billy’s birds and scary squirrels

12 09 2008

Early last spring, I got to my folks on a Saturday and found my dad out in the yard in his pajama pants, ball cap too big for his head, and short sleeved v-neck t-shirt head chasing around in the yard with a broom held up over his head like a crazy man.  “I’m gonna get them!  I’m gonna get them!,” he yelled.  “Gonna get who?”, I wondered out loud. 

Somewhere in post-retirement, Billy got into birds.  It was a great hobby – they collected beautiful wood carvings to hang in their kitchen, magazines and bird watching primers were always close at hand for identification and binoculars were amassed.  On the south side of the house there is a hugely overgrown honeysuckle bush – monstrously deformed and sprawling.  A personal aviary.

He had made what he considered the best anti-squirrel design for feeding his little tweeties.  But the fates, super-squirrels and/or a design flaw was really frustrating him.  Something was keeping his fine feathered friends at bay and by spying through the window, he had solved his mystery.  

The squirrels were eating all the birdseed.  So seeing that the broom routine really wasn’t cutting it (I could hear all the squirrels and their twittering little laughs making fun of him) we had to come up with an alternate plan.  Thank God for the internet or I’d still be in the library.  Of course, on line I could find hundreds of birdfeeders designed to be 100% guaranteed squirrel proof.  He’d have no part of it.  “That stuff is for the birds…”

Next we tried a scarecrow…motion sensored, glassy eyed big owl.  We set it up on the ground under the bush – and after a bit checked on it to find that those cheeky squirrels had knocked it over (not really but that’s what Billy thought).  He fanagled a way to suspend it from the bush making it look like it was  “flying”.  Again – a wash.

Soon enough the dementia demons had distracted him to the point that he forgot all about feeding the peeps.  For the better part of 3 months no one has been paying attention to the birdy buddies.  My conscience has been bothering me…it takes two minutes to fill the coffee can with the small tin can and walk it around to the far side of the house.  That was a priority for my visit this time (and to have our phone interview with social security).  I wonder how long it will take for them to come back.  I did leave about a half a loaf of moldy bread under the bush the other day and there is not a crumb left to show for it.  Proof that we have squirrels or birds coming back.

This new chore will get added to the calendar’s ‘to do’ list as soon as we understand what garbage goes in which garbage can…recycling is tough at 81.  She loves working in the yard and if I can keep her from chopping down the aviary and even if she doesn’t have Meals on Wheels goodies to share with the squirrels/cat/birds/raccoon or whatever is snacking, she can handle the birdseed.

Yesterday I was thinking about how many people have mentioned knowing my dad by his whistle and I haven’t heard it for years.  As I was thinking about that – I heard a cardinal chirp out.  No, I’m not thinking he’s come back as a feathered friend – that’s for the birds!