Or What Happened to My Bird Seed?
The thief was not who we expected.
We have a bird feeder in our back yard – actually, several of them — just outside our kitchen window. They have brought us color, nature and joy along with cardinals, goldfinches, titmice, blue jays, wrens, juncos, finches, woodpeckers and hummingbirds.
For three straight recent mornings, the feeders were empty. On the first day, I thought we just hadn’t seen a raucous feeding of birds the prior evening. On day two, I thought it a bid odd. On day three, I knew something was amiss.
Our feeders are spring loaded. If a large bird or a mammal steps on the perch, a door closes the feed area. That’s led to some acrobatic innovation in the general squirrel population throughout the woods and creek behind our house, but no particular problems. Since our common, local birdfeeder visitors are not night feeders, we started wondering who was visiting in the dark. We considered a flying squirrel, lighter in weight than our daytime gray squirrels, and a Park Authority naturalist suggested a deer. At Hidden Oaks Nature Center, deer have been seen nosing bird feeders sideways and emptying them in a matter of seconds.
The thought of seeing a deer nose its way to a meal was attractive, so we decided to set up a video camera on a tripod inside the kitchen window to catch the burglary as it happened. That very first night, just as I was unleashing our dog following an evening walk, it struck.
It was not a squirrel.
It was not a deer.
It was not the neighbor down the street who also has a bird feeder.
We caught the culprit on camera:
Author David Ochs is the Manager of Stewardship Communications for the Resource Management Division of the Fairfax County Park Authority.