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RUNNING INTERFERENCE
By Barbara Sanders

Hindrances come and hindrances go, but how many times do you have to run interference for the birds you are feeding in your back yard?

Oh, we had this wonderful idea to put up bird feeders in our backyard, which was encouraged by fellow bird watchers and friends. My husband also ventured out and put up some new birdhouses, something he had not done in years. And, all in all, it's been wonderful. We've seen so many different birds from regular house finches to blue grossbeaks, mourning doves to cardinals, and all the ones in between. We've attracted the beautiful brown-headed nuthatch, redheaded woodpecker, along with the towhee. But the one I like the most is the indigo bunting, a bird I had never seen or heard of, until we started feeding the birds last fall. They aren't that numerous, but, when they come, we really enjoy seeing them. The blue grossbeak and the indigo bunting are two beautiful birds.

Well, with all these species of birds, there had to be a downfall in our bird watching. Little did we know that there would come another bird to take away the pleasure of bird watching. Ever think you would get tired of a bird? Well, I'm here to say that it has certainly happened with the brown-headed cowbird. There are so many, male and female, at times, that you can hardly see anything else in the feeders. The goldfinches, which used to be very numerous, have slacked off. We aren't quite sure if the cowbirds are the problem, or perhaps it's only the time of the season for them to be away. But, it is very upsetting to see so many birds, and then, all of sudden, there aren't many.

But, the one downfall has been the attraction of the feeders to the squirrels! Now, the squirrels have not been unnoticed in our feeding attempts. Special feeders were put up for the squirrels. In fact, on the humerous side, our grandson insisted that one have a sign put on it, which reads, ' For Squirrels Only'. Well, we know the squirrels can't read, but, hey, this is a child! It does make for a great conversation piece. This aside, the squirrels can't read, so they don't realize the seed in the feeders is bird feed, and the other feeders are theirs.

Doesn't matter what you try, the squirrels will out smart you! So, out come the baffles - running interference. The baffle has been in place several weeks below our two main big bird feeders. For weeks, the squirrels were truly baffled, in that one would go up under the baffle, feel around, and realize it couldn't make it to the feeder. But, a few days ago, we saw something we thought was history - a squirrel in one of those feeders! So, my husband watched to see how this squirrel got over the hurdle of that wire baffle! Well, he's smart, and no doubt he'll teach the others his trick! He felt around until he realized he could jump far enough out to get those paws in the edge, hang on, and crawl on top! Whammo…. he's on top and in the feeders again. Again today, we found him happily feeding that face with the bird feed. No doubt he will be back, but we will run interference - not the baffle type, but the 'out the door', 'snap the fingers', and perhaps the water hose, to discourage that squirrel from that unexceptable behavior!

©Copyright June 24, 2001 by Barbara Sanders. All rights reserved. Do not copy.


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