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Miranda Hodgson

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Grey squirrels and young birds visit the garden

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 02 Jul 2012 at 11:17 AM

Grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) visit the garden regularly – there is plenty of wild food for them here – nuts, fruit and seeds. The growing number of tree peony (Paeonia lutea) seedlings springing up in the lawn is the result of their burying the seeds, though whether they come back and eat any, I have yet to discover. The plump little seedlings are carefully dug up and put in pots; I have no idea what I’ll do with them all. As far as bought food goes, the peanuts are reserved for the small birds and woodpeckers – a squirrel can empty a peanut feeder in less than half a day, whilst it will take the birds up to a week. We’ve had a squirrel-proof nut feeder for some years but I’d never seen it in action before the other day.


The way it works is that the squirrel climbs down the wire to the feeder and finds its hands on a weight-activated metal tube – the squirrel’s weight causes the tube to slide down over the nuts and the momentum deposits squirrel, unharmed, onto the lawn below.




Speaking of woodpeckers, the great spotted woodpeckers were seen introducing a young one to the peanut feeder a week or so ago and the young are now visiting it on their own. They are still very nervous and refuse to be photographed, but will no doubt gain confidence as they mature.

Meanwhile, the garden is once again full of young blackbirds (Turdus merula). They like to sit under the boughs of the Magnolia tree and there they cheep for their parents, who dutifully come to them with insects, worms and cherries.



Young blackbird waiting for its supper


The male blackbird we named Fred last year is still with us and he has been feeding his young ones in the courtyard. We’ve seen him wriggling into the strawberry patch and have been putting out pieces of apple for him, which both he and the young birds clearly relish. Fred himself has become quite tame and calmly watches human activity from a short distance. He’s been known to follow one of us into the greenhouse, to peer into the car boot from a suitable perch and he also has a habit of flying extremely low over my head as I work at the outside potting bench. I’ve seen him doing the same to robins and have wondered if it’s a deliberate prank. Birds do play, after all; is this blackbird humour? 


Anonymous said:

Miranda.  Once again.  Thank you for arefreshing comment.  Apart from sharing horticultural knowledge.  It really is great fo me, at having found a fellow, oops! lady, who also has a great love for the natural world.  I have a family of Grey's that vist my tiny garden.  From my kitchen window, I look down onto my garden. I have a pair, husband and wife of the fox family.  My late dear wife, named all the foxes that visited us.  Likewise our tree dwelling friends, Mr and Mrs Toby's.  As you might recall from an email I sent, re; G Spotted woodpecker.  I have a cross-bar from the fence to a center point.  Tobys, come along to the peanut feeder suspended from it.  It's amazing how these little creatures soon realise that they are safe with you. I talk to them, and direct them to kernals that I have thrown down.  Val and I actually hand reared two baby Tobys.  The last one died at the age of fourteen years.

Your reference to the garden.  Is it a garden that you are employed at, or is it actually your own garden?

Best wishes.


on 03 Jul 2012 at 12:32 AM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thank you for your kind comments, Mike. I regard the garden visitors as a sort of extended family and am pleased to see nearly all of them. Fred is the current favourite, though.

When I write about 'the' garden, it's the one at home, my delightful playground.

on 05 Jul 2012 at 01:12 PM