Saturday, September 13, 2014

Disarmed in the Battle of Wits

After hearing the promotional interview with the author on a radio gardening program, I expected to enjoy Bill Adler's Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder, a humorous treatise on defending bird feeders from "furry-tailed rats". I bought it that same day for my Kindle. 

Unfortunately, I soon learned that most of the funny bits from the book had been read aloud on air by Bob Tanem, host of KSFO's In the Garden, or shared by the author during that interview. The rest of the book is extremely dry, and mostly consists of a list of the commercially-available bird feeders, rated for features like ease of refilling, attractiveness, and of course, Squirrel-Proofing.

Don't get me wrong—a rating list for technical aspects of squirrel-proofing bird-feeders is valuable. It just wasn't what the interview had led me to expect.

The 101 Stratagems of the sub-title comprise a similar mix of sober seriousness and whimsical hilarity, with a few deliciously mean or technically treacherous options thrown in. Adler has obviously done his homework—and presumably has seen many more "squirrel-oopsies" than he describes in the text. He may have been reluctant to share yet another "squirrel skids off slick baffle and lands on his posterior four feet below feeder" scene.

If that is the case, I think Adler missed the main reason those who dream of outwitting squirrels might have bought the book. Sure, it helps to know which feeder works best to fend off the arboreal rodents. But we also want to see them defeated! 

Hint for the fourth edition, Bill:  If we can't see squirrels defeated in our own yards, we'll settle for reading about it. More dynamite, electricity, and greased feeder roofs will nicely balance the dry technical data.