Don’t Feed the Birds?

Well, I had an interesting visit the other day for an oil change at the car dealership. As the time drew near for me to be notified that my car was ready, the young man, who filled out the forms for my car check up, asked me to walk with him to the back garage where my car had been worked on.

There beside my car was the garage supervisor waiting for me. After introductions he opened my car’s hood and the words came out of his mouth, that were totally unexpected. “Mice or squirrels have gnawed through the covering of the wires and through at least one of the wires of your engine’s elecrtical system.

OPening in cover of electrical harness where wires were gnawed and dicconnected.

All of the electrical wires that go from the battery to the engine, the gas tank, the brakes, oil reservoir, and everything electrical that sends and receives information about the different parts of the car need the electric system to be in tact for it to work reliably. If it isn’t fixed anything could happen from an unlighted empty gas light signal to a spark from two wire ends striking each other and starting a fire! I recommend that you drive this car as little as possible until we can order and receive a new electric harness. That should cost about $2000. Then the wires have be connected from the energy source to the to go the terminals and connectors. This is a lot of labor; about another $2000 worth.” (This is not a direct quote.)

I was trying to figure out how I was going to pay that much money on my limited income! Imagine my relief when the manager told me, that if my car was fully covered, my car insurance would pay for the repairs. With a great sigh of relief I heard those magic words repeated when I checked with my insurance agent. The repairs, labor, and rental car are all covered.

For several years I have prided myself on scattering birdseed in front of my screened in porch for the birds, rabbits, and occasional squirrels for three reasons: to feed them and whatever other critters are hungry during cold weather when bugs are more scarce; to entertain my cat, Norie (who loves to watch the little critters during the day); and because l enjoy watching, photographing and listening to the birds, bunnies and squirrels. Well, it turns out more than squirrels, rabbits and birds may have been visiting my “yard.”

Face to face stand off between a young squirrel and Norie.

I usually try to park my car in front of my condo so I can keep an eye on it in case of the slight possibility of a car break-in. My car’s proximity to the porch and therefore the seeds may have been why my car was “attacked” for gnawing. After researching I found out there could be mice or squirrels from the nearby woods who come eat some birdseed and top that off by gnawing on the electric wires of nice warm cars, especially during cold months.

Red cardinal
Male cardinal

They gnaw on the covering of the electric wires and even chew through the wires sometimes because their teeth are constantly growing and gnawing wears down their teeth so they don’t keep on growing. It turns out that the copper or aluminum wires in the electric system may be covered by a rubber type substance made with soy oil or some other “renewable” products. The critters love to gnaw through the coverings along with the wires.

I have to admit that my condo has a policy of no birdfeeders. I had heard long ago that that was to prevent the groundsmen from bumping their heads on the feeders. So I spread birdseed on the ground in front of my screened in porch so they (the squirrels, rabbits and birds) would have plenty to eat. I am sorry to say that I can not afford to have that happen ever again. I love animals but like two people told me when they heard my sad story, “No good deed goes unpunished..”

Well, Mother Nature will have to take care of my neighboring critters from now on. Evidently I can’t trust the little guys not to have parties under my hood! In the meantime I am enjoying driving a 2022 Corolla!


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