Essay: Black Squirrel

Jan 2, 2021

After careful scrutiny, the black squirrel figures out how to leap from the spruce tree to our bird feeder.  There, he hangs upside down and empties out the seed at his leisure. 

Meanwhile, the chickadees, finches, and nut hatches watch this invader from nearby  rooftops.  But they make no effort to challenge his authority.

I make an effort—and trundle out the back door in my robe and slippers, clapping my hands and hollering until the squirrel retreats.  What we both know, of course, is that it’s only a token retreat.  Before I’ve even closed the door, the squirrel is positioning himself for another leap and feast.  His audacity will outlast my outrage every time.

What I don’t understand is, Why don’t the birds gang up on him?  He’d abandon the feeder in a flash if a few of them staged a bombing mission.  They have more power than they know.  That’s why the neighborhood bully eats their lunch—because nobody confronts him. 

I wish I’d known this about neighborhood bullies when I was a kid.  Maybe that’s why I clap my hands and holler today.  Still trying to take back my power.