by Sandy James

Ah spring! A time of renewal. A time for tiny plants pushing through the still chilly earth. A time for the return of morning song from Cardinal and Robin. A time of cleaning out and trimming down. A time for once again hanging the feeders to feed the SQUIRRELS!!!

photo from BurningWell.org

Don’t get me wrong I LOVE animals. I have three cats. Unfortunately they have not been on the other side of the door since last fall….but that’s another story. For now they are indoor cats, a boon for the birds but also the squirrels. There are two that regularly visit my feeders, a black and a brown. They are adult and no doubt have families somewhere to whose home they proudly carry their seedy loot. I imagine their pride at providing for their families” Look at me I am “the man”, or woman, of this nest Show me some respect!”

Thing is I love birds and they are starting to give me the evil eye. One Jay in particular comes every day, sits on the fence and squawks in “JAYESE” “Where’s the seed. I flew 3000 miles for this? “You see, can’t you, that something had to be done.

So gearing myself up to sound tough and countrified, I borrowed an animal trap from my 94 year old father who patiently explained how easily and efficiently it worked. No doubt he had caught countless squirrels and God knows what else in that trap. It would be a snap. Humane. Still I felt guilty.

I stowed the contraption in my back seat quickly, as if I was carrying a loaded weapon and might be stopped by the squirrel police. Getting it home I secreted it in my garage, only days later bringing it out to consider my dark deed. For indeed it was. If I succeeded in capturing this thief, my intention was to transport it far far away where he would never locate my bird feeder again.

I could feel good about not harming the animal but desperate about what this might do to his, or her, family. “Where is Daddy??” The little ones might say, “I’m hungry,” and then they would give off little squirrely sobs and be cradled in their mother’s soft furry bosom, a look of abject fear on her face.

The day arrived, moody wispy and unpredictable…with a promise of rain. A fitting setting. Carefully, I set the trap on my back deck in full view of the garden doors looking out from my office, at the back of my house. I first placed some seed and peanuts in the shell in the feeder; just a bit so he wouldn’t fill up, so would go looking for more. Then a trail of nuts right into the trap. On the spring mechanism I placed a few more. “Pretty cool” I smugged to myself.

I didn’t take long for Mr. Furry to arrive. He went for it right away and, as predicted, would scurry away for periods of time to, probably return his catch to the nest. But he always returned and every time he took another peanut he became closer and closer to actually entering the cage and I hoped, imminent capture. The moment finally arrived and my friend reached for the last peanut off of the trip and ran away. As quick as you please. The trap remained resolutely unsprung.

Disappointed but undaunted I considered my dilemma. It seemed the problem was that the squirrel could access the bait from either end of the trap thus avoiding the trip mechanism. If I closed off one end of it he would have no choice but to step on it to get to his feast on the other side. Looking around I found some cardboard sleeve from the inside of some cardboard boxes I had brought home in the faint hope that I might actually throw something away in them. I positioned the cardboard at the one end and placed an aluminum pie plate full of yummy seeds and nuts on the other side of the trip. Satisfied I stood back and smiled certain that this time he was mine.

He was back almost immediately and was just about to cross into the land of no return when it began to pour. Not this time either. Ok then “Just wait my pretty, I’ll get you!”

Evening came and once again I set the trap. This time I put a plastic flower pot against the card board to keep it in place as the rain had sogged it up considerably. I set out the banquet, turned out the lights and went to bed.

It was a very stormy night with high winds and rain. I was awakened with a start at 6am with a door slamming shut as the wind boldly raced in my open window. Immediately I thought of the trap and what I may have caught, or not. Excitedly I rushed down the stairs and made my way into the office, with the morning straining for light just outside the glass of the garden door. At first I saw the end of the trap and that it was down. Eureka. I did it… Then moving closer I saw the true picture. The other end of the trap had tried to go down; it HAD been sprung but was stopped by the plastic pot which was now wedged under the flap. The nuts were gone. Must have been the wind… I mused.

It was then I noticed some movement from a bit above the trap. A furry something on the deck railing. There was the black squirrel cleaning his face, seemingly full and content, looking right at me. Our eyes locked. It was like that scene from “The Good the Bad and the Ugly”; shootout at twenty paces, except I was out of ammo. I sincerely thought I heard him laughing and as I turned, dejected, I could swear he was thumbing his nose at me.

So I might give up I don’t know. A friend has offered to lend me her trap with which she has had great success. Maybe I will. I don’t seem to have a knack for the catching thing. I just watched the squirrel walk right through the trap, over and on the trip , and out the other side, looking for more and laughing his fur off.

Sandy has been a member of CWC since 2006 but has been on hiatus for a few years. She is a therapist and has a private practice in her home. She lives in Paris Ontario with her three cats and the occasional furry visitor.

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