"Feed Birds. Foil Squirrels."
The Cedar Waxwing
--The Gospel According To My Father
It has been a busy couple of days in The Goddess' Garden, as we prepare for the long, cold winter ahead.
The swimming pool has been covered up with a big blanket, and "put to bed" until spring, and all the patio furniture has been cleaned and put away.
Last night was our chilliest of the autumn so far, and the girlies and I awoke to find that a hard frost had hit all of our plants. This week's task will be to cut back perennials, pull out wilted annuals, prune the roses back, and dig an extra heaping mound of earth around all tender root systems.
And, of course, we will be replenishing all the birdfeeders.
For several years now, I have kept no fewer than about six or seven bird feeders and suet logs, fully stocked, year-round and dotted around The Garden. As a result, birds have literally flocked to us. It has been truly delightful to host these beautiful feathered creatures, and we have had the great pleasure to discover that many of them have taken up permanent residence in our trees. Every spring, we hear the sweet "Wheekey!! Wheekey!!" of a new nest of baby Chickadees in one of the pines. And this year, a pair of Northern Cardinals brought their fledgling to the maple tree by our large feeder. The baby would sit on a branch, and the parents would take turns fetching safflower seeds, cracking them between their toes before poking pieces into their offspring's gaping beak.
Yes, we like to keep our birds happy and fattened-up, but as a result of our efforts, we also tend to attract a great deal of squirrels to the feeders, as well.
Many months ago, I wrote of last fall's experience with the neighbourhood squirrels, and this year, the battle continues. Joining the squirrel batallion this year is a small, explosive red squirrel, who is more agile and acrobatic than any of his black or grey counterparts. Indeed, he is so light and quick, he defies the very lightest setting on my squirrel-proof feeder, and can foil any Yankee Flipper that I dangle from a tree with "invisible" fishing line... Yes, this squirrel is the MOST fearless, ingenius and INFURIATING rodent I have ever had the displeasure to deal with. And the biggest problem is, he's so dang CUTE up there, flying through the air with the grace and ballon of a nouveau Baryshnikov... I just don't have the guts to get all sinister and serious about evicting him.
So, it looks as though I'm going to be going through a LOT of seed this winter as a result...
Here are a few of the more welcome guests at the Goddess' Chateaux Oiseaux:
The Cedar Waxwing
The Northern Cardinal
The Blue Jay
The Downy Woodpecker
The Rose Breasted Nuthatch
The Dark-eyed Junko
The Gold Finch
The House Finch
The Purple Finch
The Chipping Sparrow
The White Crowned Sparrow
The American Robin
(Yes, a few are crazy enough to stick around here year-round, in spite of the cold weather... Too lazy to fly south, I suppose.
But they DO look gorgeous against the snow, and it makes my heart feel a bit lighter every time I see one...)
And, shocker of shockers, LOOK WHO SWOOPED IN FOR A SURPRISE VISIT ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON?
This, folks, is a Peregrine Falcon. Peregrine Falcons are not supposed to be indiginous to our area, but according to my father, they are currently migrating, and making a comeback in some cities in Ontario (and in some small towns, too, apparently...)
I was not half as shocked to make his acquaintance as a particularly unfortunate sparrow was... One poor feathered soul at the feeder became FOOD for this enormous, magnificent creature, who then proceeded to sit in a maple tree and blink at me, apparently tremendously satisfied with himself.
Perry, it was a pleasure to welcome you to my garden... But can I ask you a favour?
Next time you visit, would you mind making sure that Red Squirrel is on the menu that day?
The other birds and I would all be most grateful.