Shortly after moving into our Saint Augustine home, my wife, Cindy, and I moseyed out
to enjoy an afternoon drink out on the lanai. A small natural wildlife preserve backs up
to our yard and, within moments, we spotted a number of pretty birds flitting about the

“We should put up a bird feeder.”

What seemed like a good idea at the time became the initial skirmish in the fluffy-tailed
rodent battle of wits and, believe me, they are smarter than they look. There’s one in
particular, we’ll call her Mama-Kazi, who never gives up on her quest to relieve our
feathered friends of their beloved birdseed.

I hand-crafted our first bird feeder to resemble a greenhouse gazebo about 9 inches
tall with four plexiglass sides and platform perches. I hung it from a 6-foot shepherd’s
hook outside our screened-in lanai and filled it with premium shell-free bird food.
When we plopped down in our Adirondack rocking chairs, Mama-Kazi the squirrel had
already found a perch for stuffing her bucktooth face.

I waved the gray squirrel away from the feeder and she panicked off in a swan dive,
fluffy tail streaming. I returned to my rocker but she immediately reappeared at the
feeder, shimmying up the metal shepherd’s hook with fuzzy-faced defiance to resume
her sunflower feast.

“Get the cooking spray.”

That seemed like a good idea, so I grabbed the can out of the kitchen and trotted out to
the feeder. I swiped Mama-Kazi away again and then sprayed the entire shepherd’s
hook with greasy oil.

With a smug chuckle, I marched back to my seat in the lanai and sure enough, Mama-
Kazi darted back to the shepherd’s hook to begin another ascension.
“Hey, she can still climb it.”

It was true, she did, and it appeared that the oil hadn’t slowed her down. However, a
humdinger thing happened when she reached the top. She reached out a tiny paw to
grasp the hanging feeder but when she did, she promptly slid back down the pole,
clawed hand outstretched like she wanted to introduce herself.
We laughed pretty hard.

She did it again, scurried up the pole, reached the top, extended her hand but then slid
back down the pole in a frozen how-do-you-do.
We laughed even louder but that must have chapped her hide. She glanced around the
yard, spotted the lattice fence along the back and bounded over. She launched off the
fence in a rocket arc that slammed her into the birdfeeder with such force that it rocked
like the bells of Notre Dame. Seed and shocked peanuts scattered the grass.

“How’d she do that?”

“I don’t know. Move the hook and feeder away from the fence.”
I did and it seemed to work for a while but then we spotted her shadow in the grass,
cast from the roof above. The silhouette of her face overlooked the roof, fidgeting and
tilting as she sized up the situation.

Abruptly, the squirrel’s shadow shot off the roof, through the air, and BAM, she
slammed onto the feeder, gripped the swinging seed storm she had rudely created.

To be continued.