Maria VanTrapp may have had sounds of music in her hills, but here in my backyard, the trees are alive with the sound of the music of the birds.
Right now I see red birds perched in a tree void of its leaves after winter’s hibernation, creating an artistic picture. A flock of birds playing chase overhead from one tree to another sound like school children laughing while playing a game of “Chase”. Blue jays and doves are also among the mockingbirds flying in and out of the branches singing as they flitter about. Amid the cacophony of chainsaws, lawnmowers, garbage trucks and other neighborhood sounds, the birdies sing loud and joyful.
Yesterday, I removed a small bird feeder from a tall backyard tree to refill it with seeds. My husband hung it up last summer attaching it high onto the trunk as the tree had no sturdy branches from which to hang it. He had to wrap a chain around the trunk in order to hold an old camp lantern hanger we used to hang a large s-hook for the bird-feeder. That worked pretty well for the feeder to hang, but it presented an unforeseen problem. Since there were no long limbs out from the tree trunk, at a height we could reach, the placement proved to be an ideal spot for three hungry, greedy squirrels to fill up on birdseed. The birds were not wanting to share with the squirrels and stayed away. So, I watched those three rodents everyday for about 3 days, clean out the feeder and then lay belly-down on the ground too stuffed to move. They were funny to watch, but I knew if I refilled the bird-feeder they would again empty it leaving none for the birds. After all, I had put the bird-feeder up for the many birds we have in our trees. Until I could decide how to change the location, it remained empty for a season.
As I was not able to easily get the feeder down to refill it, I was determined to try. As I’ve already written, I am short, a bit chubby and even with a ladder, a bit doddery attempting to reach the hanger. With my husband at work, I was determined and managed to climb up just enough to reach the feeder and get it off the hanger. Next, since I barely got the feeder down off the hanger, I opted to hang the feeder from a lower limb. The fragile limb was just out of reach, I thought, for the squirrels. I moved back to the patio by the house and watched one tiny chickadee zip to the feeder like a drive-by pausing for a moment on the tray of seeds. Then, the squirrel noticed the feeder.
Before putting up the bird-feeder last summer I initially read a few online articles about bird-feeders and where best to place them. It also told how to attract the birds. One article said that if you sprinkle a little bird seed on the ground below the feeder, it would attract the birds. So, that is what I did yesterday when I hung the loaded feeder back onto the limb. Sure enough, it got attention, but not from the birds. Instead, a chubby squirrel had found the seed and was scavenging for his breakfast on the ground this morning. Then, the rascal noticed the feeder up above and proceeded to scamper up the trunk and out on the shaky branch where the feeder hung. As I sat quietly watching, I wondered if he would figure out how to get to his booty since the feeder hung away from the tree trunk.
First, you should know that the small feeder has a sort of roof that covers the container and seeds spill out to the tray below the container. The roof covers the seeds and in a small way, is supposed to deter squirrels. Although, that pesky squirrel would not be hampered by the likes of the contraption and continued to study the situation carefully. After much inspection of the hanger and the feeder down below it, he decided to descend the large s-hook from which the cord of the feeder hung. Mind you, the feeder itself was a long stretch from the trunk for a little squirrel to reach. He would not be able to stretch to the feeder while hanging onto the tree trunk. So, as he sat on the limb above the feeder looking down at the s-hook,what he decided to do next was as funny as any slapstick comedy on stage. That critter reached headfirst from the limb holding onto the S-hook while descending the cord to the feeder’s rooftop. Now, completely off the limb, sitting atop the feeder, he had to figure out how to get to the food.
My cat, Homer, and I sat quietly on the patio by the house watching this scene play out. The chubby squirrel, now swaying about on top of the feeder, is peering over the roof’s edge trying to decide how to get to the seed. What would he do? If he put his feet on the seed tray he will surely off-balance it and fall off. However, the squirrel was a determined little fellow for sure, and that was exactly what he did. Grabbing the cord of the feeder hanging from the s-hook, he descended the cord to the feeder’s rooftop. He toppled a bit and almost fell off, but he was able to pull himself back to the roof top avoiding a crash to the ground below. Then, it happened, once too many times of twisting around, peering off the edge and getting off balance, the cord hanging from the hook snapped! Both the feeder along with the squirrel went tumbling to the ground leaving the feeder upside down spilled birdseed on the ground. Fortunately for the squirrel, he was able to run back up the tree trunk to safety. Unfortunately, he was too shaken to get more of his breakfast and left the scene.
Next, I walked out to the tree to look at the condition of the feeder. I saw the squirrel watching me from a safe height in the tree. After picking the thing up, I noticed the cord was torn apart no doubt from the weight of the squirrel. Examining it closer I saw that the cord was attached to a toggle holding the lid on. A knot in the cord under the hole was not allowing the cord to move up or down and the torn end of the cord was too short to tie it to the other end. Try as I did, I could not get the knot up through the hole without cutting the cord. The toggle became useless at that point so cut it off and I threw it away. Eventually, I was able to place the lid back on the feeder and simple tie off the loose ends of the cord leaving a loop to rehang the feeder on the s-hook with the lid simply sitting atop the roof.
This time I relocated the feeder to a different tree away from our mischievous squirrel. That was when I noticed the birds began to sing as if sending messages to each other. I am sure they were saying things like, “Hey, there is food in this tree!” Or “How can we get that food, I want some!” Like I said earlier, I am short and also, a big chubby with stiff knee joints. So, again, the feeder hangs on a frail limb out of Squirrel’s reach, but a bit too low for the birds to feel safe. While I see them inspecting the feeder, they have not tried to get any food yet. Perhaps later I can fix that for them.
The upshot of this whole situation is I must get a more squirrel-proof bird-feeder off the ground and under trees if the birds are going to enjoy the food. I suppose that will be my next backyard project. I really enjoy the birds and after all my trees are alive with the sounds of music, birds’ music, that is.