It started a couple of nights ago. The wife woke up one morning, surveyed the backyard, and noticed that one of her bird feeders was missing. Upon investigation, she discovered the bird feeder lying on the ground, upside down, and void of the pound of sunflower seeds that had been there the night before. She surveyed the damage . . . flowers and plants mushed down, a few supposedly broken branches on the other side of the fence, and lots of sunflower hulls all over the ground. With a black bear recently killed a mile out of our little town a couple of weeks ago, she was certain that it was a bear—a woman’s intuition.
Later, that evening I had an opportunity to survey the crime scene. Yes, the flowers and plants were mushed up, but only on the path that our two vicious Dachshunds case out the yard every day. The supposedly broken branches turned out to be the trimmings of the neighbor’s lilac bush that grows through our fence and I return to their yard after cutting them down. And, the sunflower hulls . . . well those were the ones that the birds deposit while eating out of that particular feeder. I decided it was not a bear . . . bears are sloppy eaters who like to tear up the area in which they are eating . . . there was nothing like that there. Call it a man’s intuition.
Then it happened again . . . bird feeder removed from the pole . . . and, about a pound of sunflowers missing. It was a clean caper each and every time it happened in the past week. I ventured a guess that it had to be a deer. Deer frequent our yard in the winter for the seed in the bird feeders, but they are fairly rare in the summer . . . but, hey, it could be a lazy deer who sees a free buffet. Both the wife and I were ready to accept the fact that it was a deer . . . until . . .
. . . until I gave the crime scene a closer examination. Each morning the feeder was turned upside down. The lid, which had two latches, always has one latch moved over . . . it was like someone had flipped the latch, turned the bird feeder over, and dumped all the sunflower seeds on the ground. Then, whatever it was, had a feast! Whatever or whoever this bandit was, it had some dexterity. I began to think a raccoon.
Well, though we have not seen the culprit yet, we are now certain it was a raccoon. A well-fed raccoon. Several members of the church I serve confirmed it when I described what I found each morning. They said it wasn’t a bear, though bears have been wandering around getting into garbage lately. They said it wasn’t a deer . . . they have been finding plenty to eat ever since everyone has planted gardens. With the dexterity that the culprit was displaying they were certain it was a raccoon. Now, knowing what I was dealing with, my inner Elmer Fudd—the hunter, Elmer Fudd—began to stir. It was time to catch the culprit . . . time to catch that wascally waccoon!
Of course, one person offered me the use of a raccoon trap. Just set it up, put in some bait, and wait. Since sunflower seeds seem to be some sort of crack to raccoons, it would make sense to use sunflower seeds as bait. Once in the trap I could take the critter out in the country and release it far, far away from the backyard and its bird feeders. Or, I could just put it out of its misery and kill it. As much as it sounded like a good idea—capturing it and releasing it else where . . . like maybe in that neighbor’s yard that I don’t like, I knew that wouldn’t be an option . . . at least not at first. The wife would never go for that . . . too violent, especially since most folks in this neck of the woods would take it out to the country and plant it six feet in the ground.
The wife’s plan is that we will break the raccoon of its sunflower habit . . . cold turkey! We are going to take the bird feeder down, put it in the garage, and see if it will forget and go away. We will see what happens, but if you drive through our little town and see a raccoon with the shakes, drooling, and turning over trash cans looking for sunflower seeds . . . you’ll know that it is our raccoon. I figure that if the raccoon is smart of enough to figure out how to get the bird feeder off the pole, on the ground, and opened up for a feast of sunflower seeds; then it will probably be smart enough to see right through this intervention. I think it will be back within days, raiding the bird feeder. In the meantime, it will lay low until the heat is off.
My idea is that we just keep filling up the bird feeder with a pound of sunflowers every night . . . let that wascally waccoon have at it. Let that little bandit have all the sunflowers it can eat . . . l figure on a diet of a pound of sunflowers every day for a week or two that little booger will balloon to 60 pounds in no time! It will never be able to get its fat little hiney up the pole, much less climb over the fence to begin with. Its fat, stubby little fingers will never be able to maneuver the latch off the lid. Its gluttony will be the end of its bandit days. But, once again, I doubt if the wife will let me do that either . . . she will probably go out and buy low-fat sunflower seeds. She will kill it with kindness.
The reality of the situation is that we will continue to have bandits raiding our bird feeders. Last year we had one, maybe two, squirrels that feasted on the bird feeders . . . this year, we have four in the backyard and one in the front. The wife has started to buy seed corn and peanuts to distract the squirrel bandits from the bird feeders . . . the squirrels see it as an appetizer before the main feast. We have a neighborhood skunk, but it has pretty much left us alone since the wife got warned by the local law enforcement to not feed the animals . . . gone is the fruit and occasional dog food. But the skunk lets us know that it has been around . . . its scent usually greets us to remind us that it has been in the yard. The deer, well, we get a reprieve until the snow begins to fly in late October . . . then they will start showing up in gangs, eating seed, and leaving reminders that they too have been there.
They are all bandits . . . crooks! They frustrate the wife, but she it too kind-hearted to really solve the problem . . . animals should not go hungry . . . we’ve got to help God out in keeping the animals fed . . . pretty much the whole wild kingdom from the look of things right now. So, I bite my tongue, buy more seed, and keep putting that stinking bird feeder up . . . over and over again. That wascally waccoon has met its match and won!