Backyard Brunch

Two days ago, I was flattered by the reduction in my latest home-made suet block. It had gone from nearly full size to quarter-size in less than a week. Yesterday, I discovered a different reason — not a dramatic increase in the attentions of woodpeckers and chickadees, as I’d imagined — for the disappearance of my Hamhock-Sunflower Surprise.

Crows. Two of them. The blighters hopped up to a higher branch, pounced on the suet cage, stomped a few times and whacked their beaks against it, and then swooped to the ground to gather what had fallen.

They returned this morning. Here is one of them, between the oak and the suet spruce. In the top of this photo, you might notice a glitch in their plans. Would you like a close up?

A Grey Squirrel. Compared with my previous homes in Toronto, Saint John has few of these critters, so I didn’t try to scare it off. I approached it quietly, taking snapshots…

…but it didn’t quite trust me. Off it scampered with a flash of its white underside and a wave of its pink paw. Then one of the rightful diners appeared on a twig of the oak.

“Isn’t my table ready yet?” the chickadee scolded.

13 Responses to Backyard Brunch

  1. It’s always tough once the riffraff find out about your secret dining spot, isn’t it, my little chickadee?

  2. Alyson says:

    …with a lot of ‘D’oh!’ in the background 🙂

  3. We don’t have many grey squirrels here either. There used to be dozens of them at the GTA feeder. I can’t say I miss them. Now crows, I have an inordinate fondness for. They’re so clever!

  4. lavenderbay says:

    Ooo, Dennis, you could try wearing a top hat! Fitting for a top dog…

    We were all of us some surprised, Alyson.

    There are Red Squirrels within a few blocks of here, Barefootheart; I wonder if their ranges/preferred habitats differ, or whether Grey Squirrels tend to be urban dwellers?
    I like the crows too, but I can’t afford that much suet! Will probably attach the feeder under a plank so that only acrobatic birds can get at it.

  5. livingisdetail says:

    Ahh, crows. I am very fond of them too, but they should learn to share with the others. They are clever birdums though. That grey squirrel looks very cuddly. We have possums that look very cuddly too, but they have great big claws.

  6. lavenderbay says:

    A squirrel might bite, Livingisdetail, but you’d have to catch it first; they outrun most dogs. They also hoard food, which is why they’re disliked by birdfeeder owners. But cute they are.
    I heard about an experiment wherein a crow figured out how to make a tool in order to make a second tool in order to get at some food. I’ll be watching the garage from now on, in case the crows start absconding with the garden trowels and leaf rake.

  7. S. Le says:

    Lovely photos! Congrats on making such a tasty treat!

    We’ve had raccoons tear down the suet cages and open them devouring the contents. Now we have to attach the cage to small branches so the raccoons can’t get them.

  8. Seabrooke says:

    I’m impressed by the ingenuity of the crows in figuring out how to get at the suet when they can’t hang and probably can’t fit their bill through well, either. They’re smart birds.

  9. lavenderbay says:

    I wrap the chain through the lid, S. Le; very fiddly, but it does the trick — though so far, it hasn’t been tested on raccoons. My mum once saw a fox sitting under her low-hanging suet block, and a few days later couldn’t find the cage anywhere!

    Me too, Seabrooke! (I mean, I’m impressed, not I’m a smart bird.) Between them and the squirrel, I need to hit the grocery store for more suet already.

  10. It gets hard to keep feeding suet in the spring. It appeals to a lot of spring arrivals. I’ve never had crows bother it but certainly a starling can empty your suet basket with its strong yellow beak in one or two visits. And those raccoons with their clever little hands can be unstoppable. And then the sun will melt the suet on even a relatively cool day. This is a problem area where the log-style suet feeder works a bit better. But if you can somehow manage to maintain your suet offering into the early summer, you may be rewarded with Mama and Papa Downy bringing the babes. Really cool!

  11. lavenderbay says:

    The Downys are the main reason I’ve wanted to keep the suet feeder going, Barefootheart. They’ve been here for the store boughten, my first homemade attempt that was mainly chicken fat and skin, and this latest mixture of ground ham hock rinds, sunflower seed, dried cranberry and oatmeal. Maybe it’s time to purchase that electric drill!

  12. Tony says:

    Squirrels are so cute, I wish we had them here in Tasmania

  13. lavenderbay says:

    They are cute, Tony, but they’re greedy. Besides gorging on birdseed, squirrels are noted for digging up flower bulbs and biting the tops off tulips. Naughty critters.

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