Alright, squirrels. Enough is enough.
I have been accepting of squirrels for a long time. I get that plenty of folks don’t like them. But I find them somewhat entertaining, and I am willing to let them take part in my feeders. In fact, I adopted my father’s approach on this: Call them squirrel feeders, and then you are pleasantly surprised when birds show up.
But this has gotten out of hand.
By my estimate, I am on my 4,000th consecutive day of having to repair a feeder because squirrels make it so we can’t have nice things.
I have one small feeder I keep right on my porch. My back porch is my default home office, and I spend as much time out there as I can, as I enjoy being able to sit in peace and quiet for a good six seconds until the door slides open and someone says, “Dad, (insert sibling here) did (insert annoying thing one sibling did to the other that could easily be ignored but has to be a national emergency instead).”
But during my few moments of solitude, I enjoy seeing numerous different types of birds come to the feeder. We have a good understanding: I’ll keep the feeder stocked, and they will flit up and give me a nice moment of nature to enjoy.
The squirrels do not approach when I am on the deck. I will occasionally see them walking the fence or scurrying about in the trees. But they keep a wide berth when I am outside. And I think I know why. I think they know that if they approach, they will get a good talking to as to why, when I came outside, my feeder was on the ground again, and sunflower seeds were strewn about the yard.
Science fact: Squirrels loathe a good talking-to.
The feeder I have is not a fancy one at all. It’s a small wooden one that is easily dislodged by a couple of playfully destructive squirrels swinging it back and forth. I know there are numerous anti-squirrel feeders out there. Some of them quite hilariously sling the squirrels off. If you haven’t seen it, off to YouTube with you.
But there are two problems with the squirrel-proof feeders: (1) I kinda like the squirrels (2) my feeder is already in place and getting another one would require both time and money, neither of which I am readily eager to dispense with.
As I came out to my deck to write this column, I found the feeder on the ground again. And I had made the rookie mistake of leaving the bag of sunflower seeds in a chair on the deck, so the squirrels had also happily torn into that and left shells all over my deck. Really, squirrels? This is how you thank me?
I considered bringing them to the table for a summit to iron out our differences and find some common ground. But squirrels are notoriously stubborn negotiators, so I knew this would be a non-starter. Thus, I have decided on the only option left for me. I am going nuclear: I am now classifying my feeder as a bird feeder. You hear that squirrels? Yeah. I did it. This is for the birds. In a good way.
I hate to have to bring the hammer down in such a strict manner. But if there is one thing that raising children has taught me it’s that sometimes, you have to make the hard decisions for the long-term greater good.
My hope is that the squirrels will understand this harsh change and learn and grow. To any of my neighborhood squirrels reading this who have not been destructive to my feeder, I’m sorry that you are being punished for the bad actions of a few. But that is life.
I’m glad we are at a point where we can move past this, and I look forward to the time when I can welcome you back to the feeder, and you have matured to the point where you can show it the respect it deserves.
Also I’m guessing that some time around, oh, say, tomorrow, I will be buying a squirrel proof feeder.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.