Our backyard is the perfect snowscape. The delicate tree branches are coated with ice, making them look as shiny and delicate as a backyard of silver chandeliers.
The snow covered hill is our miniature Swiss Alp.
Thriving in this winter scene is a family of three squirrels. They’re either a family or a kinky group of very close friends. They romp around, chase each other up and down trees, dig snow tunnels and search for food. The main source of their food foraging is our set of dual bird feeders. Each feeder hangs from a single hook on a double pole. The squirrels have no problems shimmying up the pole, reaching over to the feeder, and helping themselves to squirrelly-stomach-warming meals of birdseed.
But technology has caught up to their never-ending nefarious nips nabbed from the birds. The new feeder is equipped with a battery controlled balance bar. The circular bar spins around if a weight heavier than a blue jay alights. Like the weight of a squirrel.
Is there a funnier sight than a squirrel sailing through the air as if shot from a circus cannon? He is not hurt, just a bit puzzled. And he is just as hungry as he was before his aerial catapult.
Now the squirrel brain springs into action. At this point it is man vs. rodent in an unending battle of wills.To stop him from shimmying up the pole we install a cone-shaped baffle, putting an end to his attempt to scale the pole and reach the feeder.
Squirrel is befuddled. He comes up with Plan B: the Big Jump. He steadies himself on a snow bank and leaps onto the top of the baffle. He has won! Or so he thinks: now he places one paw on the balance bar to steady himself while he reaches for his tasty reward, when “Whirr”: he is flying through the air. He experiences instant squirrel shock. This has never happened to him or his ancestors before.
Time for Plan C.
Squirrel, still determined, jumps onto the baffle top again. This time, instead of placing a paw on the bar he continues to climb to the top of the pole. Now above the feeders, he stretches his body down to meet the mouth of the feeder, and manages a few seeds before we see him, open the kitchen door and emit bloodthirsty screams. The startled squirrel jumps off the baffle.
Man’s turn: we now coat the baffle with a heavy coat of gooey, greasy engine oil. Now when the marauder prepares for his leap he lands, skids and slides right off, executing an Olympic caliber somersault.
Squirrel sits on the ground, looking longingly at the bird feeders above. “My kingdom for a few sunflower seeds. Husked, of course.”
The sad sight of the hungry squirrel looking so defeated and unhappy moves me. The snow on the ground has become solid ice, making it look like a vanilla Carvel ice cream cake. How can any animal find food in a frozen tundra?
Anyway what harm do squirrels do? They don’t destroy plants by eating roots, they don’t kill plants by nipping at new growth, they don’t tunnel underground, making the lawn collapse. Are they so bad?
All he longs for, in his dearest squirrel fantasies, are a few little handfuls of sunflower seeds. My conscience asks me “Must you deprive the little fellow of a life sustaining meal?”
So I get to work. Off comes the baffle on the feeder. Out comes the battery that rotates the balance bar.
I stop short of installing a ladder to the feeder to help squirrel realize his quest.
“Enjoy, little friend,” I say. “It’s been a tough winter for everybody.”
Comments on: "MY SQUIRREL IS SMARTER THAN YOURS" (39)
Wonderful imagery here. I love this!
This is wonderful!!! They are absolutely, positively AMAZING, aren’t they?!! Cheers! 🙂
Those critters are so darn smart! They must all get the same training.
Great photos and story Ronnie
Thank you, Eddie. I appreciate your comment after reading all the wisdom in YOUR blog!
What a story. I would have loved a video of that squirrel twirling around. I used to think that what separated Man from other animals was our ability to solve problems. Not so! Unless, of course, your squirrel is a man in disguise.
I would probably have to sit quietly by the bird feeder all afternoon until a squirrel came by and tried to climb up there. But I agree: it would have made quite the photo,
Aw, how nice of you! I always feel a little sorry for the squirrels, too. We used to have a squirrel feeder that was great fun to watch: It was a wooden house-shaped box with a porch so the squirrels had a place to sit, and it was designed to be filled with peanuts in the shell. The only catch was this: There was no aperture for them to pull the peanuts out; only the hinged lid at the top of the box. It was amazing how quickly the squirrels figured out how to sit on the porch, open the lid, grab a peanut, and let the lid drop closed again. Then they’d eat (or hide) their peanut and go back for more, one at a time. Hours of entertainment!
I have to wonder whether any scientific studies are being done on the squirrel brain. They are the most clever, innovative creatures I’ve ever seen; they seem to be able to figure out problems and get their snacks no matter how smart their human counterparts try to be.
wonderful story- so many excellent images and such great photos!!! Thanks for all my smiles while reading your delightful article❤
Many thanks for your thoughtful comments.
Aww, what a lovely thing to do. They are funny to watch trying to raid bird feeders, but squirrels will be starving too.
…and we don’t wish them harm. I am so lucky to be a human who has a place the live and be warm and safe!
I’m with you! Squirrels gotta squirrel.
Even in winter?
I love this post- it is so Ronnie to think of others, even lowly Squirrels.
No creature is too lowly, with possible exception of mosquitoes.
MY DEAR RONNIE, HOW CAN I NOT LAUGH MY SIDES SILLY PICTURING THE SIGHT YOU CREATE. YOU were BORN to Write and Spread Pleassure
Jack Or Lynn email@example.com
And I love the image of you sitting and laughing!
What a truly beautiful delightful story, I was certainly hoping for a friendly amicable ending.
I hope that ending was friendly and amicable enough to suit your expectations.
Fascinating, familiar, tale
It sounds like you related to the issue…
Certainly did 🙂
Good for you. You could get some dried corn for them. A full squirrel is a lazy squirrel.
Hmmm; I know some humans with similar behaviors.
We’re spraying our bird feeders with WD40 – recommended by hardware store– but squirrels still seem to climb. Impossible! I yell at them to no avail.
WD 40 freezes or otherwise loses its sliding properties. We found that thick layers of Vaseline spread on the pole works better. Plus it’s fun watching squirrels start on their way up and slide right back down.
You are a squirrel benefactor who deserves accolades. And what a wonderful story this is!
Thank you, Dor; and you are wonderful for your kind comment!
My wife’s generosity with our squirrels has been amply rewarded. they have now invited their sisters,brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins to participate in our generosity by having a family picnic at our bird feeders on a regular basis.Other family friends will predictably arrive in the future
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a squirrel family reunion!
I know a lot of people hate them for the damage they do but . . . they are sooo cute and smart! Great entertainment.
Thanks for the comment. And the squirrels thank you for the complement you paid them.
PS: my wife’s act of generosity to our squirrels has been rewarded by all the squirrel’s brothers,sisters,aunts and uncles as well as cousins now joining in a family picnic on a routine basis at our feeders!
It is a crime the way people treat the majestic squirrel while bending over backwards to feed the pesky birds. An actual squirrel feeder would be a great addition to your backyard (they love corn even more than they love birdseed)…
Can you help me out; what does a squirrel feeder look like?
I have one that is just a wire cage that holds an ear of hard corn. There are others that resemble birdhouses that you can fill with bagged corn or sunflower seed. Most stores that sell birdseed will have a squirrel feeder or two among the selection…
Thanks: I have never seen one.