… trail mix.
As you know from prior posts, I met my walking goal (1,255 miles/2,020 kilometers) on November 29th. That was the earliest ever for me and I really pushed myself over Thanksgiving holiday weekend, since I had time for four leisurely walks and the weather was clear and dry. I even incorporated a 10K virtual walk into the mix.
On that long trek on November 29th I walked seven miles/11 kilometers, so I figured it was the perfect time to take some pictures of my furry and feathered friends at the Safe Haven Tree since I would be going ‘round and ‘round repeatedly on the walking loop, and, thus could monitor them enjoying their treats with both my eyes and the camera.
I decided to add a special treat to pique the peanut pals’ interest.
Believe me … I thought long and hard how to provide peanuts to the furry and feathered pals over our harsh Michigan Winter, especially with the picnic tables in the pavilion area gone and Cooper’s Hawks lurking. Safety-wise I had already trained the squirrels since October to look for food beneath the Safe Haven Tree. With that step accomplished, next I needed to keep them interested by putting the food up higher when the snow began a’ flyin’. So I crept under the tree to take pictures of the branches so I could study the photos to see what feeder(s) worked best. My solution was to buy two feeders: a small suet/treat dish and a wooden platform feeder, both to be hung under the tree and secured so the critters would not knock them down.
But I had to start out small …
… until they were used to seeing the dish and what it was used for. Then later, once the snow began in earnest, I’d bring the larger, wooden platform feeder and fill it with peanuts and use this smaller feeder for seeds or suet. Satisfied, I had it all figured out, I even mentioned my plan to Arnie and Joe, two others who also have been doling out peanuts to the squirrels. As an incentive to visit the new feeder, I filled it with trail mix. Yes, it was healthy for them – I shared some of mine I’d just made up that morning.
I bought hanging hooks and a chain as I wasn’t sure what would work better to suspend the two feeders from different tree branches. Well, the hanger hooks didn’t work as I knocked against the hook and the whole set-up fell down, spilling trail mix onto the ground.
No worries … it wouldn’t go to waste. In fact a couple of Blue Jays positioned themselves in a nearby tree, eager for me to move on, so they could move in and get some nuts and berries.
I had also brought along a small bird feeder chain, that luckily I bought when I got the feeders. I wrapped it around the tree, secured the feeder and clicked the hook shut – it was good and secure. No bored squirrels or birds would be messing with this feeder and it would stay put (or so I thought).
I had even brought extra trail mix along, so I refilled the blue feeder to the top, then stood back and took photos of the set-up under the tree from two different angles.
By now, a few squirrels had positioned themselves nearby, anxious to get first dibs on the peanuts, when they heard me jiggling the cellophane wrapper. This rattling of the wrapper is a ritual that would be the same as me ringing the dinner bell for the critters.
I scattered the peanuts, then grabbed the camera. I was looking for a shot of a Cardinal or two to go into this post. I was hopeful when Mister Cardinal and his Missus were early guests and landed on the nearby chain-link fence, even before I had time to unpack all the goodies. Obviously I took too long, so off they went in search of grubs, never to return.
Patience was a virtue to those furry and feathered pals who endured the wait and they all hurried over when I stepped away to resume my walk.
The Jay showed an interest in the trail mix. I guess it was easier to grab a cashew, than have to take a peanut up to the branch, hold it in your foot and stab the shell with your beak, just to retrieve the nut.
Parker surveyed the trail mix. I could imagine the thought bubble “Hmm, do I want a carrot or tomato Goldfish cracker or a cashew?” He checked out all the snacks, but moved on.
That’s because Parker thought this was newfangled stuff – he preferred peanuts and wondered why I was wasting his time; trail mix is for hikers, not squirrels in his humble opinion.
Puff knew exactly what he wanted and opted for a peanut from the get-go.
As did Fluff who is pictured up top.
On my last lap, most of peanuts had disappeared from under the tree, but as alluded to above, the peanuts would not be the only thing to disappear.
After multiple trips around the Figure-8 walking loops, always with my camera in hand, and more peanuts dispensed as necessary, I was surprised the squirrels and birds had not yet tried the goodies in the feeder, although I had witnessed the woodpecker as he inched up the tree for a look-see. Eventually Rex settled on a peanut in the shell instead.
I headed for home. I knew I likely would not return until Friday, if not Saturday, as the weather folks predicted about a half-foot of snow arriving the next day (instead, we had 3 1/2 inches which subsequently melted in the warm temps).
When I finally returned to the Park Friday morning, I had a Ziploc bag filled with more trail mix and black oiler sunflower seeds for the blue dish. I was eager to see if they ate what I left Sunday.
To my surprise, the chain had been removed from the tree and the empty dish had been thrown on the ground, but not under the tree. Obviously the squirrels and birds had not removed the chain, nor taken it. I was irritated, but put the blue feeder beneath the tree and emptied the contents of the Ziploc bag into it and spread out some peanuts.
I continued on my walk and decided the feeder could stay on the ground for good now. However, a few days later, the blue feeder was the next item to go missing. I scanned the grass and pathway and it was nowhere to be found. There will be one more post with the blue dish before it went MIA. The wooden platform feeder will NOT be going to the Park and hopefully the snow does not pile up too much under the tree. It is not my memorial tree, but given the fact that the tree looks unkempt and unloved, I’m pretty sure the owners are not regular visitors to the Park and therefore had nothing to do with this. My solution may be I must tramp down the snow so peanuts don’t disappear into the snow when scattered on top.
The moral of the story is … sometimes ideas are better left in your brain or on paper.