Friday, May 10, 2013

This is Really for the Birds!

I miss my birds. It's only been two days, but I miss them terribly.

We received notice from the leasing office Tuesday that we can no longer feed the birds and squirrels on our patio. We've been feeding them there as long as we've lived here--seven years as of next week--and though the birds are not causing a problem, it's a case of guilt by association. The squirrels eat the bird seed, too--and the squirrels, it seems, have been chewing into the electrical wiring in the buildings.



Feeding the wildlife is a way of life for us. My parents did it for as long as I can remember. When Collin was little, we adopted a family of squirrels--or they adopted us, I was never quite sure which. The day we moved, the male squirrel kept running through the doggy door, frantic, trying to figure out what was happening. My dad missed the little furball til the day he died.

One day, a few years after Dad died, Mom, Collin and I found an injured dove when we were out for a walk. We took her home with us, and I took care of her until she was able to be on her own again--but when we set her free, she kept coming back. She was there on the kitchen windowsill every morning for breakfast, and before long, she was bringing her friends with her.

So now, after almost twenty years of having mourning doves outside my window every morning, impatiently awaiting their breakfast, no one is there. When the snow comes this winter, there won't be any tiny footprints in the snow outside our door, making circles as they wait. Now, we're feeding them in the cemetery across the road from the complex. Once I'm sure they're finding the food, I'll stop worrying about them...but I'll still miss them.

But the squirrel problem won't end for management. For one thing, we're not the only ones feeding birds. There are bird feeders on several of the balconies. Collin and I are the only ones feeding doves, who are ground dwellers. For another, there are lots of trees on the grounds. Where there are trees, there are squirrels. And there's the matter of the hole in the roof. It was there for quite a while. If there's an opening, squirrels will use it.

I wish we could move to the country, where we could be surrounded by birds and animals instead of annoying people. Chewing or not, I'd take the squirrels over my neighbors any day!

*Also published at Wordpress.

30 comments:

  1. I hate this, Norma. I'm an avid bird feeder myself. (We don't have many squirrels where I live...) I have a family of cardinals that dine and bathe in my backyard.

    And I'm with you on the animals over people most days.

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    1. Animals don't have an agenda. What you see is what you get!

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  2. This is so sad. Having birds stopping by and chirping, singing is the best sound in the morning.
    But I so agree about the squirrels. Cute as they are and I like watching them they are so destructive.
    I don't feed the birds where I live. I don't want them dependent on me but the main reason is all the critters that are around me. I have so many ground animals that would/are attracted to feeders. The pack rats are so evil it is a constant battle to keep them out of my house. Greedy devils, squirrels are angels next to them.
    But I have added extra drips under plants for everyone so in the hot summer they have cool places to nap the day away. I am putting in a shallow water pond for them also.
    Like you I like my animals better than people.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. One of the problems with feeding them is that they do become dependent. When that food isn't there, it confuses them. I worried every time they moved--but they always found us. Now, I worry they won't find the new feeding spot--but Collin says he took the food out today, and they all showed up shortly after he got there.

      I wonder sometimes if it's best to fed them, but not in the same place every time....

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    2. Oh I hope they were your bird friends ! and not some others.
      The reason I don't want them to become dependent on me because what if I don't put food out for a week ? But the water is on timers so I don't have to remember to water. I figure there is plenty of food for them but not always enough water.
      I have a funny very cute bird story from last summer that I will post one day.

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    3. Considering the pot smokers, drug dealers and assorted felons get to stay, I would think animals would be considered angels by comparison, but no. Go figure!

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  3. How frustrating this must be! We have both squirrels and birds near us, I know squirrels are considered a pest but the sight of both animals are something I would miss if they were to suddenly go away. They add so much to the rhythms of life! Especially in urban environments. I like angryparsnips idea above, of adding extra water out, for them to enjoy when hot.

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    1. My parents both had great love and respect for nature, and I come by it naturally. Not having critters outside my window feels...abnormal.

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  4. Oh this is sad but unfortunately these management companies do the strangest things. They trim back trees complete with nests--it breaks my heart. Yesterday when going for a walk a landscape worker was dropping poisoned hotdogs onto the front of all the homes with a small red flag in each one. I asked what they were and he told me they were to stop the fire ants. Can you imagine they use hot dogs when I'm trying to walk two dogs? Are they trying to kill the dogs? Hot dog is obviously a wonderful treat for a dog but at least most of these had flags so I could walk around them. Except for the few that he accidentally dropped along the way.... Fire ants are horrible but there should be another solution! Hugs to you and the little birdies who will live on and on in the area across the street.

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    1. I'm worried that they're going to put poison out for the squirrels.

      I wonder if PETA would intervene?

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  5. I think people too often go for the expedient, quick decision about an animal related issue... without thinking things through. The squirrel problem will still be there.

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    1. It's not going to go away. But they'll have to see that for themselves. The squirrels were here when we moved in, and they're not going to just vanish because I'm not longer putting out peanuts.

