Saturday, February 07, 2009

Stop, thief!

Just before the snowstorms started, I picked up a suet cake for the birds. I'd never fed them suet before, and I didn't have the proper squirrel-proof cage for it. There were none in the store, either, so I made a sort of net bag with kitchen twine and fishing line (for strength and un-rottability), and hung it from a branch of the maple tree. (Laurie pulled the branch down for me with a rake, and I tied it, rather messily. I should have at least used the stepladder.)

The birds discovered it quickly; first the chickadees, then the juncos and house finches. The crumbs fell into the London Pride patch, where more juncos, assorted sparrows, towhees, and even a varied thrush congregated to clean up. Scruffy the squirrel tried to reach it, but the string was just a bit too long for her. By now, they've reduced it to maybe one third of the original size.

Today I had a new visitor, just a bit bigger than Scruffy. And maybe a bit more resourceful. See his strategy:

2:25 The basic toe-hang. "Mmm! Good stuff!"

2:26:41 The stretch and swing.

2:27:01 Bringing the string over the branch, for a shorter swing and a more comfortable position.

2:27:14 I could almost see when the thought crossed his mind, "I should take this one home." He bites the string above the first knot.

2:27:37 "Now, if I yank this hard enough ..." The tug-of-war.

2:27:46 "Maybe if I bite the string here ..." Opening up the net.

2:28:00 Reverse direction and give it a good shaking.

2:28:28 Break time. A quick nibble to build up energy for the next stage. "And, yes, I see that you're watching me, but who cares? You can't climb up here."

2:28:46 Reverse direction again. Start rolling and twisting and tugging. Loosen up the net. Over a minute for this stage.

2:29:59 And now, stretch that string, and YANK!

2:30:28 Success! Entire operation, just over 5 minutes.

The string and branch bounced around, the suet plummetted to the ground. I decided it was time to call a halt. That suet was for the birds.

I stepped out the door; the squirrel stopped on his way down the tree to challenge me.

"That cookie is MINE; I liberated it."

He raced down the trunk and over the garden. But I was faster. After I had gone inside, he came right over to the door to claim his property. Too late.

The suet is up again, tied with wire this time. We'll see what happens tomorrow.



  1. These are great! I have a "thing" for motion shots. The squirrel is beautiful -- can I trade in a couple of fox squirrels for that one?

    I cannot believe how much green you have in the dead of winter. I first thought this was a throwback to summer.

  2. Hi, T.R.,

    Glad you liked the photos. I debated whether to use them because some are blurry; that squirrel kept the whole branch shaking.

    Winters in BC, even a cold one, like we had this year, are green. We just get to stop mowing the lawn and deadheading flowers for a while.

    But the green in those photos is from evergreen trees; the maple branches are still bare.

  3. Too Funny! Aren't squirrels just a hoot?!

    My resident squirrel managed to swing our cage feeder off the stand and started to drag it down one of its snow tunnels before I was able to rescue it. Such a rascal.

  4. Your squirrel is hilarious! Where I live, we only have ground squirrels, so I don't face the challenges that you do when feeding birds.

  5. LOL...what a clever fella...


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