Backyard Birds and Then There are the Squirrels

Staying around the house leaves lots of time to watch what is going on with the Bird Feeders. I thought there were mostly House Finches and Sparrows in the yard, but it seems I was wrong. There are more birds than I would have imagined cruising through the back yard. And we live about two and one-half miles from the wild.

Two pair of Curved Bill Thrashers have made the backyard their part time home. I Spotted a Ladder backed Woodpecker trying to get to the Hummingbird juice the other day. A rather striking bird to say the least. Of course there are Hummingbirds, mostly Broad Tailed Hummingbirds, but occasionally, though not this year, a Rufous Hummingbird or two stake out their territorial claims in late June. They are very aggressive. I think they may get blown in from storms coming from the west.

Not there for the bird food are a few Road Runners , who hunt lizards and mice when they can find them. I think I may have a post about Road Runners walking with me on the walking path hoping I would scare them up some lunch.

Of the larger birds, there are several varieties of Doves. There are also Gambels Quail ,though only a few as I do not put out food for them specifically. Along the path where I walk, at one house there will be thirty or forty eating out their quail feeder. Quite a sight!

Then there are the squirrels, Rock Squirrels to be precise.

Someone in the family wanted to feed them, and puts out peanuts for them. I went out one night to water some shrubs and found a lot more than squirrels were feasting on peanuts. There were over a dozen very healthy looking roaches at the peanut buffet.

The ruling was we keep feeding the squirrels, so it was up to me to find an acceptable way to feed the Squirrels and not the roaches. I went to a local Birding store, and found the most interesting squirrel feeder. It’s called a Squirrel Box, and it is about as it sounds.

For those who feel the need to entertain Squirrels

















As you can see from the picture it is a wood box with a plexiglass front. The other choices were not appealing, so Squirrel Box it was. In case anyone is curious, Squirrel Box is not compensating me for this. I asked how the Squirrels get in, and the Owner told me they learn to lift the lid.

I know squirrels are smart, but that is like opening a camping cooler top. I bought one, but had my doubts. I put it out in the yard, put some peanuts in it and waited. The first squirrel showed up. It didn’t approach, but hid and examined. Then it left. About forty minutes later, there was a squirrel with it head inside the box, pulling out peanuts and eating them like a child with candy, only faster.

By the second day, all three or four of the squirrels were experts at getting their peanuts. But the Curved Bill Thrashers were not happy, and would hit the glass on the patio sliding door. Adding the door hitting to their cries of complain, it was obvious they were not happy with the peanut situation.

I have about about forty pounds of cracked corn that goes to feeding the ducks at the park and I put some of that out on a large upturned planter to keep the roaches away. They found it the next day, and now everything in the back yard is happy. Except maybe the Ladder Back Woodpecker. The temperature is hitting the mid to upper nineties, I am not about to put suet blocks to have a Woodpecker hang around. I am starting to feel like I am running a free restaurant as it is.

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