November 26, 2012

Backyard Entertainment

     It is pretty much common knowledge that I am easy to entertain.  Just this past week I have spent more time than I'd like to admit sitting out back giggling to myself or anyone nearby... OK usually to myself.  Between the dogs, birds and squirrels it has been a nature channel comedy zone.
     We love feeding birds and have quite the buffet offering for them in the backyard.  Our feeding station includes various styles of feeders so birds of all sizes can partake.  We also try to offer different seeds throughout the year.  Upon first setting up our system we put a baffle on both the top and the bottom to stop the squirrels from raiding the feeder.  We very quickly learned that the squirrels in our yard were members of the local gymnastic team and could leap and twist their bodies across amazing distances (3 feet) to out-maneuver the baffle.  In response we trimmed the trees and bushes nearby thus ending our sponsoring the local gymnastic tournament.
Sunflower after having a few visitors
The corn far away from birdfeeders
     Things were fine until this year.  I do think it is my fault because I upped the ante.  Recently I spent the weekend in Helen, Georgia and while visiting a farm-stand I bought dried sunflowers to hang for the birds AND feeder corn cobs for the squirrels.   However my generosity was short lived and the squirrels decided that they didn't want no stinking dried corn.  OH NO they wanted the sun flowers. I have since learned that squirrels not only enjoy the seeds but the entire flower head as well. One squirrel in particular was extremely determined to enjoy all that the sunflower had to offer.   I didn't really mind but just couldn't figure out how the squirrels were getting to it.  So I sat and waited for their return ~ that's right I stalked a squirrel. And I'm so glad I did.
   

     This squirrel, whom I nick-named Nadia, made my day.  She had me laughing so much I really didn't care that she was eating my sunflower.  The maneuvers she went through to eat that flower were nothing short of amazing.  I knew how smart these animals were but I never really gave much thought to their problem solving skills.  The suet feeder you see her straddling was her first obstacle.  It kept spinning around and flipping her off (which I wish I had a picture of b/c that was hilarious) every time she was about to get situated.  After about 4-5 times of this happening she took a different approach.  Now my crew says it just happened but I'm believing Nadia figured this out.  She landed on the top of the suet cage and kept walking on it, like a clown walking on a ball, until it locked in place.  Once she had that handled she began swinging to reach the flower.  It only took her a few failed attempts of trying to grab the flower before she switched gears and swung out for the hook that it was attached to.  While she's eating, bits and pieces are falling to the ground.  Within minutes birds are happy eating at the droppings which doesn't seem to bother Nadia until another squirrel starts joining in.  Nadia, it turns out, doesn't like sharing.  She first started barking at her unwanted dinner guest.  When that proved inefficient she jumped down then chased the other squirrel away.  Nadia returned within a few minutes and was happily eating away at the sunflower when with no notice the two of them crashed onto the ground.  It seems that Nadia had been eating away where the sunflower was connected to the hook ~ whoops.  Once the flower was on the ground she was not going to share it with anyone and even chased some hungry birds away.  I can only guess that she thought it would be better to take the flower home to explain what happened next.  Nadia started dragging the entire flower into the bushes, or as we call it ~ The Jungle of Elephant Ears.  I thought she'd just hide out and eat the flower in there.  Well if I didn't see it myself and have the pictures to prove it I'd never believe what she did next.
Nadia carried the sunflower up the tree.                                                                    
So yes I spent probably 30 minutes staring out of my dining room window watching this crazy squirrel and I'm proud of it.  Who needs cable TV when you have critters like this in the backyard?Have I told you we have crazy chickens? 

   
   
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