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The Last Windrow: It's time to wave white flag at squirrels

"I think I shall never see "More squirrels staring back at me. "Looking forlorn as they can be, "Waiting for another load of sunflower seeds!" Winter has entered the time when humans and animals tend to get a bit stressed. Deer are wading through...

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"I think I shall never see

"More squirrels staring back at me.

"Looking forlorn as they can be,

"Waiting for another load of sunflower seeds!"

Winter has entered the time when humans and animals tend to get a bit stressed. Deer are wading through the chest-deep drifts in search of a kernel of corn or a tree or flower bud. Grouse are picking at catkins at the tops of aspen trees and then diving under the snow during the night. Snowshoe rabbits are making trails through the woods with their huge, fuzzy back feet. Bears are snoozing in their dens.

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Humans living up here on the tundra are beginning to crinkle around the edges as well. They have given up on keeping salt off their cars. Some have decreed that they will not start their snowblower again until next winter.

The hearty north country folks around my place have given up taking hikes because once off the trail they tend to disappear from sight. And, walking on traveled, icy roadways can be dangerous to one's health.

The emergency rooms are active at local hospitals taking care of those unfortunate souls who have somehow taken a "header" and landed upside down on the pavement, shattering who knows what.

I'm on my sixth 50-pound sack of sunflower seeds. One of the activities that keeps my mind from disintegrating this time of year is watching our feathered friends visit the bird feeders outside our kitchen window. They flit down like snowflakes from snow-covered branches above.

Sometimes the flight takes on the look of a rainstorm. Chickadees, nuthatches, pine siskins and woodpeckers of various breeds come to the feeder, and it feels good to know I may have played some part in keeping them alive until spring nesting season.

The despair of a long winter seems to melt a little as I watch these active little birds dive into the sunflower seeds.

And then there are the squirrels. Books have been written about how to keep them out of bird feeders. Various devices have been invented in an attempt to deter the rodents from devouring seeds meant for birds.

My dad had such a device many years ago. If a squirrel landed on the feeder's perch, the feeder would spin around, thus tossing the squirrel from its perch. That was how it was supposed to work.

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We watched one morning as a fat squirrel descended to the feeder's perch that then began to spin. The squirrel held on long enough for the feeder to toss out an ample supply of seeds to earth after which the squirrel simply dropped to the ground and proceeded to gobble up the tasty morsels. The feeder still sits in the basement of the house.

I've tried everything from yelling, banging a pan on the deck, tickling them with a BB gun and even occasionally triggering a shotgun blast through the treetops to keep my squirrel colony at bay, but to no avail.

Once inside, settled into my recliner, my wife would chime in from the kitchen that "the squirrels are back." After rising rapidly to again scatter the gathered group of squirrels as I did earlier in the winter, now I find myself just casting a bloodshot eye toward the feeders before returning to watching the latest edition of "The Lone Ranger." I have caved in.

So, tomorrow I will venture back to the feed store and purchase another 50 pounds of black sunflower seeds fully knowing that half of the bag will feed birds and the rest will be sacrificed to a grateful group of gray squirrels.

They are staring at me through the window as this column is written. The feeder must be empty.

See you next time. Okay?

Related Topics: THE LAST WINDROW
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