Maybe it’s being over 65 that makes me want to protect the birds on my back deck. Or maybe it’s just the American Way of helping the underdog. My wife say I need to get off the Ipad and do something. I do. I exercise my rights to chase squirrels away, and any large bird, or flock of birds, that try to take over.
In the cold Dayton, Ohio winters, I feel a sympathy for the little Dayton Flyers, so I put out a mix of sunflower seed and small bird feed. The bright red cardinals really appreciate it. The little slate coloured junkos and the brown cowbirds hop about and feed with joy.
Everyone is happy until the squirrels come. The problem is that squirrels don’t just come and have a snack, they bring empty shopping bags and seem to think their cheeks also need to be filled to overflowing to return home triumphant. What’s worse; they eat with their mouth open—no manners. Like a teenager, they love to spit everywhere and the deck is becoming an empty-hull factory. When it rains the shells congeal into a toe stubbing mass just in the blind spot in my peripheral vision. Add some snow on top of this trip hazard, a pair of rubber soled slippers, an old guy trying to walk over it carefully, and you get an unplanned dump of bird food—all over the deck—to the squirrels delight.
Most of the time the birds share when they come to feed, and there is a kind of paradise banquet at Miller’s Backyard Birdery Bonanza. But, squirrels are not the only pests; there are bird pests, too, like the large boat tailed grackles. They seem to fly in from nowhere and bring their whole families including; cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, and even some birds that are mostly black but just want to fit in. In all, they are about a thousand strong. Well, according to my wife, it’s closer to 20, but give-or-take 50; they come, and come, and come. When they stop by, the deck changes from calm to a writhing sea of dark, shimmering blue tails, with endless squawking, and beak clicking maneuvers pirates would be proud of. Each one is torn between quickly eating or protecting their private seed stash. Unwanted selections get flicked everywhere.
Fortunately, a stern wrap on the window sends them skyward. However, I have learned that they are persistent and will quickly return. This forces the Protector to appear. He throws open the screen door and runs madly out hollering insane phrases. This gets them to the nearest tree or circling overhead, but only loud, vigorous, and extended clapping will send them winging off to someone else’s feedlot—the noisier the better.
Clapping doesn’t work on all pests, though. That’s why I have my trusty Red Rider BB gun at he ready, too. It’s not for the birds, but those pesky, eat-everything-in-site squirrels, they need a little nudge, from time to time. Reach out and touch someone has a new meaning from my back deck.
My wife thinks I need to quite antagonizing the squirrels. She may be right, too. I got a letter, recently, from our Neighborhood Snitch committee suggesting my behavior was very disturbing to several of the neighbors. My wife said she told me so, “They don’t like your BB gun.”
But I had the last laugh. They could care less about my squirrel control methods. They were tired of some crazy, old guy slamming doors and stomping about his back porch making noise, hollering,”Shoo, Shoo,” and clapping loudly. Apparently, it sets off every dog and cat in a six-block area—just like when a weather calamity is about to hit. Several people have complained they can’t get their wives out of their basements for weeks, because they can’t hear the All Clear signal when underground.
On the positive side, I did get a bottle of wine left on my front porch. The note said, “Thanks! Quietest two weeks of my life.”
NO ANIMALS WERE HURT IN THE WRITING OF THIS POST!