We don’t just feed people here….
We have some bird feeders up in the back yard, and when I’ve got stale bread or cookies or bits of a mostly-eaten peanutbutter and strawberry jam sandwhich, I’ll toss that out to the birds as well. And of course, when you have birds, you get squirrels.
Some people do all they can to prevent the squirrels from hogging all the food, but I don’t really care if they eat some of it – after all, it’s nice to share. At least, that’s what I tell my kids.
And squirrels can be cute. Yes, they can be annoying and destructive and all that. But they can be cute. And my kids get a kick out of them, which is enough for me. Alex has gone so far as to name them. Two names: Squirly and Squirlio. Apparently there were ONLY two squirrels in the neighborhood. They got around a lot, too. I’d be driving the kids somewhere, and we’re way at the far end of our (very long) street, and two squirrels would suddenly dart out in front of the car, chasing each other and totally oblivious to me and my big squirrel-crushing vehicle – and both kids would holler out "Hey! Squirrels!" and Alex would add "It’s Squirly and Squirlio!" And Julia would follow that with "Yeah! Squirly and Squirlio!" Because sometimes older brothers are right about things, and Alex clearly knows his squirrels.
Sometimes we’ll only see one squirrel, and Julia might say "Look! It’s Squirly!" And Alex, years of squirrel wisdom in his voice, corrects her "No, Julia, that’s Squirlio." And Julia will say "Oh…." because really, they look identical. But if Alex says it, then it must be so.
So here we are, back in the yard. And this past weekend, Alex asked if I would buy some squirrel nuts when I went to the grocery store. (Squirrel nuts? Didn’t know there was a market for such things…hahaha) So I bought a big bag of peanuts in the shell so that Squirly and Squirlio will survive the winter.
I’ve wanted to start feeding birds in our front yard because we have a great view of things from our big front window. There’s really no good view of the back yard feeder activity, unless you’re standing at the sink doing the dishes. Mainly, I wanted the kids to be able to watch the birds. Bill gave me a bell-shaped feeder – bird seed molded into the shape of a bell – and I hung that from a branch of our spindly maple tree, hoping to get the birds to visit the front yard for a change. The bell hung there for several days with no visitors. I thought maybe the peanuts would help. Because maybe if the squirrels were eating in the front, then the birds might decide to check out the new place in town, and eventually we’d have cardinals and chickadees and junkos and everyone else congregating in the front yard where my kids could watch them and learn about birds, much like I did when I was a kid.
So Saturday, I put peanuts and seed out for the squirrels (and maybe birds). The bell-shaped feeder was still there, just hanging there, no sign that any birds had taken an interest.
On Sunday morning, I put some seed out, and looked over, out of habit, to where the feeder hung. And it was gone. Gone. I think my mouth opened in surprise. I looked on the ground (nope) and at the neighbors’ yards (nope) and at the yards across the steet (nope). Even the wire it had hung from was gone. Ah well. Someone was having a feast.
Later in the day on Sunday, my kids were squabbling over something, so I asked if they wanted to put peanuts out for the squirrels. Immediately the fighting stopped (yay for distraction!) and so I filled up a couple of small plastic bowls with nuts and sent the kids outside….
Here they go, on their mission….
Suddenly Alex spots movement in the neighbor’s tree…it’s Squirly and Squirlio!
So the kids call to the squirrels, trying to entice them with the peanuts…
I suggested that Squirly and Squirlio might be a little shy, but they were watching, so maybe if you put the peanuts out for them and go back in the house to watch, maybe they’d be brave enough to come over for a snack.
So they went back to the feeding station and started setting out the peanutes…
Now, Alex, the oldest, had very definite ideas about how the peanuts should be set out for the squirrels. And Julia, who ignores her brother whenever it suits her, actually did as she was told and placed one peanut on each of the stone bricks.
Of course, they had way more peanuts than bricks, so they ended up piling the nuts at the two ends.
And then we all scurried back into the house to watch.
Actually, only Alex watched initially. Julia was worn out and chose to watch Lion King downstairs instead.
It took a bit of waiting, but we were eventually rewarded…one of them – Squirly or Squirlio – I can’t tell them apart – Alex says it was Squirly, so I guess I’ll have to take his word for it – crept over to check things out….
"If I just stand here like this, no one will notice me…"
But eventually, he grew brave and started testing the waters. He’s scoot over, take a peanut, and then dash away to bury it somewhere convenient, like right by the side of the road in front of a neighbor’s house. Then he’d scamper back for another one. Eventually Squirlio joined him.
And so did some junkos…
And Alex hollered for Julia to COME AND SEE!!!!
And everyone was well fed and happy. The End.