Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

If You Can't Beat Them, Feed Them Peanuts

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

If You Can't Beat Them, Feed Them Peanuts

Article excerpt

Last month I threw out the last bird feeder. It had been destroyed beyond repair. No sense calling a handyman: I'm sure I could feed birds for a year for what it'd cost to devise something squirrel-proof - if there is such a thing.

But through four wonderful New England seasons, a variety of birds have come to depend on seed daily, and I don't have the heart or desire to send them elsewhere. So now I dribble seed along my deck railing - birds love to perch there anyway. The squirrels, of course are delighted. They no longer need to take risky flying leaps, grapple with feeders, or hang by their toes.

One morning I looked out my kitchen window and observed a squirrel splayed on his belly atop the railing like a surfer paddling his board. "You certainly seem to feel at home," I mumbled. He looked awfully cute, with his healthy chestnut-brown coat and bushy tail; a young squirrel in his first summer, perhaps.

So on the next trip to the nature store, I glanced at a bag of peanuts, packaged for people like myself who have given in. I plopped down $7.29. "He'll have to sing for his supper," I resolved.

That afternoon I spied him on the deck and grabbed a peanut. The other squirrels fled, but this little guy hung around. I cautiously placed the nut on the railing six feet from him and stepped back. He was ecstatic. He grabbed it and ran for - I presumed - his tree, to tuck it away.

Moments later, he returned. OK, one more. I came out with a few in my pocket, just in case. I rolled one across the deck; he quickly intercepted it and took off - and was back in a flash. Each time he inched a bit closer.

By sunset, we were pretty good friends. No longer apprehensive, I sat relaxed in a chair, tossing an occasional peanut, laughing at the squirrel's antics.

Then, suddenly, he made a beeline for my feet. Startled, I screamed and jumped up on the chair. My reaction frightened him, and he fled. But in a few moments he slunk his way back up the stairs, only to dart for my feet again. Grabbing a broom, I swished it to frighten him off while I scrambled inside. But fear would not have the last word. Taking a deep breath I went back outside, bristly weapon in hand, to reason with him. …

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