I feel a confession coming on. Maybe it’s good for the soul and maybe it’s this rotten cold and the attendant medications bringing on my need to bare soul about the Shameful Squirrel Saga.
The background: I have bird feeders in my overwhelming kiwi hedge, three of them and a suet feeder. The winter birds love this because they can take cover in the hedge and avoid the high flying hawks and the low walking neighbor cats. I loathe the kiwi hedge and love it at the same time. It grows like Kudzu for the northwest and it would reach right over the front yard and cover the house if I let it. Think slavering rose hedge in Sleeping Beauty. In spring and summer I’m out there with shears on a weekly basis whacking off enormous chunks of it attempting some control. And yes, it does give tiny little kiwis that are sour -sweet and squish mightily in late fall attracting fruit flies.
That being said, it’s a beautiful set of curly vines in the most gorgeous shades of brown in the winter; and in the summer it shades the entire front yard on its quest to eat the telephone pole and the nearby trees.
It’s a bird highway in the winter and we have juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, two kinds of finches, towhees, six kinds of sparrows, wrens, one tiny little yellow guy, a big fat lark that is a robin’s cousin, a raucous pack of blue jays, a solitary mountain jay and various and sundry other visitors that include evil squirrels and nasty starlings. They are such fun to watch out the picture window in the kitchen. Who has a picture window in the kitchen? I do, along with two ‘wing’ windows that open on either side of the big picture. I trade my delight in the window for the fact that I lost an entire wall in the kitchen. It was there when we moved in so we just accept and enjoy it and cope with the lack of counter space.
Watching the squirrels completely destroy the feeders and chase away the birds just fried my hide. “I need a gun”, I said to my husband and he handed me his old his pellet gun. Visions of my childhood with wretched neighbor boys in short pants shooting songbirds danced in my head and I had to ask Terry about his gun toting history. He swears he never shot at a bird and that this just like a beebee gun, it only stings and scares them away.
He shot at a few denizens of the ‘hood to demonstrate which included squirrels and starlings and sure enough they ran away. He showed me how to load the pellet pistol and pump it up three times. I told him I am a really good shot and was he sure about this? Yes, it only stings, I was assured.
The next day: Squirrel! The fluffy-tailed rat was ripping apart the feeder even though squirrel food is provided not two feet away. Gun loaded, window slid open, aim, fire, and I hit the squirrel. It dropped off the feeder like a rock and fell on the ground. Twitching.
Nope, it did not get stung and run away. It lay on the ground and twitched and tried to get up. I felt like I had been sent to the outer circle of hell. I didn’t want to kill anything, I just wanted to sting it and scare it and here I had obviously inflicted mortal damage. I have to confess I was not brave enough to man up Nancy, and go out and finish the job like an Angelina Jolie hit woman of the squirrel world. No, I had to call my husband and have him drive all the way home and put the squirrel out of my misery. When the chips were down I turned into a girl, the kind that jumps on the table squealing when she sees a mouse, sigh…
I don’t shoot at squirrels anymore, nor do I let Terry shoot at squirrels or cats. Pellet guns are not beebee guns; they are really truly guns in a small way. Now I just put more food for the squirrels in their feeder and when they attack the birds’ feeders I yell, “Squirrel!” to Nelly the Rat Terrier who goes baying down the stairs like a Sasquatch is tearing up her yard and she has to take care of business.
I do however take pleasure in shooting nasty starlings. Just call me Acorn Oakley.