Is it OK to feed my little garden squirrel?

I am severely disabled and wheelchair bound due to sickness. I am not well enough to keep a pet anymore. I am new to this specially adapted home I live in  I innocently started feeding the wild birds and a little male gray squirrel whom I have called Hamish  I have a bird feeding station and thoroughly enjoy watching all the different species of birds who now visit every day. It has given me a new lease of life and I have learned a lot about the different species of birds  and what kind of food they like. I even scatter some seed for the pigeons who now recognise me and sit up on the back porch peering down into my living room window waiting to be fed  It's comical. I had no idea that birds even pigeons can learn to recognise people, especially those who feed them. They get fed in the morning and at lunchtime, the rest of the day they are good at cleaning up all the spilled seeds and pieces of suet from underneath the bird feeding station. I love the cooing noise they make it so relaxing to listen to. I am really worried about feeding Hamish. I didn't know anything about birds or squirrels till now. I am really worried about my neighbour who lives across the back door from my garden  His son who lives a good bit away, hates squirrels and works for pest control with his local council, although he is in a very different area, I am terrified he will kill Hamish who I have grown very fond of. I fear also that I have upset his dad who do not like squirrels either although way before I met his son, he helped me erect a little squirrel Feeder on the fence  He is a kindly old man  Sadly though he has become very seriously ill with cancer, and its now terminal. He is a gentleman. I feel awful because I really like him. But when I met him one day with his son, who I right away felt very uneasy with, and he admitted he utterly hates gray squirrels, and then told me about his job at pest control, I couldn't hide my horror  but I still respect him and really like his dad. The other neighbours feed both the birds and the squirrels too. However I fear and sense I may have caused tension without meaning to. I have a soft spot for animals and although I genuinely love animals dearly  I am not a person who prefers them to people. Can you kindly offer me some advice on what I should do? I'm torn between my hobby and my attachment to Hamish  I will mention that it's definitely a male squirrel and a young one. He has also chased every other squirrel away from my garden. He is fiesty and aggressive and the other squirrels are absolutely terrified of him! I am thinking that is actually a good thing. He visits several times throughout the day and is really only interested in his feeder and scurrying around burying food and eating. I love watching him eating and his cute little antics. There are loads of squirrels in the area as myself and my neighbours have a lot of woodland nearby and that's where Hamish lives. Again, any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks so much for taking time to read my post  

  • Hello Tracy and welcome to the community forum. It is nice to hear that you enjoy feeding your garden birds and your squirrel visitor and can understand how important watching and feeding wildlife is to you when you have health issues and are not so mobile anymore. You are perfectly entitled to enjoy your hobby and continue to feed your garden birds and squirrel unless there are specific rules in place (if you are renting). The only problem would be if by feeding birds in particular that they become a nuisance to neighbours and that would have to involve health hazzards or noise factor, etc., where the council could impose restrictions. To be honest, I wouldn't worry about the chap that works for pest control, there are a lot of people who do not like birds (especially pigeons) or grey squirrels but whilst Hamish is in your garden I would just enjoy watching him and the birds come for food treats and try not worry too much. Squirrels are quite territorial and especially if there is a food source they will chase other squirrels away. As you say, wildlife can be comical to watch and you will get many happy hours viewing from your window. So, my advice, feed your birds and your squirrel and continue to enjoy their visits. It sounds to me as if you are a considerate person, wanting to do the right thing and a thoughtful neighbour as it's always good to maintain a good relationship with your local neighbourhood; it is good that you have like-minded neghbours who also enjoy wildife and if you have any worries I am sure they will listen and advise you. Good luck.


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Hello Tracy. If I were you I would continue to enjoy feeding your garden visitors; especially since you say your other neighbours also feed them. I'm sorry you feel uncomfortable about your neighbour's son, the pest controller. If he works for an entirely different council there is no reason to suppose he would try to harm your "Hamish", at least not in a professional capacity. Enjoy your critters. :)

    Regards, AnnaB

  • Hello Tracy, and welcome also from me to the community. I am pleased that you have found a new hobby and are really enjoying it too. It is lovely to watch the birds and other wildlife. You certainly will have plenty to see, if you keep feeding the birds and wee Hamish. He seems a feisty little thing and if he is being fed he will keep coming back and I am sure that the neighbour will not be too bothered, although as Hazel has said, it is good to keep a good relationship with them. Maybe you could explain to him and his son next time you see them, that you have Hamish visit and the birds and it is giving you much enjoyment. Enjoy your new hobby.

