My Backyard Kids, furry and feathered

martys_joyApril 6, 2008

I live in S.E. Michigan. I just bought my house late summer last year. I am blessed with many Tree's as high as you can possibly attempt to see ... You will lose your balance if you try to see their tops. Both in my front and back yard.

I am on a dead end with little or no car traffic. Its all beautiful. I have Squirrel Condo's in my trees( thats what I call them) they are everywhere. I have Red, Brown, Grey, Black, calico, Squirrels in my yard daily.

I just wish they would use dumpster's :). I have dropped leaves 12 mos out of the year just from the Squirrels ..very busy they are.

I have Rabbits, Chipmunks, and every Beautiful Bird imaginable that visit daily as well.

I have two Bird feeders, that I fill consistently. I don't have a problem with the Squirrels raiding the feeders because I feed the squirrels every day.

I buy a quality Bird feed and Squirrel Feed. I know the bird seed is fine. What I worry is that I am not benefiting my Squirrels by the food I offer.

Its a mix of corn, sunflower seed and whole peanuts. If I have fruit or veggies that are going on bad, that I cannot eat .. I will put it out for them. Nothing rotten or that has mold.

In Bulk Form - does anyone have suggestions of what is Better for Squirrels? Just today I can say at one time I had 15 squirrels playing, eating, having a Ball in my back yard.

So many New friends came today and they looked like they have been through world war 3. Its been a rough winter here for them. I am so HAPPY Spring has finally come.

I know one thing that I don't have in my yard is Mosquitoes. I really think its because I feed the Birds and Squirrels and they Use my yard as a hang out. I had not one Mosquito bite last year working in my yard. And Michigan is Famous for them. It's a good thing :)

Thank You

K

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davek913(Z5 Northern IN)

Squirrels generally find plenty in nature to eat so what we give them is something of a treat, easy to find food. Peanuts are fine as long as they're unsalted and they also like sunflower seeds, cracked corn and fruit. I feed ours all three but mostly the peanuts, cracked corn and sunflower seeds. The fruit(Apples, bananas) I give them infrequently since it's a little more expensive and not something I want them to grow accustomed to eating.

I buy bulk peanuts from a local garden center. They're feed peanuts and I buy them fifty pounds at a time for around a dollar a pound. I give them the striped sunflower seeds. They're bigger and they get more out of them than the black oil sunflower seeds. They're a little more economical than peanuts as well. If you buy cracked corn, don't get more than you'll use. If it sits for a long time it will start to get moldy and you'll likely end up with bunches of little moths.

Like you, we have around a dozen or so daily visitors. They come around anywhere from 8 in the AM to 7, sometimes 8 at night. Fifty pounds of peanuts lasts us anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 months. On average, probably one pound a day.

Our garden center also sells shelled peanuts that are actually cheaper than the unshelled. Overall, more food for the money, but I've found they have a little more trouble in the winter when it's snowed and we throw them out there. They go right down into the snow. The unshelled ones will usually stay on top or go part way down and since they're larger, they're easier for them to find. It also allows them to take it up into the tree away from the snow to eat. Our grandaughter and little niece like watching them eat the unshelled ones as well. They'll sit right there and systematically strip the shell away and hold the nut above it like a little ice cream cone or something.

Those cute little chipmunks are h-o-a-r-d-e-r-s, especially in the fall. If you throw the unshelled ones out, they'll stuff 8 or 9 in their mouths, take them back to their den and be back for more by the time a squirrel has eaten one or two. Throwing out the unshelled ones, they'll take two or three away and be back by the time a squirrel has eaten or buried one. Remember that when you put a bunch of food out because you might think you're putting out enough for everyone, but the chipmunks might feel otherwise. :-)

Bulk peanuts, striped sunflower seed or cracked corn can be found at some garden centers and most certainly a feed store if you have one around. Unsalted is important because salt increases their already rapid hear rates.

I have one caveat for you and I'm by no means assuming you're naive or anything, but we can't protect our "yard pets" from nature. I've seen stray cats, raccoons and different kinds of hawks take runs at our little creatures. There have been times when they've been successful and I've seen it happen as well as stumbled across the end result. It's easy to become somewhat attached to them and can be something of a shock when something like that does happen. We occasionally have flying squirrels in our yard at night, with one that made regular nightly visits to the jar squirrel feeder we have in one tree by the house. One day I woke up and found the poor little fellow in the yard. It about broke my heart, but you just have to remember it's nature and steel yourself for such things.

We keep our dogs and cats inside at night, safe from predators but once we shut the doors or turn off the lights we can't do the same for our outdoor visitors. You may never see or come across anything but be prepared for the possibility. It's sad when it does happen, but in the long run it doesn't diminish the feeling I get from seeing them running across the yard or sitting there waiting for a treat.

Now that I've gotten past the gloom and doom part, enjoy your extended family! I've enjoyed hundreds of smiles from our little critters and expect hundreds more in the years to come.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 1:39AM
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