Nautilus

Human vs. Squirrel: The Battle of Wits Is On

“Hey, thanks for the new feeder. Now I can pretend I’m super-squirrel while I eat!”IanC66 via Shutterstock

Feed the birds, they said. It will be fun, they said.

Early this spring I bought a simple wood-and-plastic bird feeder. My children and I filled it with feed that promised to lure colorful birds, hung it from a tree in the front yard within view of the kitchen window, and waited. A few weeks later the birds arrived. Blue jays, robins, chickadees, cardinals, orioles, and wrens flew in, flitted down, and pecked at food. My children were delighted, and so was I.

On the fourth morning I spotted a squirrel. Brown and gray with a white belly and an anxiously darting, reddish tail, it crept up the tree, and stopped on a branch just above the feeder. Grabbing the branch with its hind legs, the squirrel flipped upside-down and rappel-stretched down to the feeder’s opening. “Oh, look at the cute, little squirrel,” I thought, “It wants some food too.” Within a few minutes the feeder was on the ground, battered

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