9.20 a.m. Titmice and House Sparrows are just about elbowing one another off the feeder. Mourning Doves are sitting below, chowing down. Juncos come. Chickadees. Bluejays. The yard springs to life. Birds are whizzing out of shrubs, taking seeds, returning to their shrubs to devour their tasty morsels, coming back for more. This is awesome.
9.22 a.m. We have just come through a hurricane followed by snowstorm, so I guess it's no wonder that the birds are acting as if they're competing in The Hunger Games. One particularly feisty White-breasted Nuthatch is doing something I've never seen a nuthatch do: every time another nuthatch comes near the feeder, it fans its wings out and hops about doing a long meeeep. To me it sounds like a muppet on Valium, but judging by the effect it's having, this call is clearly very menacing to a rival nuthatch. In contrast to all the avian aggression, when a squirrel appears on the railing of the deck, it looks tremendously relaxed.
9.23 a.m. Squirrels are SO CUTE. It isn't eating any of the bird seed that is being scattered all over the ground. It's sitting there slowly cleaning itself with its paws, just like a cat.
9.24 a.m. Now thoroughly groomed, the squirrel sits back on its haunches, casually takes a sunflower seed, and eats it in a leisurely way. People who hate squirrels and get all antsy about them coming to their bird feeders are so uptight. They're discriminatory species-ists.
10.30 a.m. Time for a cup of tea. I'm so glad Frank put this feeder here near the kitchen window, because now I can watch all these lovely birds. House Sparrows are birds. Wow, that squirrel must have been half starved. The poor thing. It's still in exactly the same place -- slowly, methodically eating.
12.00 p.m. And eating.
1.30 p.m. This squirrel obviously has a glandular problem. It may need to go to the vet.
2.15 p.m. Can squirrels explode?
2.30 p.m. I bring the feeder in for the day, for the animal's own good.
Day 2. 10.00 a.m. What is that sporadic crashing sound? It's like I'm on a ship in a gale and someone forgot to batten a hatch.
10.02 a.m. I think the feeder looks better further away from the house. That way you get a nicer view of the fighty nuthatches . . . and ooh, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, some lovely goldfinches in their subtle winter plumage, and the first House Finch for the yard. Plus, every time the squirrel launched itself from the railing onto the feeder, it nearly crashed through the kitchen window, at risk of injuring itself.
3.30 p.m. Hey, there are three squirrels now.
Day 3. Interesting fact. According to Wikipedia, urban squirrels rarely get to celebrate their first birthday.
Day 4. I return to the breakfast table after going to fill the feeder. "How do you spell 'sod off'?" Frank asks.
"S-O-D . . . O-F-F," I reply.
"It doesn't have a hyphen?" he asks.
"Um, no. Why?"
It's a term you don't hear much around these parts, apparently. A term that, he alleges, I yelled out while filling the bird feeder -- as in, "Sod off, ya' furry bastard!"
I tell him that in the British colonies, "sod off" is a quaint term of endearment.
Day 5. They sense that we have awoken. I tiptoe through the house, but they know we are here. I think they hear when the rhythm of our breathing changes. They watch. They wait. They line up on the fence in anticipation. There is no escape . . .