For the birds

My current project is setting up a bird feeder in our back yard. I’d initially wanted a bird feeder to keep the birds from eating my garden. Plans got more elaborate when I discovered how much we all enjoy watching the birds. Now it’s mostly just the principle of the thing.

I’ve been trying to pull off a kitchen garden for a couple of years now, and had hopes that this year’s setup would be successful. However, something’s been digging in my garden (a feral cat, I presumed) and I’ve watched birds eating the seeds I’ve planted to replace the ruined plants. Rather than give up, though, I’ve been trying to remedy the problem — if not in time for this year’s harvest, at least so next year’s goes well. I planted some catnip for the cats; I don’t want to run them off, as they help keep our mouse and spider population low, but I do want them to stay out of my garden. Now it’s time to deal with the birds.

We have had bird feeders on our front porch for a while now, so step one in Operation Quit Eating My Garden was simply to move those to the back deck. I put out bird seed ornaments, which the rain knocked down. Then I put out bird seed cakes in our bird feeder, which I simply suspended from the deck railing. They disappeared overnight. I figured a feral cat got to them. So I tried again, with store-bought suet cakes. (I was hoping they’d be gooey enough to not appeal to the cats. Also, the homemade seed cakes got moldy before they set, and I didn’t want to feed the birds mold.) I hung the bird feeder from a deck hook this time, to lift it above the reaching range of the feral cats.

The next morning, we discovered an empty bird feeder and the biggest, fattest raccoon I’ve ever seen licking his chops as he sniffed around the deck for any crumbs he may have missed. I was a bit frustrated, but didn’t really get upset until the fat bugger started digging in my garden for dessert.

I knocked on the window. He didn’t respond.

Anya knocked on the window. He ignored us.

We both knocked and yelled. Finally he looked up, languorously licking his chops, with an expression that said, “Yeah, I ate your bird seed. Every bit. And I’m not at all sorry. What are you gonna do about it?”

The answer is, apparently, nothing. We merely stood there and watched as he hopped down and sashayed back into the trees.

But I’m planning. I’m going to contact animal control and ask them to set a trap (my parents assure me he’ll be back), and I’m going to get a taller hook for my bird feeder. I’ll use the deck hook for our hummingbird feeder; hopefully that’ll be safe from the critters.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of putting the bird feeders out back in the first place. We spend way more time looking out the back window than the front. And this way, we’re not inviting birds to crap all over our porch.

Now I just want to make sure I’m not inviting small mammals to crap on the back deck, either.

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