George Washington Carver is haunting me.
April 9, 2008 2:34 PM   Subscribe

About once a month, I find a roasted peanut on the ledge beside the outside of my front door. Is someone testing to find out if I am in town?

Sometimes it's just a peanut shell. The ledge is about two feet high and narrow enough that it would be difficult to toss the peanut from the sidewalk and have it land there. I'd say this has happened four or five times now.

I live in Mountain View, CA.
posted by oats to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Super smart squirl?
posted by pearlybob at 2:37 PM on April 9, 2008

Super smart squirl?

That would be my guess. You'd be surprised that they're capable of.
posted by Nelsormensch at 2:39 PM on April 9, 2008

Does your postman like roasted peanuts?
posted by Elmore at 2:41 PM on April 9, 2008

Am I missing something? How would you test to find if someone is in town by dropping a peanut on the ground?
posted by box at 2:45 PM on April 9, 2008

Squirrel!! I knew that didn't look right!
posted by pearlybob at 2:49 PM on April 9, 2008

I'm voting for Squirrels as well.

My wife and I have a tendency to feed our local squirrels.

Some of our neighbors approached us last year telling us how they keep finding peanuts (whole and shells) in their gardens, and on their porches Oops.

Squirrels have a tendency to spread the love (and peanut shells)
posted by MeetCleaverTheatre at 2:50 PM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Squirrels are a definite possibility. So are jays (scrub jays most likely). I once lived in a garden apartment, and would leave food outside for my indoor-outdoor cat; the jays LOVED the dry cat food, and I had a neighbor report "the strangest thing...there is cat food in the eaves of my roof." The jays were cacheing it.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:59 PM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

if the peanut was actually on the door sill, possibly, but on a ledge? does entering/leaving the building disturb the nut?

squirrels choose a favourite location, usually one with a good view of the surrounding area, to eat. sometimes a large pile of detritus will accumulate under the perch, which is often 1-2" off the ground. if you stop cleaning up the nuts, you may find a pile of them eventually.

also, truffles, pinecones, mushrooms and wether's candies.
posted by klanawa at 3:02 PM on April 9, 2008

Or mice. We once found a cache of Spanish peanuts in our car's air conditioning vent. Pretty cute, actually.
posted by Enroute at 3:18 PM on April 9, 2008

I lived in Mountain View for a while. I'd bet it's squirrels, likely being fed or stealing from a feeder. We found nuts from our walnut tree on every flat ledge, far away from the tree.
posted by Gucky at 3:26 PM on April 9, 2008

a friend who lives in a nice suburban home used to occasionally find dead squirrels and birds on his front door.

gifts from the same neighborhood cats his wife lovingly fed.

peanuts are less creepy, consider yourself lucky.
posted by matteo at 3:33 PM on April 9, 2008

Squirrel. I had one leaveme , on my garden hose winder-thingy, a whole - less some squirrel nibbles - unwrapped chocolate bar.
posted by porpoise at 3:39 PM on April 9, 2008

Box, I assume the poster's scenario is that someone's possibly leaving them there to see if they are subsequently removed. But I think that's highly unlikely to be the answer. There's got to be a less weird way to track whether someone's home or not.

I think animals are the most likely answer as well. Here in Vancouver, we have birds that leave odd things in places. Around our house, crows leave fragments of seashells. We're close enough to the water that they pick up small shellfish and drop them onto hard surfaces until they break. I've seen them do this repeatedly from the tops of light poles, dive bombing the street below, release the mollusk, whack against the pavement, repeat as necessary. And I also find pieces on our front porch from time to time.

Another remote possibility - someone with a mental illness has developed a fascination with your property. A couple blocks down the street from us is a vacant lot on a corner - a gas station/convenience store sized expanse of gravel surrounded by chain link fence. It's been vacant for the four years I've lived here. About six months ago one of the local street people seemed to suddenly work it into his particular mental universe in a big way. He builds little shrines along one side of the fence out of whatever junk he scavenges, or maybe buys from thrift shops. Old books, old clothes, lamps. He either hangs it on the fence or lays it on the sidewalk. Once there was an honest to god wet suit hanging there, surrounded by other bits of castoff junk. It usually seems to be arranged with purpose rather than just dumped. Along the cross street, there's a particular spot where he throws dry pasta over the fence for the birds.

I'm pretty fascinated by it. For one thing, I'm pretty sure other people have started using the spot as a general disposal for junk they don't want since things always disappear by the next day or so, and some real outliers have turned up lately, like furniture and old computer gear. And another thing, what happens when someone wants to finally buy the place and put up a business? This guy pretty much comes with the property now. How do you get rid of him? As far as he's concerned, it seems to be his fence to use as he sees fit.

What if someone like that sort of incorporated your house into their particular ritual space?
But I mainly mention that because I'm intrigued by the situation. I think it's far more likely you've got squirrels.
posted by Naberius at 3:39 PM on April 9, 2008

when i lived in mv, the local squirrels routinely buried peanuts in my deck boxes.
posted by plinth at 3:40 PM on April 9, 2008

Bluejays bring peanuts to our planters. We don't have squirrels.
posted by wryly at 3:47 PM on April 9, 2008

Could be the squirrel testing out to see if you're in town.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:47 PM on April 9, 2008 [15 favorites]

I, uh, am one of those people who feeds peanuts to the scrub jays. My neighbors hate it. (But it's really cute -- they even take them from my hand!)

When a jay finds a nut, it flies to a safe spot to eat it (providing that it doesn't bury it instead). My guess is that one of your neighbors is feeding the jays, and the jay flies to your roof, above the window ledge, to open the peanut. The shell falls from the roof onto the window ledge.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:15 PM on April 9, 2008

If you're finding a whole peanut, it's probably Jays. The squirrels I knew in Mtn View would make short work of a peanut, especially the ones in the park behind the library.
posted by dws at 4:58 PM on April 9, 2008

Jays bring mine.
posted by Iron Rat at 5:34 PM on April 9, 2008

Probably squirrels, but if it makes you feel better, why don't you try leaving a peanut to see what happens? Or when you are out of town, ask the friend who gets your mail/waters your plants/feeds your cat to also leave a peanut.
posted by pointystick at 8:21 PM on April 9, 2008

Scrub jays... we used to befriend them; get them to land on our hands and take a peanut. Usually, they would fly off and hide it, and come right back for another one.
posted by clh at 9:51 PM on April 9, 2008

Response by poster: Hah! I wouldn't have suspected squirrels or birds, as there's not much in the way of trees or cover near my front door, but I suppose that could be it. If I wanted to install a camera to watch my front door before, I *definitely* do now :-)
posted by oats at 10:28 PM on April 9, 2008

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