Albion Recorder & Morning Star News

Looking Out: Pigs on the wing

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about our daily raccoon visitors, the placid Creampuff and the more aggressive Bismarck. Both spend time each day beneath our bird feeder, picking up uneaten seeds dropped by the birds.

I enjoy watching the show, but my beloved wife Marsha takes delight in stepping outside, yelling at the beasts and watching them run into the woods.

“Why did you chase Creampuff away?” I ask.

“She was getting ready to climb the pole and wreck the feeders,” she says.

“She’s too fat to climb the pole,” I say.

“I think she lets Bismarck do the dirty work, and then she reaps the harvest after everything falls. Jelly for the orioles, suet for the woodpeckers and nectar for the hummingbirds, all mixed in with the sunflower seeds,” Marsha says.

The two visitors never climb the pole during daylight hours, but we often find a mess in the morning.

I set up a motion-sensing trail camera and confirm that it is Bismarck who is nightly pretending to be Sir Edmund Hillary, climbing the well-oiled slippery pole past all the squirrel-and-raccoon-proof baffles to drink the hummingbirds’ nectar, nibble the suet, dump out the grape jelly and sprinkle the sunflower seeds on the ground, leaving a mess of tangled equipment and sticky seed husks.

“The solution to the problem is to stop feeding the birds for a couple of weeks until those two critters get discouraged,” I suggest. “It would also reduce our daily Invasion of 1000 squirrels.”

“But I love seeing and hearing the birds,” says Marsha.

Her orders are clear:  I need to bring the feeders into the garage every evening and put them back out in the morning.

Sometime around sunset, I trudge out into the yard and gather the feeders from their hooks on the big pole. I plod back across the grass, up the driveway and into the garage to place the feeders on an empty plastic grocery bag, pretending that this will keep the ants and mice out of the garage where they would find seeds, suet, sugar water and grape jelly.

In the morning, I slog back across the wet grass, soaking my shoes, and rehang the refilled feeders on the pole. Back in the garage, I retrieve the plastic bag, take it outside and wash it with the garden hose.

“I’m beginning to resent the pigs,” I say.

“Pigs?” says Marsha. “You mean Creampuff and Bismarck?”

“No. The birds. They are little flying pigs. They show no gratitude. They are messy eaters who squawk and complain about the menu. They divebomb each other to cut to the front of the line. They expect me to carry water to the birdbath when there’s a river and a pond 150 yards away. They are demanding, picky, noisy, messy pig-like ingrates, and furthermore, they poop anywhere they like, including on me when I’m out there hanging feeders.”

“So very sad to be treated that way,” says Marsha.

“You mean me?”

“No. The birds. I love the birds.”

“Let them eat cake,” I say. “Or wild berries, worms, bugs…”

I recall my father’s battle with the raccoons that ate the sweet corn in his garden. He finally solved the problem by planting two rows of sacrificial sweet corn all the way around his garden to feed the raccoons while his real crop of sweet corn prospered in the center of the garden.

“We need to plow up the yard and plant sweet corn,” I say to Marsha.

“For the birds?” she asks.

“The pigs? No. For Bismarck and Creampuff.”

Leave a Reply