    By the way you have done very well to post and add pictures to this new updated fourum, many of us are still struggling with the updates!

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Thank you so much for your kindness in taking the time to reply to my post. It means a lot to me. Thank you
  • In reply to Anna B:

    Thanks so much for your reply. I had to chuckle at the word "Critters!" which is what I often call them. And first thing in the morning they are all watching and waiting for me to get up and feed them, especially the pigeons. I have grown quite fond of them too. I was initially going to stop feeling the pigeons but they tugged at my heart strings sitting up there on the porch gazing in expectantly! So I eventually gave in! However I try to limit their feeding till early morning and early afternoon to make sure they eat their food. They are very peaceful and happily feed alongside each other. They aren't too fussy and so I keep the less expensive bird seed for them and buy a big tub. They are very smart and know me when I go into the garden and hop around my wheelchair but they panic when anyone else is approaching. Funny thing though, yesterday afternoon I was wearing my tinted glasses so I could see them as part of my illness I can get light sensitivity. They all freaked out when they saw me watching them at my window with my glasses on. Unbelievable! I thought "surely not!" so I took the glasses off to see if I was imagining things - sure enough they all came back and they were quite comfortable with me sitting there watching them pecking away. Amazing!!! I do laugh when they all arrive. I have 4 feeders on the pole. One for peanuts two with mostly sunflower hearts which all the finches and blue tits love! And a huge polomint shaped suet feeder which the starlings go nuts for! It's good because it holds at least 12 suet balls and it's hilarious to see them all clinging on and often one perched in the hole in the middle frantically pecking as it burls round and round. It always makes me laugh. It's good because everything gets fed and it really is "Feeding time at the zoo!!!" first thing in the morning especially. It's a very satisfying and rewarding hobby. And reasonably low maintenance apart from cleaning the feeders, grrrrr but it's worth it.

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Ps thanks for welcoming me to the community! It's a joy to be part of something wonderful and interesting. I look forward to interacting when I am able,
  • In reply to Tracy Gilbert :

    You are welcome Tracy; I'm glad you get so much enjoyment from your garden visitors. I have some extremely tame female blackbirds who line up on the fence waiting for their breakfast of sultanas. They definitely know me & I feel privileged that they trust me enough to come so close. I do spend quite a bit on bird food, but don't tell the ole fella hee hee. :)

    Regards, AnnaB

  • Afternoon Tracy.
    In your place, I would keep feeding Hamish, along with the various birds.

    While I agree that it's best, if possible, to stay on good terms with one's neighbours, in my experience individuals' attitudes toward wildlife are so diverse that sometimes it's just easier not to share one's thoughts with certain people. Basically because it's clear that you will never find common ground. So, last time I mentioned to a neighbour that we have hedgehogs staying with us from a local rescue centre, she said that people go too far with 'rewilding' and people in cities in India are being eaten by tigers for just this very reason.

    Needless to say I don't mention the hedgehogs any more.

    While all the above advice is, I think, excellent, perhaps Catlady has (if I may say so) the best of all. Let everyone know the pleasure that feeding the birds and Hamish brings you. That makes the feeding about you, more even than about the animals. And while there are those who don't like squirrels (I know a few), it's harder to take a hard line with a neighbour than it is to take one with a squirrel.

    Here, we push out some of our autumn cut to spring, just to supply local red squirrels with a safe 'motorway' between nearby pines/firs and our neighbours' nut tree.

    Keep feeding the zoo, and enjoy the show to the fullest.

    Best regards from sunny Switzerland -
  • Many thanks for the kind words Dave.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • My pleasure Catlady. I just think you, among excellent advice (as often is the case 'on here'), hit a nail on the head there.
    All the best -