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  6. Norma, I'm so sorry you can't enjoy feeding the birds anymore. So often those with a whiff of authority react to problems large and small by banning something. They never seem to stop and think through whether the banning will actually address the problem nor do they consider what unintended consequences may occur due to their edicts. It seems their only motivation is to be able to say that they acted swiftly.

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    1. Our property manager has to answer to the property owners. I have the name of the company president and the address--something I located during my battles with the neighbors over their bratty kids, just in case it was needed--but I figured while I could make a strong case for dealing with problem neighbors, they wouldn't be likely to listen to my objections regarding the birds, so there's realistically not much I can do.

      I did have a problem with one neighbor early on who came banging on my door, demanding I stop feeding the birds because his dog was eating the food. His dog shouldn't have been able to get to the bird food. I called animal control and asked if there was a leash law in our neighborhood. There is, and that shut him up. Then, the pain in the butt who lives next to us (and unfortunately works here, though I've never seen her doing anything that actually looks like working) stuck a note in my door one day, telling me to stop feeding the squirrels because they were digging in her plants. So this isn't exactly a new fight.

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  7. And yet your apartment complex still hasn't kicked out the ball-throwing children?! Seems unfair! But glad you can still go to feed the birds at the cemetery. They'll figure it out. :)

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    1. You know, Carla, they don't really enforce anything here. They send out notices, but never back them up. In the past week, the kids have been playing ball up here every evening.

      I haven't seen the squirrels since I started feeding them at the cemetery--except for one poor little guy who got hit by a car as he was running across the road toward the cemetery entrance. But the doves aren't giving up. They were out here this morning, looking for every bit of seed they could find remaining on the ground. It broke my heart to watch them.

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  8. That's really sad. It's a good thing you are still able to feed them at the cemetery.

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    1. Fortunately, it's not far away. The squirrels and most of the birds have adapted quickly.

      It is sad. Thank you.

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  9. I'm certain with a little imagination and enterprise, wiring can be protected from squirrel chewing and such like especially by a company! :-( The worse anyone can do is suddenly stop feeding the animals who have grown used to their regular feeding stops to find them suddenly no longer there! :-( I know such creatures will eventually find alternatives but not all will. I am so sorry you are being forced to stop showing some humanity towards your fellow creatures, Norma. It's heartbreaking!

    Take care
    x

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    1. The squirrels adapted quickly, as did most of the birds--I'd been giving them bread in the cemetery and other locations all along. The doves refuse to go, so I have to keep giving them something here. You wouldn't believe how the doves have followed us over the years. When we were staying at a hotel, the doves were outside. Seriously!

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  10. We're putting out hummingbird feeders but not seed. Much as I enjoy the squirrels (once a fat one scrunched into our bird feeder to eat the seeds...he was hilarious to watch)they were a huge nuisance at our old house, gnawing on the sideboards and trying to nest inside.

    They even ate through a wooden gable vent to get in; after we finally got them out, we had to replace the whole grate and put metal netting behind it to keep them out. And at least once a year, they ate through the wiring on the electric post up from the house and caused the do-hickey to pop loudly and lead to a power outage.

    So much as I like seeing the birds, I can do without the tree rats, no matter how cute!

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    1. Tree rats? That's a good one!

      I found a post on a renters review site from a tenant who lived here before we moved in--seems a squirrel fell through their ceiling and her husband caught it and took it back outside!

      So...the problem didn't start with me and my peanuts, and it won't end with them!

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  11. No footprints in the snow -- I feel for you! Our condo HOA has the same rule. A bummer! The squirrels here are totally out of control and spoiling it for everyone.

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    1. The funny thing is, I only had one squirrel. I'm not sure why. We used to live on the other side of the complex. I found this little one one morning, outside my door, her butt sticking up out of a planter I'd set outside the door because the plant had died. She was looking for food. I felt sorry for her. When we moved, I wondered how long it would take her to find us. I told Collin to put that planter next to the door, hoping she'd recognize it.

      I think the little rodent rode up on the moving truck!

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  12. Hear hear Norma, as a bird feeder myself I know how it must feel to be told you can't feed them anymore.. How awful, but I'm sure they'll soon get used to the new 'cafe' location over the road. I find animals and birds to be extremely smart, especially where food is concerned :)

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  13. Hey, Grace--the good news is that they do seem to be adapting already--Collin and I went over to the cemetery to feed them this morning, and they were waiting for us. As soon as I'm sure all of the doves have found their way, I'll breathe easy. These critters are my extended family!

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  14. That's very good news Norma, I had a feeling they would adapt.Now you can relax a bit right.

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    1. The doves refuse to give up. They still show up every morning. And since they're not squirrels and they don't hurt anything, I give them some seed. I'm waiting for someone to complain....

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  15. It's good to know the birds are adapting, but I know it's hard not having them as company:(. We had bird feeders in our yard when we lived in NC. It was amazing to see the squirrels maneuver themselves up to and into those feeders.

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    1. It's not a fair trade, Maria--instead of birds, I now have two old bats outside my window!

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