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RICK MACLEAN: The bird feeder war began so innocently

The pitched battle to defeat the squirrels' attack was a costly one.
The pitched battle to defeat the squirrels' attack was a costly one.

They’re so cute, a nut in their little hands, chewing away. Such friendly little creatures.

The war began as wars so often do, by accident. And it escalated the same way.

I wanted to set up a bird feeder so Beautiful Wife could see it when she was puttering in the kitchen, or walking through the living room.

My first mistake was putting the feeder in a tree about 10 feet off the ground in line with our second-storey, living room window.

It took a metal bracket shaped like a letter ‘L’ and a couple of nails. Oh, and a ladder so I could hang the feeder on the bracket.

“Perfect,” I gloated, pointing to my creation.

BW looked at me sideways.

“And what am I supposed to do when I have to fill it up with more bird seed?”

Oh, yeah.

“Just haul out the ladder and…”

Another look. Still, it might have worked, except for the drunken bear.

It looked like a two-year-old and it turns out when bears get hungry in the fall, and the apples fall from the trees, bears eat and eat and eat. But rotting apples produce alcohol and well, the bear that showed up in our yard got hammered.

First, he sat on the front step, at 5 p.m., in full daylight, and refused to move. I’m guessing the ground was spinning. When he did get up, he scrambled up the tree, tore down the bird feeder, ate the seed as dessert, then ambled off.

I drove to the nearby Canadian Tire, bought 10 feet of rope and some pulleys. I fastened one end of the rope to the bird feeder, looped the rope over the bracket and pulley, crawled down the ladder and started to haul up the feeder as BW watched.

I was three feet short. The rope didn’t come down far enough to reach – except with the ladder. I returned to the store and bought 30 feet of rope.

“Perfect,” I gloated at my contraption. “Now we can bring it in every night so the bear can’t get at it.”

There was a hint of grudging admiration from BW. The bear checked out our restaurant in the tree, figured out it was closed and headed off to get drunk in someone else’s yard.

“Victory,” I gloated.

Then came the squirrels.

I’ve always liked squirrels. They’re so cute, a nut in their little hands, chewing away. Such friendly little creatures.

“Rick! What are you doing,” BW yelled from the living room window a week or so after my bear victory.

“I’m throwing the rake at the squirrels,” I explained, as I attempted to fire the ungainly spear skyward one more futile time. Squirrels are tricky. And cocky.

“You’re never going to hit him,” BW said bluntly. Besides, he’s just sitting there, laughing at you.

And he was. He was sitting on the bracket – “thanks for setting up a place for me to hang out, by the way,” he seemed to be saying – as he grabbed the black seeds, chewed away the husk, ate the good bit, then threw the garbage onto the lawn.

I bought new feeders designed to keep away squirrels. They – there were now four squirrels – laughed, climbed down the feeders upside down, grabbed the seeds, and sat on the perch.

I bought more feeders. They worked.

“Victory,” I gloated.

Last week, the raccoons showed up.

- Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.

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