Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 01.08.04
Quebec City


Squirrels, they are the nuts

I've always been fascinated by squirrels. They're the Flying Wallendas of the animal kingdom.

They can climb building walls, scamper along the thinnest of wires, and leap from branch to branch with an agility not found outside the Cirque de Soleil.

They can also loot any bird feeder known to mankind.

I haven't had a lot of personal experience myself. It's been a while since i've had a yard to put a feeder in.

But I have had a ring-side seat at several battles between man and beast.

A friend, let's call him Robert for lack of a better name, has had a life-long passion for birds.

As I reckon it, he would put out somewhere between six and eight tons of seed and suet in an average winter.

He was rewarded with a veritable who's who of birdlife.

There were chickadees, cardinals, bluejays, juncos, and waxwings.

The feeder attracted grosbeaks, grackels, and wrens.

And, along with the aforementioned, he also provided lunch for about six squirrels.

Robert has nothing against squirrels but he's a bird man. first and foremost. And to see those fluffy-tailed rats monopolizing the feeder to the detriment of his avian friends didn't sit well.

So, after considerable research, he made the mistake all birders do. He purchased a squirrel-proof feeder.

It was mounted on a metal pole with the feeder at the top and a collar-like device resembling a satellite dish just below the feeder.

The squirrels could not climb the pole and get around the shield.

Instead, they scampered along his clothesline and when directly above the feeder dropped themselves onto it like the Eighty-first Airborne on D-day.

He moved the feeder.

The squirrels proceeded to climb a nearby tree. They would then run to the very end of a branch no wider than a piece of butcher's twine.

The branch would bend and sway and the squirrels would launch themselves like Romanian gymnasts off a spring board to make a perfect ten-point landing on the feeder.

Robert proceeded with Plan 'B'. He purchased a couple of humane squirrel traps.

Oh, they worked all right.

Each morning he would go outside to find a couple of his furry friends staring dolefully at him through their prison bars.

He'd pop them into his car and drive them a couple of miles across the nearby river and release them into their new forested home.

The trouble was, one, they made friends; two, word got out about the free lunch across the river; and three, it didn't take any of them long to find the bridge.

So, before too long, the casual observer could only conclude there were more squirrels than ever before.

Suffice it to say, he never did win the battle and eventually settled on a Korean-like solution treating the feeder area more or less like a demilitarized zone where one and all could share the proffered bounty.