“Not much goes on in the mind of a squirrel.
Huge portions of what is loosely termed “the squirrel brain” are given over to one thought: food.
The average squirrel cogitation goes something like this: I wonder what there is to eat.”
~ Kate DiCamillo
I have not always been fond of squirrels….eastern gray squirrels that is, or Sciurus carolinensis as they are also known. As a matter of fact, in my old garden that grew beneath an orchard of old black walnut trees, I actually loathed these beasts. They dug up my plants, chewed all the flowers off my tulips and crocuses. We waged a battle of wits to keep them from our bird feeder…..yes, I was not fond of squirrels back then.
But here in our present garden, the squirrels are not as big or plentiful. They are part of the native landscape…residents that hunt up food, and are food for those who hunt them. So they are kept in check. Even the small Common Wrens chase them from the spring and summer garden trees when they are nesting.
And as part of our wildlife garden, I have found them cute and amusing…we’ll see how long that lasts if they destroy my tulips again. For now, though, I actually get a kick out of them. Especially in winter when they are wrapped up in their thick winter coats. We can see their frequent visits, and even their typical pathways once winter arrives. They have very distinctive footprints.
Last March, the squirrels found the suet feeder as the winter’s frigid cold was harsh and all the critters needed extra fat for energy and survival. This winter they tore it down once as they swung on it.
And this little squirrel, was likely born in winter as Eastern Gray Squirrels breed in summer and winter. Brrrr! Not a time I would think of breeding and raising young ones….although all those bodies in a nest must make it toasty. I am assuming he is one of a few gray squirrels still frequenting the garden.
We don’t have any squirrels actually living in the garden in hollow tree nests, but we have had leaf nests, also known as dreys. Gray squirrels usually use these dreys primarily in summer as they are supposed to be temporary. But here we see the nests built and used in winter too. It is said that if the nests are built high in the trees, then the winter will be harsh. This year, the squirrels seemed to be unsure with good reason…it has been an atypical winter.
And within the last year, we have noticed a new visitor…..a Black Squirrel. The Black Squirrel is a subgroup of our gray squirrel, and not usually seen in these parts.
This squirrel is pretty aggressive as is usual for Black Squirrels. When he hopped into our garden, he liked what he saw. He has taken over the yards of 5 houses as his territory, and if a gray squirrel is found anywhere near, he chases, and chases, and chases them. Of course the gray squirrels sneak in and make themselves at home when he is gone.
As tree dwellers, squirrels are at home in our trees. Especially this fellow.
This pumpkin was smashed in front of our house in late November. We decided to put it in the veg garden so perhaps the seeds would germinate in summer. But our friendly gray squirrel is making himself at home. We watched him take one seed at a time and bury them throughout the garden, especially near the veg beds and in the veg beds. He even came back later and found a few for a snack. And the black squirrel has buried several black walnuts, from the nearby woods, in the veg garden….we find the shells all over the garden in fall and winter.
I do love their faces…too cute and they have the best expressions. Recently we even had one come to the back stairs to peer in through the kitchen glass door. He lingered a bit on the railing of the stairs…..
All I could capture of him was his tail end.
As a matter of fact, I often photograph them from the tail side. After all it is a rather handsome tail.
With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday. I am also linking in with with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.
And I am sharing this lesson with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme. I hope you will join her. Please check out all these great blogs.
I leave you with another thought about the lessons I am learning from nature. Feel free to download the photo and share.
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16. Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.