• Something scuttled across the wooden floor, startling the owner of the vintage house. A pair of beady eyes looked down at her from a beam spanning the living room ceiling and she identified them as belonging to a cheeky red squirrel. She tried to urge him down by opening the outer doors and a couple of windows and, later, when she saw no sign of the furry invader, she presumed it had gone home to its family.

Around 5 a.m., the lady of the house was awoken from a sound sleep by a crash and her dog, a Belgian shepherd called Pollo, giving a low growl. She, sleepily, crept downstairs and discovered a few small glass liquor bottles, that used to be given out to passengers on overseas flights, had been knocked off a shelf in the dining room. There was a distinct smell of alcohol but the culprit had escaped to his lofty perch and was innocently surveying the scene of destruction.

One might find it surprising that the dog hadn’t been more ferocious and predatory, however, he had been well-trained not to run after or attack the household chickens that were regularly let out to roam freely in the back garden. Thus, he obviously felt that he should show the same respect to the vagrant squirrel. Since the doors and windows were once again left open, the invader was encouraged to leave the same way he had come in.

• For those of us who love to attract birds to our gardens with bird- feeders and birdbaths, a little caution should be exercised to safe-guard the health of these feathered flyers. Bird feeders and bird- baths should be cleaned on a regular basis and uneaten food replaced. A disease, trichomonosis, a parasitic infection that affects the bird’s throat and gullet, in particular finches and other small songbirds, was widespread last year in Atlantic Canada. Bird feeders are an ideal environment for the spread of the parasite as it can survive particularly well in wet and dirty bird seed. Having birds visit- ing our gardens is a great source of pleasure but we should take the extra time required to keep our feathered friends in good health.