Last week I posted about bird-watching and the joys and endless entertainment that this hobby provides. I also discussed hanging bird feeders to provide a source of food for wild birds when natural seed sources are depleted. What I didn’t mention last week was that when you feed the wild birds, there is a certainty that other non-feathered visitors will start to appear before long. I am talking, of course, about those seed and peanut thieves.
My feeders aren’t immune, and it wasn’t long after setting them up that the brazen peanut thieves arrived. Like most bandits, peanut thieves are opportunistic, looking for easy chances to score their prize. They are bold and shameless in their thievery, flaunting their acrobatic prowess as they nab as many peanuts as possible. Their flexibility and determination know no bounds as they relentlessly go about executing their peanut thieving plans. They are daring, acrobatic, cute, and fuzzy, and yes, they are squirrels.
Like highly trained gymnasts, squirrels procure food from feeders as if they perform in the Cirque du Soleil. Trapeze artists and tightrope walkers have nothing on these furry rodents! They will stop at nothing to come away with whatever delectable tidbit you are offering in your feeders. Hang upside down? Twist their bodies into impossible formations? Dangle from a branch by one toe? Squirrels can do it all. They often laugh in defiance of the “squirrel-proof” label, quickly figuring out most of the latest and greatest innovations meant to keep them at bay.
Their voracious appetites will empty a feeder within no time, and their occupancy at the feeders often inhibits birds, for whom the seed is intended, from eating. When several attempts on my part failed to thwart the thieves, I took an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach. In an effort to appease both parties, I splurged on purchasing the peanut thieves specialty food. My thought was that while the squirrels dined on the corn cobs, the birds could feast on the seeds and nuts. However, the peanut thieves would have none of it! What snobbery the squirrels in my yard showed! They scoffed at the pricey corn treats that I had purchased for them and continued instead to raid my feeders. I had to laugh at their audacity.
We have since come to an understanding of sorts, the squirrels and I. There is no written contract, but the terms are as follows: I provide them with peanuts and seeds, and they greedily eat them. There doesn’t seem to be any hope of renegotiating these terms.
While some people love them and others loathe them, regardless of your opinion of these furry acrobats, there is no denying the squirrel’s intelligence and sheer determination when it comes to obtaining a meal. I must admit that I find squirrels endearing despite their bold nature. They are endlessly entertaining as they scurry up and down trees and perform their acts of thievery. I can’t seem to resist their cuteness despite their crime. It is as if they know they need to come in an adorable package to carry out their burglary acts successfully.
My new strategy is to purchase several feeders so that the birds can get their fill while the bandits continue to thieve. Thus far, it seems to be appeasing both parties. They all leave with full bellies, and I’m pretty sure I see a wry smile plastered on the chubby cheeks of the peanut thieves as they scurry away. Yup, they will be back to thieve another day.
Photographs: Eastern Gray Squirrel aka Peanut Thief