Bird Brains

A squirrel stole one of the plastic eggs in our backyard Easter Egg hunt a few years back. We did not respond by shooting it.

Twice this week, I’ve seen people respond to online posts with suggestions of killing suburban backyard animals. What’s wrong with people?

Yesterday, someone posted to ask for advice on removing squirrels from her attic. Some of us who have faced that challenge suggested that she spend the money to get professional help. You may be able to trap and remove them yourself, but keeping squirrels out permanently just might require the experts.

I was surprised at the number of people who suggested shooting the squirrels. I like to be the voice of reason rather than of outrage. So I was one of those who replied, factually, that doing so is illegal in some places. You would think nobody could argue with an objective statement of fact. Yet, one of the responses was to shoot them anyway, because squirrels can damage your wiring, and probably nobody would find out that you’d shot them and report you to the authorities. Yes, I understand that squirrels in the attic can do damage. I was not suggesting that anyone should allow squirrels to remain, but clearly recommended hiring professional wildlife-removal experts.

It floors me that so many people believe there is nothing wrong with shooting at squirrels or anything else in a densely populated area.

This dove on the roof of our bird feeder most likely pooped in my yard. Remarkably, we refrained from poisoning the bird and its friends.

Hard on the heels of that controversy came another one, on a different site. This morning, a woman posted about how disturbed she was by the bird feeders in her next-door neighbor’s yard. The feeders attract a lot of birds, who poop in her yard and in her swimming pool. Some respondents suggested, reasonably, that she get a fake owl statue or hang shiny CDs in the trees. Others said she should report the neighbor to her city or county authorities, or call the police. I said by all means she should check local ordinances; there might be restrictions on the number and placement of bird feeders. But it’s also possible that the neighbor is doing nothing illegal. If that’s the case, all she can do is try to persuade the neighbor to move the bird feeders. If the neighbor refuses, all she can do is attempt to protect her own property with the owl statues, shiny CDs, and so forth.

Then came the more extreme responses. Scoop up the bird poop from her own yard and dump it in the neighbor’s yard. Get a lot of cats or dogs to keep in her yard. Go onto the neighbor’s property, pull down the bird feeders, and leave them at the front door with a note. Poison the birds. Shoot the birds.

These are birds we’re talking about. Regular, ordinary, backyard songbirds. Have people always been this unreasonable?

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