First, get a back yard bird feeder. There is a very good chance you’ll be spending more time outside now that you are retired, so you might as well make it as much fun as possible. Position the feeder so that you can see it from a window, and you are guaranteed year-round entertainment.
Even my husband who is more bird-ignorer than bird-watcher finds the feeder interesting. And who wouldn't? This spring, we cleaned and re-hung it, and our yard was immediately filled with drama. Gangs of grackles and starlings lost no time asserting Mafia-like control. They cleaned us out of expensive mixed seed and then swarmed the peanut wreath that was intended to attract blue jays.
Peanuts? Did you say peanuts? Soon every squirrel within a three block radius was swinging from the wreath. It was starlings versus squirrels until the peanuts vanished and it was time for an intervention! We substituted nyger seed for nuts, added a squirrel baffle, and finessed the feeder so that heavier birds were out of luck. Now we can sit on the deck in the sunshine, sip a drink, and watch well behaved finches, chickadees and cardinals as they flit from tree to tree before swooping down for a snack.
What we didn’t anticipate, however, was the action under the feeder. The scavenger squirrels are on the ground now, and they have brought their stripey chipmunk cousins with them. I’m sure baby rabbits are not interested in fallen seeds, but perhaps they hope that with all the scrabbling about we won’t notice them eating the coneflower buds. On a particularly busy evening, the groundhog will wander by. It all looks like something out of a Disney movie.
In a dark corner of a dark garage, another creature—black and sleek—has ignored the animal antics in the sunny garden. No trifling crumbs dropped from on high for this bandit. He is seeking the mother lode. Why scrounge for leftovers when you can walk into the pantry and help yourself?
And here is my second piece of advice: do not leave the bag of birdseed in an open bucket where any old entrepreneurial rodent can wander in and help himself. Store the seed in a metal bin with a lid. I need to do that myself. And I will -- just as soon as I am convinced that it is once again safe to enter the garage.