A miniature, natural freak show exists just outside the window in front of my desk. Every single day, rain or snow or shine, squirrels exhibit their squirrely lifestyle behavior. Most of the time, I notice the activity that takes place in the yard across the street because of the viewing angles the window allows while I’m seated.
I used to feed the squirrels that came into my own yard. Each morning I placed a cob of field corn onto a makeshift tree feeder and watched through a different window as the little munchkins chowed down. The viewing was quite entertaining and educational. I learned a lot about squirrel behavior and that there is some sort of squirrel social hierarchy regarding feeding habits.
One day, as I drove the car into the driveway after running a shopping errand, I noticed a squirrel hogging the dry cat food from the bowl reserved for a stray cat I liked to feed. To avoid unpleasant encounters between the cat and the squirrel, I decided to feed the cat only at those times he usually showed up.
The area squirrels crossed the line from cuteness to peskiness one week a few years ago. A couple of them started gnawing on the wooden threshold to the front door. They were making a concerted effort to enter the house by chewing away large chunks of the wood. I’m guessing they had observed me leaving the house with corn for the feeder. They probably wanted to get to the source of food to avoid dealing with the middleman, me. Finally, I had to attach sheet metal over the edge of the threshold that was exposed to the outdoors.
Approximately a month after the attempted squirrel burglary, a truly gruesome thing happened that convinced me not to attract the little rodents to the yard by feeding them. I had just arrived home from the gym. There was a terrible commotion going on at the top of the tallest elm tree in the front yard. Two squirrels were fighting an errant pigeon that had apparently intruded into the space near the squirrels’ nest.
For the next hour or so, one by one, feathers drifted out of the tree onto the yard. Evidently, squirrels aren’t satisfied with simply being omnivores, they are also capable of actually killing other creatures. That event convinced me to stop feeding the squirrels. There was just too much squirrel drama, and it was getting stranger and creepier. It wasn’t as if the squirrels would starve. There is a small grove of trees in and around the yard. The squirrels can munch on seeds and tree products anyway.
After perhaps a year of not feeding corn to the squirrels, I began to enjoy squirrel visits in the yard again. Watching them forage for food is now relaxing because the little rodents are no longer exhibiting extreme behavior and violence.