July 02, 2021
When I went out to look at my feeders yesterday, I noticed one of the hanging tripods had broken and it was dangling along the fence. I had previously written about the mystery of the suet feeder first being knocked to the ground, and then completely disappearing from the same general location. While I had not mentioned it, the squirrel feeder had the Plexiglas barrier torn off and thrown to the ground several weeks ago. I have never seen the perpetrator for any of these events, but as I mentioned previously, the likely suspects are one of the three squirrels that I have seen feeding in all five stations. Now they appear to be getting rough.
Squirrels are best known as the cute little animals found in parks across America. What you may not know is they are often intentionally placed in man-made parks. They are generally not aggressive toward humans, but they can be rough toward each other. That is especially true when humans decide to feed the squirrels. When you feed wild animals such as squirrels, others that are not getting fed get jealous. Just like gulls at the beach, when you feed one you will observe that quickly becomes countless birds also wanting their share. The same is true of squirrels, and they will get rough with each other for food if they are hungry. Feeding squirrels in the park also makes them become more aggressive toward humans. That is why most parks have signs advising visitors to not feed the animals.
While I am not feeding park squirrels, I am suffering some of the same consequences. My squirrels have become rough with the feeders and have driven off the birds to keep the food for themselves. There are two differences between the park and my yard. First, many people in the park feed processed human food to the squirrels. Even the peanuts that are still in the shell are often heavily salted to conform to the human pallet. Processed food does not have the nutrients that the squirrels need and find in their normal diet. Second, as I mentioned when I started feeding them, they were robbing the feeders whether I fed them or not. These are not hand fed, and they still run away when I come out of the house. I guess I better go get some more shelled and unsalted peanuts to add to the squirrel mix.
Thoughts: I admit I did resonate with one of the statements made by the anti-feeding site, “How many squirrels are you willing to feed? One? Two? One hundred?” Whether you deliberately feed wild squirrels in your backyard, or actively try to keep them out of your feeders, the result is the same. They will get their cut and will be rough with each other and the other birds until they do. Apparently, they are just as rough with the feeders if they do not provide access to the needed seed. About 14 percent of U.S. households, or roughly 48 million people (1 in 7), go hungry at some point during the year, child rates are higher (1 in 5 in US and 1 in 4 in my community). The major cause of food insecurity is the lack of jobs (especially with high enough wages to avoid food insecurity), lack of job skills, and single parent families. When we see hungry animals, we place feeders in our yard to help keep them from going hungry. When we see humans who live in the food deserts of the inner cities and rural areas of the US, should we not do the same? Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.