and as they get fully into breeding, they’ll also get hungry. They will eat. They always eat.

Brightest Goldfinch

I also saw a really huge hawk in the woods yesterday. It was so big, I wondered if it might be a young American Eagle. We’ve had them nest in our woods before, but usually, they like being by the river. But then again, we’re less than half a mile from the river and that’s not much for an eagle. Barely a flap of the wings, come to think about it.