13 JUNE 1908, Page 17


(TO THE EDITOR Or THE " scsarsTott.• 1 SIR,—The writer of your interesting article on a garden aviary (July 30th) may like to know that squirrels, if well fed, do not necessarily banish nests from a small garden. have for many years been on friendly terms with birds and squirrels, and I provide a great variety of food for both. A pair of squirrels frequent my drawing-room window and the bedroom above it, and come inside both rooms for nuts and cake. They are only partly tame, for though they have taken bread from my hand, tempted by an extra large piece, they run for a yard or two if I open the window when they are on the sill; but they also run to it, and come within a few inches of my hand, when I am putting out bread and cake for the birds. They certainly do eat birds' eggs, and not many days ago I went to an upstairs room where two men were at work, and I found them in a great state of delight and excitement because one of the squirrels had appeared at the window with a thrush's egg, and had eaten it sitting close against the glass, and not taking the least notice of them. My informant told me he never had seen such a sight in his life, and that it was wonderful to watch bow the squirrel tilted the egg so as not to lose a single drop of the contents. They eat nuts at the drawing-room window in just the same way, pressing against the glass, and the fact that the nest robbed was close by, in a climbing rose-tree, made the squirrel accept the upstairs window as a suitable feeding-ground. But, though I know several instances of blackbirds' nests being robbed in this way, I do not find they take smaller eggs, though they might do so if hard up for food. I have a wren, a robin, and a water-wagtail's nest within a few yards of the drawing-room window, and they have never been disturbed,_ though the wren has built in or near the same spot for many years, and the water-wagtail builds frequently on the same wall. I doubt if the wagtails could protect their nests,..

though I can testify to their courage when out in the open.

An instance of this took place two or three evenings ago. A number of birds were feeding just below the window, when a squirrel appeared amongst them. The sparrows instantly -disappeared with the whirr of wings which is their chief charm, and only a water-wagtail, a thrush, a blackbird, and a nuthatch were left on the few feet of path which is their feeding-ground. The squirrel at once began chasing the birds, who ran round and round, but would not fly away until they had secured the food they wanted for their nestlings. The water-wagtail was specially courageous, turning round now and then suddenly and facing the squirrel, who pulled up short and stared in surprise; the blackbird behaved in much the same way, whilst the thrush simply ran about, and the nuthatch calmly stood his ground and took what he wanted without any interference from the squirrel. When the birds had filled their beaks they flew off, and did not return whilst the squirrel remained. His chase had been for fun apparently, as he did not take any of the food, but went to refresh himself at a pan of water close by after his fatigues. He had had a very ample meal of nuts and bread not half-an-hour before. Birds and squirrels recognise their friends, and I doubt if my tea-party would have been as lively if any other member of the household had been looking down on it from the open window.—I am, Sir,