Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Tenacious Squirrel

After my recent blog on the thirsty squirrel,
one of my sisters reminded me about the "Yankee Flipper,"
a bird feeder that has a motorized wheel at the bottom 
that is supposed to keep squirrels from raiding the birdseed.
We actually had one and it worked pretty well--
perhaps too well for a time. 

For a few years, 
my husband was determined to outsmart the squatter squirrels
that routinely settled into the platform bird feeders.
He had a number of tricks up his sleeve,
from quickly opening and closing the back door,
to greasing the feeder's metal pole 
and then watching the squirrels slide down it over and over again.
He may have gotten this love of the challenge from his mom, 
who from her rural home could hurl a broom toward an unwelcome wild animal 
with the cool eye and sure aim of an Olympic javelin thrower.

One day my husband came upon a Yankee Flipper, 
the bird feeder with the motorized wheel
that is guaranteed to spin the squirrel, unharmed, off of the feeder.
So I bought him one.
Day after day, he would check to see if a squirrel had gotten to the wheel.
Day after day, a squirrel hadn't.
Then one morning, while my husband was away on a business trip,
I awoke to a squeaky, metallic kind of sound, something akin to  
the turning of a rusty windmill over an old western ghost town.

I looked out the window and saw something that looked like a long white gym sock
going round and round and round on the Yankee flipper.
I shook myself awake to the realization that a gray squirrel
was either accidentally stuck, or willfully holding on to, the rotating wheel.
Round and round he went. His white belly did not at all signify surrender.
His bushy tail stuck straight out as he circled and circled.
And circled some more.

I actually thought it had died--a heroic rodent cowboy still in the saddle,
if only with one foot stuck in a stirrup 
as his metallic steed headed off into a dizzying circle.
Just as I was bracing myself for the unpleasant task 
of releasing the deceased squirrel from the wheel,
he either jumped or fell off. 
He staggered. He weaved. He eventually ran down the path to safety.
We never saw him on the Flipper again. 
And I'm not sure who was more relieved--the squirrel or me.

The flipper eventually became the victim of a strong-armed outlaw raccoon 
who on successive nights lifted it from its hook 
and dropped it to the ground, bending its wheel.
My husband gave up matching wits with the squirrels.
Now we just feed them along with the birds.
And really, as long as they don't invade our house (yes, that's happened),
it's all good.

Here's a video of a red squirrel as it makes the rounds on a couple's Yankee flipper.
The squirrel was unharmed:


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