With sufficient centrifugal force, any squirrel can become a flying squirrel. Allow me to explain.
I have been working from home for several years. When I first setup my desk near the window, I decided to get a bird feeder so I could observe nature throughout the day.
The gratification was almost immediate. Once I filled a hanging wooden feeder purchased at the hardware store with seeds, cardinals, chickadees, finches, grosbeaks, woodpeckers and blue jays all stopped by for a bite to eat. It was exciting to see the bright-colored creatures visit the yard and pick at the mixture I put out for them.
Before long, a gang of rogue squirrels learned about free snack program at Casa Albury and crashed the party. At first, my attitude was, “the more the merrier,” and I welcomed the bushy-tailed, boisterous animals to the get-together. Regrettably, the squirrels turned out to be the type of uninvited guests you always fear. They were pushy, overbearing and ate all the food. Soon my feathered friends flapped their wings and headed for other, more bird-friendly feeding areas.
Each morning, I continued to fill the feeder with the hope of giving the birds a shot at the seeds before the squirrels woke up, had their coffee, and arrived to pilfer the food. And arrive they did. On a daily basis. It would not be an exaggeration to say I began to despise the gluttonous, overbearing critters.
I didn’t realize how transparent my feelings were concerning the vile vermin marauders until Christmas, when Kathy gave me a large, wrapped box. “You are always talking about the squirrels taking over the feeder,” she said. “This should solve your problem.”
When I opened the present, I found a deluxe bird feeder called the Yankee Flipper Seed Feeder. The device consists of an approximately 2-foot-tall plastic cylinder. You put the seeds in the top and snap on the lid. On the bottom of the tube is a round wire platform for the birds to perch on while eating from four strategically-placed holes. The platform supports the weight of a light bird; however, if a heavier squirrel lands on it, a battery power source is activated, and the platform spins, tossing the pesky mammal from the feeder.
The idea of scheming squirrels flying around my yard like planes at an airport filled my heart with inexplicable joy. I was so excited, I charged the battery, hung the feeder on the tree outside my office, and sat at my desk in anticipation of the pending action. I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. Unfortunately, no squirrels or even birds came to the feeder. Depressed, I went to the other room, looked out a different window towards my neighbor’s house, and discovered why my feeder wasn’t being utilized.
My neighbor has a platform the size of a vacation house diving raft which he loads with bird feed and hoists into a tree with chains. Sure enough, every bird and squirrel in central Vermont had congregated on his massive feeder to laugh, peep, chirp and have a grand old time, gorging on food and throwing seeds in the air like it was some kind of massive woodlands wedding.
I knew what I had to do.
The next morning, I went to the store, got premium black oil sunflower seeds – the caviar of the Audubon set – and liberally sprinkled them under my feeder to “prime the pump.” Sure enough, word got out about the fine cuisine offered at my place, and visitors started to drift over from the party next door. Once the seeds on the ground were gone, the birds progressed to the feeder. Things were going as planned.
Sure enough, before long, several squirrels stopped by. At first, they would climb the tree to where the old feeder used to hang and sit on the branch with a confused expression, oblivious to the fact there was another feeder literally 5 feet away on a nearby branch. It became apparent why you don’t see many squirrels entered in chess competitions; clearly, these particular animals were a couple acorns short of an oak tree. I found myself yelling encouragement from inside the house. “The other branch! The other branch!” And pointing to the feeder.
Eventually, after days of pleading and cajoling on my part, one of the squirrels decided to try his luck at the new feeder. The anticipation just about killed me.
He climbed on top of the device, carefully wrapped his little front legs around the feeder, and shimmied his way down to the platform.
One Yankee Flipper bird feeder: $125.
One 10-pound bag of Premium Black Oil Sunflower seeds: $13.99
The surprised look on that squirrel’s furry face as he flew by my window: Priceless.
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.