In Our Own Backyard...Tha-WUMP!Tha-WUMP! I awoke with a start from the deep sleep of early morning and jerked involuntarily, as if I’d been shot.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
I awoke with a start from the deep sleep of early morning and jerked involuntarily, as if I’d been shot.
My head flew up off the pillow and my body stiffened, poised for flight.
As the cobwebs cleared from my sleep-starved brain, I listened intently and as the next jarring shot hit overhead, I heard something roll down the roof and saw an object fall to the ground, followed by another and another and another. Then, and only then, did I begin to grin.
We were on a little Labor Day getaway, and the cabin we were staying in was surrounded by tall white and Norway pines. It seems that our early morning wakeup call was not the result of an errant hunter, but rather the work of an industrious red squirrel.
And so began each morning that we were there. Right around 7 a.m., the strafing would begin, and by the time we walked out the front door, the cabin was surrounded by pine cones. Somewhere nearby, the culprit would chatter at us from a nearby tree, scolding us as if his very life depended upon it. It actually made us feel a little as though we were back at home, since we have our own resident squirrels who wake us with their scolding each morning (often with one or both of our cats on the opposite side of the window with their tails switching….).
Squirrels, particularly red squirrels, seem to feel they pretty much own the world – and they’re on a mission to prove it. Never have I totally succeeded in waging war against their raids on my bird feeders. They’ve drained them of sunflower seed, gnawed through the wood and chewed holes in the ports of my hummingbird feeders. More recently I think they’ve been stealing cherry tomatoes off my patio tomato plants. They’re fiercely determined, and completely incorrigible.
Just ask Cloquet’s Bud Schmidt.
Not long ago, Schmidt bought a high-tech “squirrel-proof” bird feeder to host the many hungry birds in his yard.
“It’s a regular picnic around here!” he said with a laugh.
He said the battery-powered feeder is designed so when a squirrel grabs on to the feeding rail, a sensor “feels” the weight and starts spinning the feeder. The longer the squirrel tries to hold on, the faster it spins. When the squirrel flies off, it slowly spins to a stop.
Just to be on the safe side, Schmidt mounted the feeder on an eight-foot steel rod, though he said that didn’t do a whole lot to deter the squirrels.
“A gray squirrel would manage to jump on the bird feeder from below and the feeder would twirl around until it threw him off,” said Schmidt. “It was pretty entertaining!”
As time went by, however, the squirrels grew wise to the contraption (as it seems they always do), and they would cling to the feeder until the twirling action ceased – and then go ahead and eat the seed anyway.
He moved the feeder further out into his yard, but the squirrels eventually figured out a way to drop down on the feeder from above.
“One morning, a gray squirrel dropped down on the feeder and it spun him loose,” related Schmidt. “He climbed back up on top of the motor and then looked all around, looked up, looked down, and I swear he even looked at me through the window. Then he turned his backside to me – and squirted! It seemed so impossible I couldn’t believe it myself!”
Schmidt said he has since installed a rather sizeable squirrel guard on the post in a further attempt to deter the insolent critters – and so far it’s working. But he’s having second thoughts.
“I’m thinking of taking it off,” he admitted, “– because I kind of miss watching the squirrels!”