My yard is infested with wildlife. Now I know that’s a pretty strong word, infested, and probably not a nice thing to say about wildlife, but its true just the same. When I first moved to the area, I enjoyed the added critters in my yard that you don’t get so much in the city. Rabbits darting back and forth, the squirrels borrowing in the rock wall, the quail families running in rows, tallest to smallest, the woodpecker moving in over the door by drilling into the eaves. But then, almost at once, they over-stayed their welcome. The little buggers are pretty destructive neighbors.
It started the day I planted a beautiful blue and white flowering, some kind of perennial, in the flower garden in the front. I watered and fertilized it carefully for a day or so. The next thing I know, its gone. I mean it was a foot and half high and that morning it was gone. The plant was cut down to the roots. You could almost see the smile on the face of the rabbit I spotted sitting in the corner of the lawn.
“Jack, I’m going to kick your ass,” I screamed. He sat there smiling. I swear.
At that moment, the woodpecker dive-bombed me. Birds do that to me for some reason. When I was little, robins would swoop down from the sky and peck me on the head like an Indian counting coup. There are still living witnesses to this. I remember one time when I was living in Laramie, Wyoming, I used to walk home from work past this teacher’s retirement home that had a boatload of trees along the front. Crows would start calling out as I approached, then swoop down on me as I ran for the cover of my apartment. People said it was my aftershave. Any of you English Leather wearers in the 70s have the same problem? It scared the bejesus out of me. In the evenings sometimes, I would go to the golf practice range by my house and hit balls. When I would go to pick them up the ravens would swoop down on the ball and stand there daring me to pick it up. I’m not making this up. I would swing my golf club in an arc and curse at them. They would jump back a little and then walk at me. Scary. You’ve seen the Hitchcock thriller “The Birds” right?
Anyway, every day at lunch I would hear the woodpecker working on the round vent in the eave, trying to make it bigger so he could move in. It sounded like someone had taken a jack hammer to the roof. I would run out cursing at “Woody” and he would take a wide swoop across the yard and wait me out. After a few minutes, I would go back in to resume my lunch and the jack hammering would start again. I finally installed some aluminum vent plates to the eaves around the house. “Woody” gave up.
The birds are nice, but they shit all over the front of the house, move into the loose corner shakes and openings in the cedar shake roof along the eaves. I have one window in the back bedroom, you can’t even see out of for the white dripping spatters all over the glass. I power wash it once a month, and within days its right back to the bird shit look. One set of sparrows or wrens or whatever, I’m not a bird watcher, moved into the attic over the master bath. Last year they lost a baby down the wall. Obviously unable to get it out, we listened to the bird in the wall crying (well, it sounded like crying) for two days. Then it stopped. Come on, I wasn’t going to tear into a wall to find a bird that was too stupid to stay in the nest. I didn’t see much future for him in the wild. The scratching sound in the ceiling during the spring sounds like rats, but we know what it is.
The quail, hundreds of them, burrow into the ground around your yard. They like the cool dirt after you’ve watered in the morning. It looks like there has been a bombing run along the perimeters of the yard where I am trying to grow seed, as well as the flower beds. Every week I go out there and rake the areas smooth and put in more seed. Every day, the bomb craters return. If I liked to eat quail at all, my problem would be solved.
I was told that squirrels could be forced to move from your rock wall by spreading a little fox urine around. You’d think fox urine would be difficult to get, but not so. I mean how do you collect fox urine? I’m told it’s a synthetic odor. There is a lot of it available, and coyote urine, and other types of predator urine and well, here’s the thing, its not cheap (you can get a gallon of it for $58.99) and it only works for a few days so you have to go around spreading the urine every few days. I’ve come up with a solution, but am afraid to carry it out. I could pee in the yard every few days. Have a beer or two and spread some major predator urine around the flower beds and the rock wall in front. Might even work on that skunk.
I can see it now. “I’m protecting my yard from squirrels, officer. That’s all.” WTF