Near my breakfast nook window, a wooden bird feeder hangs from a sturdy tree limb. In the mornings I enjoy sitting at the table, drinking coffee and watching the many varieties of birds come to feed. However, there is one major problem! My backyard has obviously been home to many generations of squirrels, and they also come to enjoy the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder. Since their appetites are much heartier than that of the birds, they can deplete the feeder in one day. In addition, the squirrels hinder the birds from coming to feed.
Since the feeder hangs from a long thin cord, it isn’t that easy for the squirrels to get to it. Some of them have become experienced acrobats in the process. Many times I watch them cautiously climb down the thin leather cord and hang by one paw upside down to eat. Other times, they will jump completely onto the feeder and steal seeds. Usually, I get up from my chair and go pound on the window. They quickly drop to the ground and scurry away – for the time being. Very courageous little creatures they are!
One morning I saw a large squirrel crawling down the tree limb advancing toward the bird feeder. I was about to pound on the window before it reached its destination when I noticed something unique. Following the large squirrel were two baby squirrels. She was bringing them for a lesson on how to eat from a bird feeder! I watched as she slowly inched her way down the cord, jumped onto the feeder and got sunflower seeds. The baby squirrels were clinging tenaciously to the limb; they were afraid to attempt the feat their mom had just exampled. Eventually, the mother climbed back up to them, and they left the tree. She didn’t give up just because they were afraid the first day. The family continued returning, the babies growing larger each day. You guessed it! One day a brave baby climbed down the cord toward the feeder. He jumped; he missed the feeder and hit the ground. Fortunately for him, the ground beneath the feeder is padded with jasmine and English ivy. He survived the fall and climbed back up the tree. Both baby squirrels fell many times before they perfected the art their mom was trying to teach them. They were so cute that I could not bring myself to pound on the window when they came to the feeder.
What is the seed for thought here? Well, simply that bird feeders are not intended for squirrels. It is risky business for squirrels to hang from bird feeders. This particular mother squirrel was teaching her babies something they should not have been taught. She was encouraging them to do something that might have injured them for life. I merely pound on the window to scare squirrels away. Other members of my family have been known to use more “deadly” methods!
The squirrel family has caused me to think more carefully about my own children. What are my daily examples teaching those I love? Is what I am teaching healthy? Is it safe? Will what I am teaching make them a better person? Do my examples encourage honesty? Are my words and actions building integrity and character? Do I want what I am teaching to be passed on to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren?
These are just some seeds for thought from the bird feeder!