Friday, February 13, 2009

Marauders, Thieves and Pests

I probably should have more charity in my heart about this, but this time of year, my yard here is just overrun by unwelcome "guests." In fact, if I were more aggressive, I could probably load and use one of the guns here. But I don't, I just open the window and yell "SHOOO!" or bang on the glass, or try to encourage the dog, Dakota, to go out and earn her keep....what am I talking about, you ask? Squirrels, rabbits and grackles=marauders, thieves and pests all.

Take the squirrels (please!) One is a pest...between emptying my bird feeders--even chewing them open when possible. Well somehow, one has become FOUR this winter! Yep, two pairs--I thought I was seeing things! For a few months now, I've been mixing lots of cayenne pepper with my sunflower seeds here to discourage them from raiding my bird feeders...and it seemed to be working. Yesterday, I caught them hanging on the feeders again (mind you, these are "squirrel-proof" feeders with big metal cones above them--nothing works to keep them out!) Then I realized that the NEWCOMERS hadn't learned the cayenne lesson yet. Somehow, one had become two had become four…with math like this, I don’t want to think about what kind of multiplying the spring will hold.

Or the rabbits. It never fails: when the deeper snows finally recede, like they did this week, come to find entire shrubs and other foundation plantings have been reduced to....bunny pellets. Yep. They apparently just sit there chewing up my precious plants and turning all that roughage directly into manure, right in my plantings. Now if I could teach them to be more aesthetic with their pruning, I might not mind as much....

Finally, the d___ grackles. They swoop in as huge flocks. They make an entire suet block vanish in a day--food that would last my beloved nuthatches and woodpeckers a couple of weeks. They bully all the little ones away from the sunflower seed feeders. And they won't take no for an answer. Repeated leaning out the windows here, scaring them off--they regroup in one of the trees here, as you can see in the photo, and the minute my guard is down, they all return to finish off anything they can get.

So is there a lesson in all this? Not really any new ones. I do what I can--in fact, I regularly tell all my 'guests' that they are more than welcome to the other 100 acres...just leave my yard alone....but they don't pay attention. So until spring really comes, and natural food returns to our area, I continue my little war here with all the....marauders, thieves and pests.

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