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.