Nature’s furry acrobats are a ‘hoot’ to watch

We didn’t have to go out of town to see the circus.

It came to our own backyard, complete with clowns and acrobats.

The acrobatic moves were made by the clowns, furry performers who kept us laughing as we watched the various contortions and feats of daring-do they displayed at our bird feeders.

You know that the return of real winter weather with snow and deep-dipping cold gripping the landscape is tough on people - and also on the variety of wildlife that lack the ability to come inside and enjoy the fireside warmth. To fuel their body furnaces, they have to eat. So finding food is their prime reason to be out and moving about. Or in our case, literally “hanging around.”

We’re talking about Gray squirrels, feeder robbers first class, who can use their nails, teeth, tails, and muscular limbs to do their criminal work. He focused on one feeder that was suspended by a wire from an over-hanging branch. Hanging by his hind legs and tail he stretched down to reach the feeder top and dropped there to hang over the side to reach in and pull or shake out the seed.

When the supply in that feeder ran out he moved his act to another feeder, this hung in a cage from a steel pipe. With toes nimble enough to lace shoes, he clung upside down and poked his toenails inside the cage to pluck out the seeds, one at a time, and doing so in no particular hurry.

Seeking to frustrate his efforts, we repositioned a feeder so it hung farther down from any limb. “No problem,” the furry thief seemed to say in his body’s non-verbal manner. He slid down the wire like a fireman sliding down a station house brass pole and proceeded to hang on the feeder in a variety of ways that would put our high-priced sunflower seeds into his mouth at an ever-increasing rate.

Perhaps we’ll get a little break from the robberies. This is a time when the first mating urge begins to get squirrels to chasing each other around the trees – males chasing away other males or boy squirrels chasing girl squirrels. This first sign of love in bloom may divert some of the thievery. On the other hand it can build an appetite from all the exercise.

While the rising cost of sunflower seed may become a luxury for some, we will still put it out for the birds, fully understanding that once it is placed it also becomes fair game for the furry acrobats of Washington Street – and some of their wildlife friends from the nearby woodlots.

We’ll watch from the vantage of a warmer interior as we observe the avian regulars and those clowns from Nature’s circus we call squirrels as they come to rob us blind at the feeders. Strike that word “blind.” When the furry acrobats are at work, we want to watch them with open eyes so we won’t miss the fun.