Thursday, January 24, 2013

Poe Birds

I think we are down to two squirrels. 
When Mars and I went away for the Christmas holiday we were providing room and board for between six and eight acorn burying Sciurus, depending on the day.  We left them, and the birds with which they share the dining hall, a full feeder of sunflower seeds – plus the biggest ear of corn I could find for their exclusive, tree-side squirrel-feeding device.  When we returned the canister was empty, the maize was missing, and no furry gray rodents were in sight.  
I replenished the self-service seed silo and the corn but for several days no one – feathered or furred  – appeared to take advantage of my somewhat guilt-ridden largesse.  Then a few juncos and chickadees dropped in.  Soon there was pretty much continuous wing traffic at and below the al fresco cafeterias – but no squirrels.
Then the crows came.  In what may have been a foreshadowing of the demise of the New England Patriots at the hands of the Poe-birds from Baltimore, the glossy black intruders overran our landscape multiple times a day – totally unimpeded.
They somehow detached the ear of corn that had been screwed onto the squirrel feeder and tossed it to the ground.   There they took turns tentatively pecking at it and immediately hopping back in fear – like the monkeys in the film “2001: A Space Odyssey” checking out the monolith that fell among them.
After about a week of all-birds-all-the-time a squirrel showed up – not early or aggressively enough to claim its rightful food – but instead obsequiously dining underneath the sunflower feeder.
It was fat.  Quite fat actually.  So clearly it had not been in any way starving.  After two or three days it climbed (or jumped) onto the seed station. Before we went away the rodents would drape their bodies along the side of the cylinder, gorging themselves for hours at a time. This visit lasted less than a minute.  Shortly thereafter a second tree rodent appeared on the scene – but not with any regularity.
 During this time we did see one flattened gray furry corpse pressed into the tarmac of our street of residence.  The crows took time off from their Vegan ways and began takin’ it to the street.
Soon the corpse was gone.  Either our town’s road-kill remover did his thing – we really do have one – or the carnivorous black birds did theirs.  In any event the crows are back once again in full force – but not so with the bushy tailed rodents.
It may be that as long as the ravens stay we will have just one or two squirrels, but never more.

No comments: