Feeders and houses and seed and suet



Terry and I have a few bird friendly areas out in our yard. There are some birdfeeders that we keep stocked year round. Once, at the New York State Fair, we had the opportunity to build two birdhouses. It was at an exhibit hosted by the state parks, and the houses were generally set for bluebirds. Both have been mounted on poles and are available for residents (though I have zero clue about the application process involved and collect no rent).

Allow me to ask if you meet both of these conditions: (1) Have at least one birdfeeder in your yard. (2) Have a tree… just one tree… any type of tree… visible from your house.

If the answer to both is yes, then I feel quite comfortable believing you have on occasion seen a squirrel or two out there enjoying a meal. Because that’s basically the way it works. Install birdfeeder. Squirrels show up.

For the most part, we prefer discouraging the squirrels.

Why? You ask why?

Mainly the potential damage.

Birds can be bad around the house. They fly into windows when the sun shines just right. They get into vents and ductwork. They poop.

Squirrels though… they aren’t just clumsy and dumb and messy. They can be regular saboteurs.

(That there is a fancy word. Saboteurs. I’m using it because I think anyone that has ever had a squirrel in their attic would approve of any and all insinuations resulting from that very word. They do seem to willfully… with malice and intent and disregard… damage, destroy, and, yes, sabotage stuff.)

Like many houses, we have a deck out back and access to it from a door in the kitchen. Every so often, we’ll be making breakfast or washing dishes or any of a number of things, and we’ll look outside and see a squirrel or two or three in the yard. And from whatever imagination you can offer… picture them on the ground eating bread crumbs… picture them dangling from the edge of the tray on a feeder… picture them sitting on the railing of a deck eating seed and such as if they couldn’t be any more comfortable if you had invited them to join you and brought them a cup of coffee.

Off we go to the back door, unlock it and slide it open, and…


Usually just one-word, one-shout, sends them scurrying into the brush way off in the distance. Occasionally one will dart over to the neighbor’s and up one of his trees. Every so often, one will pause to provide a dirty over the shoulder look back. Always they leave our yard.

We both find ourselves swaying in energy and emotion however.

A squirrel way out in the corner of the yard, nibbling a bit, on the ground and kind of alone while not really bothering anything? Door might remain shut. Not worth the effort.

Looks like it’s gnawing on the feeder or tearing it apart to get to the seed? Swinging from a hook mounted on one of the posts for the deck’s railing? This means war!

“Squirrel!”… and off to the races.

If we could just get one message across to them, I think things would be fine. Something along the lines of we’ll put out food and you’re welcome to it, just don’t go destroying any of our stuff. Might need a bit of editing and some additional thought for the full message, but it’s close.

Every so often, I’ll be outside, and the indicators are there. Might be while scanning the lawn as I mow, and I spot some wood shards under a feeder. Maybe I’m actually bringing out seed and suet cakes, and find teeth marks.

We’ve been watching for the birds for a while. We’ve been enjoying the birds for a while. Cardinals… blue jays… goldfinches… mourning doves… hawks… woodpeckers… hummingbirds… and on and on. Even had a few turkeys trotting across the lawn. I have yet to see… and don’t believe… that any of these birds landed on one of the feeders, reached out, and then deliberately tore apart the framework to release the stock of seed inside.

A squirrel? Damaging the feeders? Yes. Yes, that I believe. And there’s the problem.

Every so often I find myself making assumptions about the squirrels. That one… there… at the edge of the road. That one looks just a little too healthy… a little too well fed. That one needs to be stopped. That one needs to learn a lesson about territory and trespassing.

This in turn gets the mind racing a bit. After all… if you can’t explain to a squirrel that showing up at the buffet is fine as long as some respect for property is shown, then chances are good you aren’t going to be able to explain permanently getting off my yard. Which brings us to only one solution.



If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com