For several years now, we’ve been feeding the birds year round. And, there have been definite rewards to doing that. My kids can identify many more birds than I ever could at their age. And, the feeders, which hang outside our dining room, have provided us with endless entertainment. Our pets, too, have loved having the wildlife so tantalizingly close. Particularly Manny.
But all of this has come at a price.
For one thing, bird seed isn’t cheap. Especially if you’re buying the “no mess” kind that is supposed to be a better buy anyway because it is pure feed and not just a lot of hulls and shells.
And then there is the wear and tear on the house.
This is what the squirrels have done to our screen. The birds (you wouldn’t believe what messy eaters they are!) dropped seeds into the niche between the window and the screen. Then the squirrels (probably on a day I didn’t fill the feeders), tore the screen open to get at the seed.
Yes, that squirrel is sitting between the screen and the window. At one point, he forgot how he’d gotten in there and ran circles trying to figure out how to get out. Manny loved it.
Meanwhile, at the back of the house, we’ve had a woodpecker visiting. See that little hole in the wooden square? It’s about the size of a quarter now.
The woodpecker has been popping in at various times all week. Whenever CPT A catches him, the woodpecker boldly eyes CPT A through the hole, then flies away.
Now that’s cheek!
It makes me think of a story my uncle told of a squirrel caught visiting an office in the Idaho State Capitol Building. Everyone thought it was adorable until the squirrel peed on one of the computer keyboards. Animals can be incredibly destructive.
So what’s the answer?
I think for us, the answer begins with reducing the number of feeders we have. I do feel a bit of a pang, thinking about all the birds they attract, but then I think of the squirrels, who always take over the feeders anyway, and that pang goes away.
Long term, I’m toying with the idea of replacing our current “dog garden” with a wildlife garden – an area with trees and shrubs, designed to feed the birds with something other than bags of birdseed. Maybe it will also keep them a bit farther away from the house. Our screens and walls will thank us, I’m sure, and the entire project will give me something interesting to contemplate over the winter. Whatever we decide, it will definitely involve a reduction in the bird seed bill!
From the dining room table, wishing I’d kept a running total of the amount we’ve spent on birdseed over the past year (though maybe it would just make me cry),