Having recently seen a nice production of “Oliver!”, it’s not surprising that I’d think of some busy neighbors of mine as artful dodgers: thieves to the core, but with a certain charm and cuteness about them.

The picture at left is my bird feeder as it’s supposed to look, with birds merrily gobbling grain or squabbling for a place, generally making the world a happier place.

The picture at right is my bird feeder as it more commonly looks, with a pilfering squirrel purloining birdseed and scattering half of it on the ground.

The bird feeder started near the fence, but the squirrels easily jumped from the fence to the feeder. Then I moved it closer to the deck, but they brazenly climbed the railing and jumped again.

Finally, I stuck the feeder in the middle of the yard, even though I’d have to mow around it, thinking it would finally be safe from the fluff-tailed rodents.

Not a chance: with those prehensile toes, the rascals climb right up the skinny pole. The squirrels get the lion’s share of the food, the birds get to pick what’s left from the ground, and all I get is the fun of watching the rascals jump and run when I call the dog, open the door, and say “sic ’em!”

Banjo seems to feel a sense of pride in tearing across the yard to defend his territory, though the crafty critters inevitably live up to their name and disappear quickly (“squirrel” is derived from the Greek skiouros, a combination of skia [shadow] and oura [tail]). Not that the dog doesn’t chase shadows, too.

In the end, all creatures involved (including me) gain something and lose something from the bird feeding enterprise.

Such is life.

Even so, I’m wondering what would happen if I greased the pole …

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