2020 Mid-Year Bright Spots

As bad as 2020 has been in many ways it’s also had some small, fleeting bright spots that apparently hide in plain sight. Patience rewards the seeker of joy from an angst-ridden, pandemic-induced lethargy/panic/depression/<affliction>.

A tremendous amount of work has been put into making the back yard a pleasant place to be. Things that were hated earlier in life have become therapy in this climate of worry and fear – like weeding the flower beds or mowing the grass. Chores that made bile rise in the throat. But it’s a different world and those chores allow the mind to be idle, though the sweat and heat are sometimes unbearable here in Oklahoma… Bird feeders of all types have been hung around the yard and the bird bath and feeders refilled daily. “Birding” has become a new passion! 

This morning there were at least two dozen House Sparrows in the yard around the feeder and on the ground (I love when a dozen of them get together on the ground and take dirt baths!), along with Mourning Doves and a Eurasian Collared Dove, Blue Jays, Robins, House Finches, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, a half-dozen squirrels, and several Hummingbirds. Mississippi Kites fly overhead much of the day looking for insects or small animals to eat, and a pack of geese flies over in the mornings toward Braden Park and the pond where they summer.

I love watching hummingbirds. (I replaced the previous, poor picture with a better shot.)

But in the past several weeks it’s become irritating to watch the squirrels climb down to the bird feeder and dump seed out on the ground in great quantities. Making loud noises out the window scared them off for a few minutes but it was always a short-lived victory. The solution was surely going to be the wrist rocket slingshot that came from Amazon with 1,500 small, clay, biodegradable balls of pain that would inspire them to seek more fertile grounds.

Aiming is more difficult than it sounds so practice was required. After a week or so taking pot shots at the wind chime near the feeder it was time to sting squirrel. There was some concern about the cruelty factor of this endeavor but it passed.

The lesson learned is that squirrels are stupid and only aware of what’s going on around them in the most primitive of ways. If a red, clay bullet missed them by half an inch, they didn’t budge, even though they surely must have heard the whiz and felt the wind from it. They seemed oblivious. 
However, if a hawk shaped shadow passed along the ground, they suddenly disappeared in the trees.

After repeated attempts a bullet finally found its mark and hit squarely on the left front shoulder as a squirrel descended a tree head first. Oh, it must have stung! He was about two feet from the ground and when the ball of pain struck the squirrel dropped to the ground irritably and took up the hunt for black oil sesame seeds hiding in the red mulch. He hardly noticed! All the effort spent on slingshot mastery was for nothing.

Defeated by squirrel stupidity it seems… That thought stings worse than getting hit by a small, clay slingshot bullet. Probably. The best course of action is likely just to give them a little food to keep them off the bird feeders. This all may not sound much like a bright spot to anyone else, but it’s been a great distraction for a couple of weeks and therefore a victory.

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