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We've put up four bird feeders in the back and two more in the front, for our viewing pleasure and the birds' nourishment. Since we already had one feeder in the back, it didn't take the birds very long to discover the new ones, which are mesh tubes filled with thistle seed, suspended from the eaves.

The big original feeder, a globe-shaped metal cage with the tube of seed in the center, is squirrel-proof. I get almost as much fun watching the squirrels try to figure out a way to crack it as I do watching the birds come and go. The squirrels try to open the top, chew through the metal cable from which the feeder is suspended, shake the feed out onto the ground.

Their only success has been in reaching through the cage to scoop up the few seeds which land on the support plate on the bottom.

They haven't given up, though. Every morning they try the same approaches, hoping, I guess, that this time they will be successful. Do squirrels have that much cognitive ability, or are they just driven by hunger and instinct? Their attempts to open the cage are quite methodical and seem to indicate some rudimentary cognitive skills.

The birds leave when the squirrels mess around with the feeder, but return as soon as they give up and look for food elsewhere. Or get involved with making squirrel babies, which seems to be happening a lot in this lovely weather.

A whole week of spring-like weather. Is winter over?

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