Saturday, July 19, 2008

How to Foil Enemy #1

I did it.

After years, and years, and YEARS of trying... and of UNINTENTIONALLY "feeding" this neighbourhood's rodent-population-of-the-squirrel-variety... I have FINALLY figured out a way to keep them out of my yard.

Yesterday, I had my laptop out in the garden, so I could do a little writing while the girlies were playing in the sandbox.

I sat peacefully on my patio, not ten inches from our main "squirrel-proof" bird feeder. (Um, yeah. That is to say: the bird feeder that I spent SIXTY DOLLARS on, because it has a weight-sensitive trap-door mechanism, that lowers whenever anything heavy lands on the perch... Needless to say, the manufacturers have not attempted to weigh my death-defying, wildly acrobatic Red Squirrel Bandit. Dude is BONELESS, I swear, and weighs less than the average sparrow... Until he has successfully emptied the contents of the aforementioned bird feeder into his stomach, that is...)

There I sat, typing away, pausing every few moments to "gently remind" my youngest child to turn off the hose... now... before it floods the ENTIRE backyard, not to mention our basement...

When who should shimmy up the bird feeder pole but The Red Bandit. I stopped in mid-shout, to turn my head and gaze incredulously into his beady little eyes... Clearly, this was a rodent who was well and truly OVER his "fear" of me.

After a few minutes, I abandoned the stare-off, sighed heavily, and made a mental note that ANOTHER econo-sized bag of bird seed would need to be added to this week's grocery list. As I returned to my work, I could hear the little fecker madly crunching away behind me... and it was all I could do do squelch my murderous instincts, and instead try to concentrate on the topic of the day: Great Horned Owls.

Twenty minutes later, the post was finally finished, but even as I pushed the "Publish" button, it was clear that Red's appetite for seeds was insatiable. I remember thinking that surely he MUST have eaten the equivalent of his entire body weight, three times over, in just one "sitting". Surely, AT SOME POINT, the bird feeder's weight sensor would kick in, the buffet door would come clanging down, and Big Red would have to make one of his Baryshnikov-like leaps to save himself from hitting the ground.

I clicked the "View Blog" button, to proof-read my work one last time, and check to be sure that all of my audio players were working properly... and forgot to first check the volume of my laptop's speakers.

Oh, Happy Day!

Because, it turns out that there is NO greater squirrel-deterrent more fast-acting and effective than THE CALL OF THE GREAT HORNED OWL, played at top-volume, at mid-day: a time when most little rodents of the non-nocturnal variety are feeling a little bit too bold and "relaxed" about their personal safety.

The vigour and vim with which The Red Bandit bolted off of that bird feeder shocked even ME. He positively bounced off of the back fence, he was in such a hurry to hide himself.

And blissfully, I haven't seen him since.

It's been nearly 24 hours, now. And I'm seriously considering placing little hidden speakers all over my garden, so that I can project a looped-version of the owl call at strategic times... Like, for instance, just after I've re-planted all my bulbs in the fall. Hell, maybe I'll even put a few speakers up in the attic this winter, too.

And if I'm very, very lucky, maybe a REAL owl will hear the recording, and interpret it as an invitation to take up permanent residence with us...

Because that would be the BEST protection of all against the *&%$@! Red Bandit.


ewe are here said...

The recorded sound of an owl. Now THAT is funny!

I won't mention that I used to make little tiny peanut butter sandwiches for the little buggers and put them on fences. Ramekin used to LOVE to watch them when he was little. ;-)

Leeann said...

I miss squirrels! We had a lot back east, but here in the desert...I rarely see them, unless I'm up in the mountains.
They're sooo cute!
Any hungry...apparently.

mrinz said...

Thats brilliant!

But - we don't have squirrels here and they look so cute!

Do people put out feeders just for them? Or are they not desirable to encourage into the garden? What damage do they do apart from eating bird food?

Karly said...

Ha! That's hilarious. I think squirrels are cute, but then again they aren't eating all my bird seed. :)

Candygirlflies said...

Okay. The Red Bandit IS CUTE. I will give him that...

But squirrels can be highly destructive creatures. They are capable of setting up residence in one's attic (or other good hiding places), and can do major damage by chewing wood, drywall and even electrical wires (fire hazard!! And I imagine, the only thing less appetizing than the smell of dead squirrel is FRIED SQUIRREL).

As well as noshing on all of our bird feeders (many of which have been broken open, by falling out of the trees... even when I suspend them from wires and metal pole-hooks), they have found many plants in my garden to be delicious. Mostly bulbs, and flowers springing from bulbs (read: tulips. YUM. But, interestingly, for one bite only. They love to snap the flower off of the top of the stem, and leave the rest of the plant. Growl.)

They have begun digging in certain parts of my garden, too-- shallow wells, in which they have little "dirt baths". But, the holes are just deep enough to disrupt the surrounding plants' root structures.

Some people I know capture squirrels in "humane traps", then drive them off to wildlife conservation areas, and set them free... Thankfully, with my newly-discovered owl-call "weapon", I haven't quite reached that point.


xo CGF

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