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by Jeff Wilkin

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Chip and Dale dancers

By Jeff Wilkin
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It’s like Mutual of Omaha’s damn Wild Kingdom in my damn back yard.

I’ve regularly ranted against the crow nation, which regularly flies above my Albany stronghold. These vile birds have been treading lightly on my lawn — they know any errant caw will bring me out of the house with a handful of walnuts. They are supposed to be the Thomas Edisons of the aviary world, and have learned I don’t miss once I pitch nut toward beak. They have been laying low and singing small.

Cats, skunks and squirrels are also on the intruder lists. Some neighbor cats prowl with immunity, and I have not caught them in my marigolds, so they’re OK. Wish they had enough guts to pick a fight with a crow, but you fight one, you’ve got to fight them all. They attack like the Fordham Baldies used to rumble in the Bronx during the 1950s.

Skunks show up after midnight, and they’ll dig in the lawn and take a look around for stray bugs or morsels of food. Good thing they don’t eat marigolds. Squirrels are always burying nuts in the lawn they’re going to forget anyway, so I just pity the fools.

The latest infestation is chipmunks. I’ve got a full cord of firewood stacked on the side of my driveway, and it’s like I’ve put up a Sheraton Hotel for these furry junior squirrels. I see them screwing around in the wood all the time. There must be a bunch, but how could you know for sure? I could be seeing the same solitary chipmunk day after day. It’s not like they have numbers on their backs.

Sometimes, the chipmunks will cross the driveway on a suicide run for the hotel. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen any animal run faster. Zip-zip, and they’re gone. I guess maybe they’re just nervous, anxious — who knows when an opportunistic crow will swoop out of the sky for a quick chipmunk breakfast. I suppose a hawk would also consider a chipmunk tasty vittles, as Granny used to say.

But I doubt even these evil, winged cretins are fast enough to nab a speeding chip on the dodge. It would be like Wile E. Coyote against the RoadRunner, and fans of Saturday morning cartoons know Wile E. probably starved to death sometime in 1975.

I’ve noticed chipmunks have also found ways into my shed, which is tacked onto my garage. Thought I had sealed up all the entrances last year, but these chipmunks must have studied at Crow College — they always seem to find a way in.

I don’t mind scaring off a squirrel, and will not hesitate to deliver walnut justice to a hapless (and slow) crow. But it would seem like a dirty trick trying to remove chipmunks from my village green. You would just feel like a rat trying to eliminate these creatures, which as far as I can tell, have not trespassed against my marigolds or tomatoes. So what if they get into the shed? Are they going to eat my bicycle tires or candle wax, nibble on the Roman candles leftover from the Fourth of Julv?

My neighbor Dino has chippies too, and insists they are just the cutest things around. Spoken like a true Franciscan — and I’m the one who went to St. Bonaventure.

So while Heckle and Jeckle remain on my enemies list, Chip and Dale — plus Alvin, Simon and Theodore — get a pass. Just please — no singing. The research boys say chipmunks eat nuts, fruit, berries, birds’ eggs, small frogs, fungi, worms, insects and on occasions small mammals like young mice.

If that’s the case, I hope they’re looking for small gray mice ... because I’ve also spotted baby rodents in my backyard zoo.

 
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