A disgusting mixture of mold, black oil sunflower seed, and murky water was smeared in the cracks of our barbeque. Unused for an year and rapidly clouding, the hummingbird nectar sitting under my bed screamed the same neglect. Another testimony towards how disorganized I am, I thought, and sighed, as I hurled the nectar in the trash and picked out sunflower shells from the storm drains. Maybe that’s why the finch traffic has cut down the last few weeks.
That was before I noticed the hawks frequenting our backyard.
Not just one individual, but several. A Sharp-shinned, a Cooper’s, an adult, a juvenile, all hunting for something. It continued for weeks. I feared for the songbirds, but the hawks seemed intent on snatching something else from the yard. Something I didn’t know about.
Then it happened.
My mom screamed something inaudible from the garage. It had something to do with my darned birds and the seed. I groaned, and shuffled my way towards the garage.
The next day, when one of the teachers at school complained about some humongous rat plague our school had suffered a few years ago, I understand her objections to them. For last night, I had discovered the 50-pound bag of black oil sunflower seed spilled in an OCD-triggering heap on the garage floor. Along with the spilled seed came a disgusting smell emanating deep in the remote corners of our garage, corners that had not been touched for the greater half of the century. After exactly 2.5 days of combing and tossing over furniture, we found the source of the smell. Two rats had apparently taken each other out. Naively, we believed that was the end of our rat feeder problem, especially since the whole county infestation had all occurred a while back.
Scuttering noises continued in our basement and ceiling for months. The hawks kept coming. One juvenile Cooper’s was inches away from snatching one of the particularly large, gray rats. And one night, when my brother wandered out into our yard during night and found a huge unidentified rodent snacking on our feeder, the last straw was pulled.
The feeder was gone the next day. The seed was towed out and thrown away in huge heaves. I convinced myself that my neighbor had begun to set up better feeders so my feeder traffic would have halted to a stop anyway.
To this day, neither birdbath nor seedfeeder nor oriole feeder has been taken out five feet from my bed. I don’t have the audacity. Plus. I didn’t want Teenage Mutant Ninja Rats coming out from our backyard.