11.21.2006

Of Squirrels and Sons

Our neighbors gave us a really neat bird feeder that hangs by suction cups on the window to the back yard. I grew up in a place where there were basically two kinds of birds: robins in the spring and magpies year round. Here, there is a magnificent assortment of birds, and the boys love to watch the little things land and take seeds and fly away again. David helps them look up the birds in a little bird book so they know what kind they are.

The Carolina wrens have been known to form lines in the tree a few feet a way and take turns at the feeder. And an occasional cardinal (Calvin's favorite) or woodpecker stops in. Some of the birds even act like hummingbirds, flapping their wings like crazy to hover while their little friends take their turns getting seeds.

We liked the feeder a lot because we thought it was squirrel proof - and it has been for almost a year now. Then a bushy tailed rodent figured out how to scale the drain pipe and brick wall next to the window and leap 2 feet across to the bird feeder.

At first he balanced precariously in the little hole where the birds feed and munched while holding on for dear life with his hind feet. (I bet you've never fixed red-eye in a photo of a squirrel before - to tell you the truth, it kinda creeped me out!)Then he figured out that if he leapt to the top of the bird feeder, hopped on the outside edge where the hinge is, held on to the bottom of the feeder while the top door opened, then he could twist his way up to the top and enjoy a real feast. The graceful but mangy creature then proceeded to bark at any bird who even dared come near, and started devouring all the sunflower seeds and spitting the shells back into the birdfeeder. After which he got really sure of himself and started doing acrobatics while munching.

This shot was my favorite, hanging upside down, holding a seed in his little paws and munching away.

It was fascinating and somewhat riveting to watch a squirrel literally inches a way, with only a window pane between us. The boys crawled up on a chair and watched and tapped on the window and the animal was completely unphased. It's like having one's own personal zoo. Or being too close to a glorified rat, if you want to know the truth. But really a nice reprieve from PBS kids.

It did make me want to tell the squirrel about the ants and the grasshopper and that he needed to be putting some away for the winter, because that's what industrious real-world squirrels do. It just amazed me, how smart, dextrous, and agile squirrels are...

Kinda the way Calvin amazes me, how smart and aware he is...

In September, we were taking a friend to the airport, driving along Hwy 1 past the Pentagon to Reagan National. In taking the friend to the airport, we probably mentioned that it was Reagan, just in our conversation, talking about the crazy security lines there and the fact that the runways end abruptly at the tidal basin, etc.

Six weeks later the boys were getting a little restless on the way to David's boss's house and we were driving along the same road. A huge jet was taking off and David pointed it out and told Calvin that we would be seeing the airport tower in just a minute if he would look out his window. As soon as he saw the tower, Cal said, "Hey! This is Reagan!" What kids know and recognize names of different airports? (There are three around here that we've been to.)

And the other day I had a doctor appointment and was taking the boys to a new babysitter in our co-op. We got there a few minutes early and Calvin was reading the numbers on the apartment house building: "Is this her house? It's 1-1-6-6-3." Just then I realized that I had forgotten the paperwork I was supposed to take with me to the doctor and Henry's fringy blanket, which would be important during a naptime sit. So I decided to go back home and get the papers and blanket and come back to the sitter with the boys.

The boys and I talked about other stuff on the way home and back, plus listened to their mind-numbing Little People songs while driving, but when we pulled back into the parking lot at the sitter's house, Cal piped up and said, "Remember, Mom: It's 1-1-6-6-3." Yeah, I was going by memory - it was the building about three buildings in. And Cal was going by this great innovation called an address. That he had taken upon himself to learn and remember.

Maybe other not-quite-four-year-olds recall this kind of stuff, too. I'm just amazed by it every time - the little things he notices, hears, and stores away for future reference.

Some creatures are just capable of squirreling like no other.

10 comments:

Morning Glory said...

That bird feeder is quite a contraption and the pictures you captured of the squirrel are amazing. What a fun thing to watch.

Sometimes I think -- no, I'm sure-- little kids have brains that are sponges. It's astounding what they store away in them.

Cute story!

Anonymous said...

smart kiddo - smart, smart, smart.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you one being amazed at what they learn and remember! Why does that work for things we try to teach them?

Anonymous said...

I meant why does it NOT work?

amerimeximadre said...

there must be something good in the water over there. Smart kids and smart squirrels. I think the glorified rat deserved a few seeds for the show he put on and for figuring out how to get onto and into the bird feeder!

Anonymous said...

great blog ! Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Gina said...

I could have turned that squirrel event into a homeschool unit! How fun!

And I'm truly amazed at what comes out of my 4 1/2 year old's mouth. She has a great memory and learned her phone number in one sitting. She still can recall it weeks later, and we have to tell here NOT to tell her phone number to strangers.

I'm also amazed at her intetest in real movies. We watched Holes last night, and she kept askig intelligent questions like she was really following the story line.

Then tonight half way through Survivor she asks "Is anyone going to Egsile island?" She'd been playing with her dolls on the floor and I had no idea she was paying attention to the show.

It's amazing how much these little guys soak up!

Mommy Dearest said...

The squirrel pictures are fascinating! My parents enjoyed the squirrels as much as the birds (my mom passed away 2 years ago, but my dad still feeds the squirrels). The weird thing is that the only thing my dad has ever read on my blog is a tribute post to my mother from the beginning of June. He sent me an email reply Wednesday night to an email I had sent him months ago with a link to the blog. He sent me the following reply: "After reading about the squirrels, even though you didn’t write it, you now know why squirrels are some of my favorite birds." NOW I GET IT! He linked to your blog off of mine, and read this post! My dad doesn't read my blog, but I think he read yours!

No Cool Story said...

What in the world? I missed 3 posts :(

Anyway, "...And Cal was going by this great innovation called an address", he's a little man in training.
I'm going to have to borrow him or something, not just for the cute factor, but also because I have terrible-awful memory, I forget everything.
He'll keep me straight.

Squirrels: They are a pest, but cute looking and very entertaining.

kfk said...

Those pesky squirrels sure have determination. And that is one cool birdfeeder. I'm going to look for that for my husband's birthday. Any idea on the name?

And yes, kids are amazing on almost a daily basis.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It is nice to see new "faces"!