The online dictionary indicated that perseverance means “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”

We all have built up varying capabilities of perseverance through life experiences. Perhaps perseverance capabilities differ depending on the activity, task or objective in mind. My wife reminds me that a man will never understand the pain threshold that needs to be borne during child birth. I will grant and tip my hat to all mothers. Especially my mother!

Rather than starting from a person’s perspective, I wanted to start from an animal’s perspective. What can an animal teach us about perseverance?

This story begins with the bird feeder that we hung on our back fence since last winter. It turned out to be a hit as all species of birds dropped by to feed. Everything went well until September this year. One squirrel appeared, and it was the vanguard, as another two appeared later.

There are legendary videos on Youtube on obstacle courses that have been designed to outwit and outplay squirrels (use search term, ‘squirrel obstacle course’). It’s delightful to see how these squirrels are initially stumped, falling off said obstacles, and then, figuring out how to overcome and get at the tasty treats. Perseverance in action!

Well, my backyard squirrels were showing me their perseverance, and in turn, caused me to ‘up’ my own perseverance (and determination). After all, how can I “lose” to this animal? No matter how cuddly it may look. By golly, I am not going to let my bird seed be hijacked by these squirrels.

Firstly, I observed how they got to my bird feeder. They were dropping onto the roof of the bird feeder, and then, lowering themselves onto the feeder trough. Hmm…why don’t I extend the roof with cut off plastic sheets so that the overhang edges of said plastic sheets will not allow them to lower themselves? Oops…they got through the gaps between the two sheets. Ok, let me tape it up. Oops…they bit through the tape.

Alright, let me check what they have on Ah…a dome-shaped squirrel baffle. That should work. And it did for a couple of days. It was fun while it lasted as we say a squirrel fall about three times as every time it tried to reach below the dome onto the bird feeder, the baffle tilted under its weight and it dropped to the ground.

Until one of these pesky squirrels figured out how to reach the bird feeder roof via the pole/hook that the baffle/bird feeder was hung on. Ok, let me grease the pole/hook. That worked again for a couple of days. The squirrel was persistent, as eventually the grease wore off, and they were able to grip the pole, and got onto the bird feeder roof.

OK. My final attempt this time round, is to hang the squirrel baffle lower down, so that it’s not near the pole/hook and thus, the squirrel cannot swing from latter onto the bird feeder roof. Let’s see how this goes as the squirrel scorecard is something like 5-0. This is probably an understatement too, to salve some ego!

So, what did I learn about perseverance? Being tested (and bested) by an animal does wonders for one’s perseverance. This personal challenge, when taken in the right spirit, does wonders. It inculcates respect for the other opponent. It pushes one to think outside the box, and literally, anticipate the moves of the other. Perseverance brings along other pleasant companions when approached with the right attitude.

Postscript: The picture shows plastic sheets nailed to the fence post and top of fence. This is to deter them from having a foothold near the baffle/bird feeder. The nuclear option is to purchase another baffle and have a double layer baffle to outwit the squirrels!

6 weeks later (Dec 27)

After the original post in mid Nov, there were probably 8-10 adjustments I had to make in terms of the set up. From lengthening (twice) the pole, taping cardboard/plastic sheets, etc. Finally, I decided to acquire a second baffle, to make it a double layer. This seems to have done the trick for the past week!

Author: Ben & Joon

Residents in the great Pacific North West. Living life as it happens, learning our purpose and trail blazing our own paths. Namaste.

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