Christmas Present

I have talked a lot about presents recently, but I haven’t yet told you about the gift that Peter recently received…a gift that keeps on giving.

You may recall reading about our ongoing battle with the squirrels in our back yard. I’ve written before about Peter’s Herculean efforts to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeder, to no avail. I was really worried that he might be ready to get out his slingshot.

Our bird feeder was an eclectic one – a wooden device on a home-made platform on a pole. It wasn’t beautiful but the birds didn’t seem to mind. They gathered in groups, according to their pecking order; cardinals, jays and sparrows, all having a feast. The squirrels didn’t mind either and would scurry up the pole and onto the platform where they would eat their fill, and then hop off, leaving the feeder empty.

Peter tried valiantly to keep the squirrels away, He got a baffle for the pole but the squirrels figured out how to climb around it. Then he tried lowering the baffle. The squirrels began taking flying leaps from the swing, so he moved the feeder farther out into the back yard. Then they began flying from the magnolia tree, so he moved the feeder again. After they conquered that leap, he greased the pole and lowered he baffle even more. Those clever rodents even navigated the greased pole and the baffle, where they sat on top and reached up overhead to grab the platform and climb up. Peter was apoplectic.

As a last resort, I consulted the internet. And there, at Lee Valley, was the perfect bird feeder – “Squirrel resistant”! As Christmas was almost here, I ordered the feeder and it arrived just a few days ago. Peter was skeptical. How could any bird feeder possibly work, after all the deterrents he had tried? He set up the feeder anyway, on the pole, and admired the concept – the birds were supposed to sit on a bar and reach into the feeder for the seeds. But, if a squirrel sat on the bar, its weight would push the bar down and a little metal plate would also come down and cover up the bird food. A great idea, in principle.

Peter set up the pole, filled the new feeder with high-quality bird food, and we sat down near the window to watch. Soon a curious squirrel came by, and climbed up the pole to take a look. He jumped on the bar and “wham!” the plate slammed down and covered up the seeds. The squirrel lept down and ran away into the neighbour’s lot. We were delighted!

But where were the birds? We reasoned that they needed a few hours to find the new feeder and discover its contents. So we waited. And waited. NO birds arrived. Peter found an old feeder we had in storage, and he put it on top of the new one. Maybe the birds would recognize it and then notice the new one down below. Nope – nothing. What good was a bird feeder without birds?

We were contemplating another trip to Lee Valley to return the new feeder when suddenly – a cardinal landed. And he ate some seeds! Then his wife joined him. But nobody else. We held our breath. The next day we checked but it was snowing and no birds were flying. We waited some more. And then, like a Christmas gift, the birds came. Sparrows and jays joined the cardinals. And the squirrels looked up with envy.

I can also report that occasionally the squirrels still try to outsmart the feeder. They climb up, check the bottom of the feeder for holes, and sometimes even try to pry off the roof. Then they jump down, shaking their little heads in confusion.

May you find a useful gift in your Christmas stocking too.


The cardinal arrives!
The squirrel is not giving up!

3 thoughts on “Christmas Present

  1. What a clever device! Gary was given a bird feeder that had been custom built to look like the garden shed it was going beside. His squirrels weren’t satisfied with eating the feed, they ate a bunch of the bird house as well. At least your squirrels were well behaved.


  2. This is a delightful story. You kept me wanting to know what happened next and I’m glad the outcome was perfect. Great Christmas gift for all, except the squirrels.


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