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March 6, 2012 > Pat Kite's Garden: Squirrel depart... please

Pat Kite's Garden: Squirrel depart... please

By Pat Kite

Squirrel is eating my bird food again.

I have seven bird feeders. Squirrel hits one in the morning, another afternoon, and then does an early evening dinner check. Black oil sunflower seed is expensive.

I have asked Squirrel, politely, to cease and desist. Between meals, he perches high on my old apple tree and chitter-chatters scorn at my dogs. They, of course, are barking at him. Yap, yap. All this, I can somewhat tolerate. But I informed Squirrel, in no uncertain terms, that the next time he brought a lady friend along for snacks, I was going to find squirrel-proof something's.

Yesterday, demonstrating his opinion of my opinion, Squirrel was fornicating with spouse on a fence adjacent to a bird feeder. Having asked assorted bird people how to deter squirrels, the answer has always been, in a nutshell, "You can't." Apparently squirrels are quite clever and will figure a way, even hanging from their cute little toes, upside and sidewise, to eat bird food.

The Internet offers several types of "squirrel-proof feeders." Prices range from $28 to "as low as $99.99." Reviews quite vary, including a couple mentioning how squirrels have nibbled through preventative feeder parts. There are 365 squirrel types, or species, throughout the world. Grey squirrels are the most common tree squirrels. Their history has been traced back 50 million years. The name squirrel comes from two Greek words, "skia" meaning shade, and "oura" meaning tail. Translation is "he sits in the shade of his own tail."

We often see squished squirrels on roadways. Since squirrels are clever, why the carrion? Apparently when crossing a street, it attempts to confuse an oncoming car. So instead of prancing straight ahead, it changes direction. Alas, poor squirrel, I probably knew him well.

There is an old superstition that anyone who shoots a squirrel will have bad luck and lose his hunting skill. Where did that come from? According to legend, apparently squirrel saw Adam and Eve nibbling Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden. This horrified squirrel, as it was against God's laws. So squirrel drew his tail, which was, at the time, small and thin, across his eyes so it wouldn't have to watch. As a reward, squirrel got his now brushy tail, as did all offspring from then on.

Speaking of offspring, baby squirrels appear in the spring. There are usually four to a nest. Each is about an inch long, one ounce, and hairless. They are, of course, so adorable. Adult squirrels eat about a pound of food per week. I buy birdseed by the 40-pound sack. That leaves some for the birds... usually.

Spring is here! Happy day.

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