Perhaps a not so great invention
November 24, 2020
“I’ve always liked squirrels – but once you’ve had one land on your head travelling about 30mph you can easily go off them.”
This little tidbit probably deserves to be classified in the ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ file. It was on November 24, 2001, when British inventor, Mike Madden, decided to give his latest invention a whirl.
The results of his research, however, left him with whiplash and a big headache.
Mr. Madden had recently invented a hat which allowed the wearer to feed birds. The top of the hat would be filled with bird seed which would provide his feathered friends a perch where they could sit and eat their fill, especially during the winter months.
But Mr. Madden never counted on an ever opportunistic squirrel to foil his plans.
While the Infallible Wikipedia is silent on this particular topic, a United Kingdom site, the Metro News, offers this:
“…he also attracted the attention of a squirrel which leapt on him from a tree and made off with the bird feed.
Mr. Madden was left rolling on the ground with whiplash injuries and has since been forced to wear a neck brace.
The 48-year-old said: ‘It came at me like an Exocet missile. I didn’t have time to blink. There was a crash, a bang and a wallop. It felt like I’d been hit by a sledgehammer.’”
There’s so much amusement in this article but I think my favorite part is where he says it came at him like an Exocet missle. Even funnier is the name of where Mr. Madden lives: Crackpot Cottage.
Like all of you I questioned the veracity of this article. But research has proved it to be true. The BBC also carried the story in, granted, a slightly more sedate telling:
“The 48-year-old welder has been taking pain-killers and wearing a neck brace since the accident near his home in Crackpot Cottage, Honley, in Huddersfield.
He said: ‘I was out walking through the woods with my friend Craig Bailey.We had only just started the walk when ‘kaboom’ – I was on the floor.
‘I didn’t see much of what happened but Craig told me he saw the squirrel flying through the air and land right on my head.’”
(The above video is just over 20 minutes long and worth every moment!)
Over the years, filling bird feeders only to have them hijacked by squirrels has been a frustration. I’ve tried greasing the pole only to watch in amusement as the gray interlopers slide down them like some dancer in a backroom dive. Soon, however, a more acrobatic squirrel discovers that it can leap to the feeder, bypassing the obstacles.
I’ve tried putting out a second feeding area for the squirrels but that never satisfied them. Soon they co-opted all feeding stations and their ranks seemed to increase exponentially.
The worst year, however, was back in 1994 when we moved into a house off East Lake Sammamish parkway near Redmond. The previous owner loved, loved, loved the squirrels. So much so that she fed them by hand from the kitchen windows.
We had only been there a few weeks when I happened to open one of the windows to let in fresh air only to discover that the squirrels also wanted to come in the house.
Maybe that was okay for the previous house frau, but I had a four year old son and a one year old daughter. Call me over protective but potentially rabid and flea infested squirrels hanging out with my children wasn’t in the plan.
As the weeks wore on and I wasn’t feeding the squirrels, they became more and more aggressive. Additionally, I couldn’t keep track of how many there were as they were always swarming and running about. I couldn’t take the children outside to play; we were prisoners in our house.
Thankfully, my dad came to the rescue and brought us an animal trap which he was used in the family fruit orchards.
Once the trap was seeded with nuts, it took less than an hour to capture the first squirrel. The bigger question then was ‘what do I do with it?’
Soon I had loaded the squirrel, still in the cage, into the back of our trusty Astro Van, and the kids and I headed off to a local park to set the creature free.
Between the hubby and I, this happened SEVEN more times over the next week and a half.
Finally we were down to the last squirrel. And this guy was not going quietly into that good night.
He hissed at me, he ran at me, he tried to claw his way through the windows. And he wouldn’t fall for that old peanut in a cage trick.
Then, finally, he could no longer resist the temptation. I heard the clang of the metal shutting the final inmate in. For this trip I had to wrap the cage in a blanket as the squirrel continued his aggressive behaviors biting at me through the wire. I, however, prevailed and he was released with his compadres. I avoided that park for a time.
After a while I put up new bird feeders and soon there were squirrels figuring out how to get to them. But it was as if, with the relocation of the previous residents, the new ones no longer retained a memory of hand feeding or coming in to the house. Finally, we could go outside without fear of a squirrel attack.
When we moved to our new abode two years ago, I finally kicked the bird feeding habit. Well, at least in regards to seed. My pets are hummingbirds whose feeders do not attract furry interlopers.
But I did see on the internet a really cool looking hat that you wear to feed them. Seems legit. Maybe I’ll add it to my Christmas list.
A big thanks to my brother who included this in his weekly radio show prep!