Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Piggy Grey Squirrel

I've had a pair of black squirrels that play in the red maple in my backyard for years now. They don't nest in my tree (apparently my tree isn't good enough for them, the snobs) but they do like to hang out and play squirrel-tag in it. In the past I've put out peanuts for them, assuming they ate them when I wasn't looking, but it turns out that these particular squirrels don't like peanuts and will walk right past the pile I leave out when they forage for food.

Well, something was eating the peanuts, and I finally discovered it's a pair of chickadees who will fly with a half peanut to the fence and peck at it a while, sound a triumphant "look what I found!" chirp, then fly off with their prize.

This year a male cardinal must have noticed the chickadees in their not exactly subtle feeding habits and joined them in enjoying their peanut bonanza, coming three times every day between 8 and 9 am, and another three times between 3 and 4 pm., flying back to it's mate somewhere in the bushes across the street afterwards.

I decided I enjoyed watching the cardinal enough that it warranted putting up a bird feeder. Having no luck in finding one at Walmart* or Canadian Tire, I ended up finding a wonderful selection of feeders at TSC, so I bought a small feeder and a squirrel log there, and an enormous 17-year supply bag of bird seed at The Bulk Barn because, hey, a sale is a sale, and strung the feeder from my air conditioner bracket so that it hung right in the middle of my patio door where I would have the best view of it.

Unfortunately the perching area wasn't large enough for the cardinal to land comfortably, and the chickadees would swear up a storm when they came in to land, trying desperately to stop in midair and hover like uncoordinated hummingbirds before perching on the feeder. Obviously that wouldn't do (no-one likes to be sworn at by tiny birds), so I tied some bamboo garden poles to the bottom of it and now the chickadees can land without any problem.

Well, no problem for the first bird to land, but when it takes off it sets the feeder spinning like a top, leaving the other to hang on for it's little birdie life and looking very dizzy as it revolves around with an expression on it's tiny face like a child on the tilt-a-whirl about to hurl.

Apparently chickadees are smart enough learn from their experiences,so after enduring the birdie-go-round a couple of times they learned to wait on the fence for the feeder to stop spinning, but they started to swear again about how long this was taking so I tied a piece of thread from one of the perches to the patio door and now the feeder is finally stable and the chickadees are much happier.

The next morning I heard the female cardinal plaintively calling the male over and over again, but he never replied and it's been several days and he hasn't returned to the yard yet, so I'm afraid he's come to an unfortunate end. Now, on the one hand I'm sad to know he's gone, but on the other hand I did all this just so I could watch the cardinal, so how dare the ungrateful wretch get himself eaten.

The squirrel log, which is actually a log of compressed corn and not made out of squirrels as you may have been led to believe, I tied to the closest arm of the barbeque where I could watch the squirrels nibble away in squirrelly bliss if the packaging on the log was to be believed, and indeed my squirrels do enjoy the corn and haven't even looked at the bird feeder to try to steal the seed out of it the way squirrels have a reputation of doing. Then again, my squirrels ignore peanuts so there's a good chance they're retarded and it may never have occurred to them to raid the bird feeder in the first place.

They really do enjoy the corn though. They'll run across a branch then walk down the fence in that gravity defying way that squirrels do, then balance on a thin branch that's fallen on the garbage can, scamper along some hose, then hop onto the barbeque -- which is directly underneath the branch they started out on so maybe they really are retarded. Anyway, they'll take a bite of corn, but only after contorting their bodies in several unnecessary and very silly ways, then look at me with the same smile I have when eating Jelly Bellies, take another bite, then it's back to either playing squirrel-tag in the tree or flattening themselves against the fence like they've been stepped on by an invisible foot and watch the birds with me for a while.

There is a grey squirrel that comes by occasionally, and it's an arrogant little brat of a squirrel. It will sit and puff up it's fluffy tail and show off how it's the grey colour of parking lots and gravel from above and from below it's the white colour of the sky, and it will boast that it's better looking than my squirrels and much better camouflaged to boot. It will brag to me and the chickadees and my squirrels ...which is more than my squirrels can take and they'll chase the bugger who easily outmanoeuvres them until it gets bored and goes back to (I'm guessing) the snobby squirrel neighbourhood where it lives.

Well, twice it's eaten from the squirrel log, hopping straight from the branch to the barbeque so I guess it's smarter than my squirrels too, but the piggy little bastard will bite off a huge piece, eat two or three bites, drop the piece it's eating like it's bored with it, bite off another huge piece, eat two or three bites, drop that piece, bite off yet another huge piece to eat just a couple of bites, then look me straight in the eye and let that piece fall to the ground, give me the squirrel equivalent of the finger, then dare my squirrels to catch it before prancing back from whence it came.

Oh, I hear another cardinal: I hope it will come to visit my backyard.


(these are temporary photos until I have a chance to upload my own hilarious illustrations)

Addendum: One of the squirrels bit through the string that held up the bird feeder so I guess I need to buy some airplane wire. Oh, and I now have two baby skunks, Noisy and Twitchy.  Noisy shuffles around the backyard loud enough to be mistaken for an animal 14 times larger (I measured) and Twitchy jumps at every sound Noisy makes, and a twitchy skunk is not what you want to have in your yard!

I still haven't gotten around to either illustrating or writing here, though I still write for several hours each day. Once I get the new computer tomorrow ...well, I'll probably end up playing StarCraft II for a few days until I beat it. Hey, I waited 10 years for this to come out!

Once I get the new video camera and start vlogging regularly right after I finish StarCraft II though ...that will be just about when the animé I've ordered will arrive.

Almost definitely after that though ...I should be able to find excellent excuses to still not be writing. Somehow being asked by everyone I know "why aren't you writing yet" seems to have exactly the opposite from the intended effect on me.


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