Some will call them pest, some will call them cute, but I will call them entertainment!
I’m talking about those little guys with the bushy tails, always busy, always moving and (it seems) always eating.
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Yes, I’m talking about Squirrels!
A friend of mine calls them rats with busy tails (obviously he doesn’t like them), but no matter what they are called, Squirrels are part of the garden culture. You need to learn to at least live with them.
Once you get past the fact they will eat the bird food you put out for the feathered guests in the garden, dig up your most tender plants and tease your cats watching from the window, you realize they really aren’t all that terrible to have in the garden.
My office has large windows looking out into my garden and I have hung the bird feeders in full view of all the activity. And there is plenty to watch. I’m fortunate to have a large variety of birds come to lunch on my offerings- from finches to cranes. Cardinals, blue jays, wood peckers, ground doves and mockingbirds are regular visitors as well. Occasionally I am lucky to find a humming bird. And as threatening as they can be, there is a falcon that will show up when he’s hungry.
Yet, as mesmerized as I become watching the movements of the birds, it is the antics of the squirrels that makes me smile. They endlessly chase each other around the garden, playing whole heartily like children at recess. Sometimes, there will be a bit of bickering over who’s turn it is at the feeder, but it always works out, and everyone gets their share. Birds and squirrels alike. On the hot summer days, they can be found splashing and playing in the bird bath.
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I was gifted a fun birdfeeder that twirls with the weight of the heavier birds. It is designed for small finches, but don’t tell my squirrels. They think it was put there for their enjoyment. Even greasing the pole doesn’t detour their attempts at a meal. I laugh out loud as I watch their efforts. Once they finally reach the top, they jump to the feeder, only to have their weight cause the feeder to spin, often sending them flying. But they don’t give up and immediately try again.
There are 5-7 regular visitors from the squirrel community that make my yard their home. Nesting in the oak trees overhead, using my roof as quick access to the front yard and resting on the bench under my palm tree. They are used to me, and I know with a little effort I could tame them enough to eat from my hand. As they patiently wait on the fence where the feeder is hanging from as I refill it, one or two are chattering at me the whole time. Politely they wait for the feeder to be hung back up before venturing forth to eat, my presence doesn’t bother them.
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So, I feed the birds and the squirrels and in return they give me their form of friendship and vast amounts of entertainment. I’d say it’s an arrangement we all agree on.