Rural Ramblings: A Squirrel, Woodpecker, And Chickadee Walk Into A Bar

"I know I’m not alone in my bird feeder saga."

Rural Ramblings: A Squirrel, Woodpecker, And Chickadee Walk Into A Bar

I want to breakdown a first world problem occurring on the shores of Moon Lake. It started many moons ago with me wanting to brighten up the doldrums of Winter with a bird feeder. Little did I know this would result in a multi-year saga that involved our former cat dropping a dead bird on my head. But that’s a story for a different day.

Today, I want to share the emotional investment my family is making to restore order to where squirrels and birds should get their next meal. I’ll ignore the financial investment we’ve made over the years in terms of varying degrees of successful and not so successful squirrel proof feeders and handyman Steve (aka the husband). Our latest squirrel proof feeder is limited to very small birds, primarily chickadees. It also seemed to deter the plump gray squirrels that despite countless body contortions cannot quite get into the feeder. But, I’m finding even the best feeder money can buy is no obstacle for the red squirrel.

I refuse to let these rodents win. The animal lovers in our family refuse to eradicate the population with questionable tactics. This leaves us at an impasse that’s resulted in a series of entertaining yet lackluster results. It started with my husband loudly flailing in his boxers at the squirrels in hoping to instill fear. The results were surprisingly similar to me screaming at the deer who eat our blue fescue grass each spring as they sigh in annoyance by the noise.

My son stepped in to help by turning to his arsenal of Nerf gun artillery. When a single shot Nerf rifle had the red squirrel visibly mocking him, he transitioned to the semi-automatic Nerf gun. A few shots found their target, but were far from lethal or effective, and instead I found my yard littered with neon green bullets.

Next, we dispatched our geriatric dog Joey who barked profusely and forced the squirrel to retreat to a nearby aspen, only to return moments later. Our once successful cat has long since passed and our new kitten is not sophisticated enough to be released outside. Instead, kitten Scout bats at the patio glass unsuccessfully attempting to woo the birds with a disturbing cat song that resembles scratching your vinyl record.

Running out of options, I turn to the adage, you can catch more bees with honey. I invest in a suet feeder. Since suet is out due to our dog, I bake cornbread believing the squirrels and unserved woodpeckers that are hollowing out our dying scrub oaks could benefit, and our chickadees could finally enjoy their sunflower seeds. It seemed like a small price to pay for everyone to win.

It didn’t work. Or, should I say it worked for the squirrels. The gray squirrels who were content to eat left over chicken food on the other side of our house, now relished in noshing on freshly baked cornbread. The woodpeckers returned to our deck, happy to snack as well. But, the red squirrels kept going for the shiny black sunflower seeds as well. Ruthless and attempting to chew through yet another Cadillac birdfeeder. And then, the suet feeder disappeared. Since the obvious culprits are hibernating, I’m convinced a gang of red squirrels hauled the cornbread and feeder off into the sunset. My husband later recovered said feeder, completely empty.

And so here we are. Out of options, I’ve surrendered recognizing that Mother Nature wins again. That despite marketing promises made by squirrel proof bird feeder makers, it just isn’t a thing. That said, I’ve come to realize perhaps I lost the battle but won the war. My initial goal was to simply brighten up our winter with a few birds. Knowing what I knew then, I couldn’t have possibly envisioned it involved woodpeckers, squirrels, chipmunks, cats, a dog, my son, a handyman husband and an overnight mystery.

Self-help guru Wayne Dryer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, thing change.”

I know I’m not alone in my bird feeder saga. Youtube confirms this with many a homeowner sharing their woes around trying to modify mother nature. So, the saga continues and the goal remains the same. But we pivot. I’m off to buy a new suet feeder and my husband will double reinforce it. I’ll bake another loaf of cornbread and perhaps a trail cam installation will happen. The universe will remind me I got exactly what I asked for – that all is well – and rarely is the solution what we think.

If you are interested in reading more random articles about parenting struggles and a pursuit of living an extraordinarily ordinary life, check out my website, where you can sign up for my newsletter and read more of my ramblings about rural living.

Last Update: Mar 13, 2024 11:50 am CDT

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