Here are the rest of your squirrel stories. Good luck with the critters over the winter as they seek shelter -- in your attic.
We have a hazelnut tree that overhangs a sloping section of our driveway. In the fall the squirrels (seven yesterday) invade the tree to eat the ripe nuts, covering a 15-foot section of the driveway with a blanket of hulls. Tires slide on the hulls, and you feel like you are walking on marbles. We sweep them off every day, but until the nuts are gone, we come home every evening to this natural carpet.
Ralph and Bobbie Novak
Admiring the Ingenuity
I was visiting in Falls Church, where a lovely setting for birds and squirrels was set up in a fenced-in patio area as an invitation to the animals. As I watched, a squirrel jumped from the fence onto the feeder, gently pushed corn kernels and seed to the ground, dashed down the pole and retrieved its treasure, and leapt again to the fence and off to feed her young ones. It was delightful to see the ingenuity of this animal. As I watched it come and go, it brought a smile to my face.
Falls Church area
A Critter's Best Friend
My daughter, "Squirrelly Sara" as her friends call her, is not chasing away squirrels this time of year. She actually feeds them peanuts to attract them to our back deck so she can ooh and aah and talk about how cute they are every time they come for a meal. They bring chipmunks with them, and they dine together as we watch from our bay window during our own mealtime.
"Squirrelly Sara" collects every type of squirrel stuffed animal and item that you can imagine and is often referred to as "Squirrel Girl" at school, but she doesn't mind. She gave herself the camp name "Twitchy" while she was a counselor this summer -- just like a squirrel's tail. Her friends and family love her dedication to nature, but the birds in our yard certainly do not!
For a number of years, the United Baptist Church of Annandale has had a problem with squirrels. The squirrels climb the transformer pole on the edge of the property and fry themselves, thus knocking out electricity to the building until the power company resets it.
The squirrels even get into the building. Apparently they are attracted to sound equipment, since they chewed the wires on speakers used for the organ. More recently, two of them got in again and were seen walking across the glass at the front of the baptistery pool. They were chased but not caught. When the organist came in Sunday for the service, she discovered that only one of the two manuals, or keyboards, on the organ worked. The repairman discovered that the squirrels again had chewed the wires to the speakers and this time the wire to the heating thermostat as well.
Repairs are in progress, but the needed part may not be available by Christmas.
Services continue with half an organ. All we want for Christmas is our two manuals.
Simpler Than Trapping
When we moved to Fairfax from the District 12 years ago, we noticed that we had neighbors of many sorts. Of course there were squirrels in the city, but because we had a row house with the obligatory postage-stamp yard, we never got up close and personal with squirrels as we do from the privacy of our deck in McLean.
At first, we were charmed by the wildlife we spotted on a daily basis -- the red fox, the doe and fawn families, the hawks, turtles, snakes and, yes, squirrels. Wanting to attract some flying friends, we placed a lovely bird feeder given to us as a housewarming gift on a pole on our deck. We filled it with wild bird food and soon learned that not only did it attract all manner of birds, but also squirrels. We quickly tired of the bird seed scattered across the deck, requiring that we refill the feeder almost daily. After a few weeks, it became a common sight to find a squirrel hanging upside down from the feeder, trying his best to catch all the seed he was ever so adept at snatching.
We tried just about every squirrel remedy without success. In came our neighbor, Scott Bartram, to the rescue with a "have a heart" trap that would humanely capture the pesky critters. "But what do we do when we catch them?" I wondered. My husband drove the captured squirrels to a wooded lot about a mile from the house. "They'd have to cross the Beltway to get back here," he said.
After one of the squirrels had an encounter with a raccoon while confined in the trap, we decided we didn't have the stomach for this squirrel relocation project any longer. Then a friend told me his simple solution: safflower seed. Squirrels don't like it, and most birds do. So I tried it, and presto! Less scattered seed, less mess and more fun for us watching the birds flock to the feeder.
A Determined Tenant
Our story is more like a cry for help. Almost two years ago, we heard a noise in our attic over our bed. My husband went outside and discovered a squirrel was getting into our attic through a hole under the soffit. He boarded it up. All was quiet for a few days, and then we heard some noise and went outside to look. There was a hole in our siding. I was sure that my husband had locked them in the attic and that they were just trying to get out.
Things were quiet for a while, so last spring we had someone come out and replace the siding -- not cheap. Before replacing it, my husband went into the attic and made sure -- with a foghorn -- that they were out. One week after having the siding replaced, we looked up, and there was a new hole in our siding and a squirrel looking down at us. This time, I was convinced that he wanted his way back in to his "home."
Needless to say, we are irritated at the thought of having to replace the siding again, but not before we are sure the squirrel is gone!
Can't Get There From Here
My 84-year-old stepdad, Jim, developed an inexpensive, ingenious method of keeping those pesky and persistent squirrels from plundering the bird feeders on poles -- the easiest ones for the squirrels to attack. At the same time, this ingenious approach has provided us with lots of laughs just a few feet from the window.
Jim first got an old metal pie pan and drilled a hole in the middle of it. He slid the pie plate up the pole and glued it to the bottom of the bird feeder. He then got a two-foot section of round aluminum pipe about six inches in diameter, the kind used as an exhaust for a wood stove. He slid the piece of pipe up the pole until it reached the metal pie pan and attached it first with super glue and then with screws. Completely gnaw-proof.
Now it is time to pull up a chair to the window near the feeder and watch. The squirrels gaze up from the ground and can see the feeder full of sunflower seeds right above them. They see the birds enjoying themselves. One squirrel hurriedly goes up the pole and disappears into the pipe. A second or two later, out it comes. Seems there was a dead end inside the pipe. The squirrel goes down the pole and seems to confer with another squirrel.
Okay, team effort this time. Two squirrels go up the pole, and both disappear into the pipe. Seconds later, two heads appear out of the bottom of the pipe, and the squirrels crane their necks to see their prize merely two feet away on the far side of the pipe. This scene is repeated, sometimes with three squirrels teaming up for a show of force.
And yet, alas, for these hungry squirrels, the bird feeder full of tasty sunflower seeds is just a pipe dream!
Barbara (Willt) Serban
The World of Nature
We inherited several bird feeders from the previous owner when we purchased our house. It seemed that the sunflower seed in the middle feeder was disappearing quite rapidly. It was my niece who solved the mystery of how the squirrel managed to get to the columnar feeder in spite of the squirrel-proof canister that guarded it from ground attacks.
Much to our surprise, he had figured out how to use a distant tiny holly tree as a catapult. He would lean back on his hind legs, bend the tree backward practically to the ground, and then hurl himself forward and upward as the tree swung back to its original position. Having landed on the feeder, he would hang upside down by his hind legs and feast away.
One morning, however, our neighborhood fox, having apparently watched the squirrel's routine, lay waiting in the nearby bushes. The squirrel really stuffed himself that day and was a little slower than usual as he dismounted from the feeder to the ground.
The fox was waiting for him and was able to provide a hearty dinner for his family.
A Really Bad Place to Nest
Last Thanksgiving, as the family sat down for dinner, I started a fire. The ambiance was wonderful, but the smell drove us outside. I later discovered a squirrel had chewed through the wooden chimney enclosure and had become lodged in the space between the flue and the liner. We ate dinner in our winter clothing with the doors and windows open.
I thought all was well after removing the squirrel, but much to our horror another squirrel climbed down the chimney and nested. I dismantled the front of the fireplace and set a trap. I also paid $500 to screen the wooden flue enclosure. About two weeks went by and still noises from the squirrel, but no luck with the trap.
On returning home one day, we were greeted by overturned items everywhere in the house. Uh-oh, she was loose. We found her two days later near death from starvation and turned her loose in the yard. She immediately ran back to the chimney top and squeezed into the opening between the flue and liner. We paid to have the top of the chimney screened in.
About a week later the trap worked, and we released her at a church several miles away, hoping she would get religion. But unbeknown to us, she had given birth to several young ones in the chimney. Obviously, they did not survive without mom, and after we put the fireplace back together we were dismayed to be driven from the house again by the smell.
We did not celebrate Thanksgiving at home this year. Just in case.
Ken and Carol Weiss