Wildlife Lesson-Squirreling Around


“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.




squirrel (1)

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.




DSCN1322And 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.




tree squirrel collage

As tree dwellers, squirrels are at home in our trees.  Especially this fellow.




pumpkin squirrel collage

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.

44 Replies to “Wildlife Lesson-Squirreling Around”

  1. I’m glad you are enjoying the squirrels, Donna—even framing their portraits in hearts, no less! 😉 I used to think of them as bundles of wickedness wrapped up in fluffy tails when I lived back yonder. My dog loved to chase them, and I loved to encourage him… No squirrels were ever caught, but we all got a lot of exercise.

    Welcome back from your blogging rest!

  2. Hey, Donna – less of that word “common” for us wrens!! What very cute photos, I rather like squirrels, I can say that as we don’t have any eating our plants, only the pesky possums. That black one is a rather daunting, I can see why the grey ones keep away! Hope you had a good break, the time seemed to fly by!
    Wren x

  3. admire their agility Donna but they are so successful here in our towns and gardens that they have run our native red squirrels to ground. With such cute faces, people endlessly feed them and so they endlessly reproduce and require culling every so often.
    Introduced in 19 century by landowners with more money than sense – how much better they look in your habitat than in our London squares. “if the nests are built high in the trees, then the winter will be harsh” – thanks for that piece of folklore will pay more attention next year. Meanwhile hope Spring is tapping at your door.

    1. Oh that was a bad idea to bring them there…and it is sad they have run your native squirrels to ground. Cute devils I call them. Do check out their nests next year and let me know what you find. Yes spring is actually here. When I returned from break and visiting family, I found it had just arrived almost a month early.

  4. Great photos! We’ve been seeing a new color over the last year – grey with a red tail! I read this article to my dogs, and they sat and listened with their complete attention. They too, get a kick out of squirrels!

  5. I’m a squirrel fan. We have a huge population, and I enjoy watching every one:) Swell squirrel portraits!

  6. Squirrels? Oooh.
    Not something I see.
    It is the cockatoos who did up my tulips and gnaw on the camellias and behead rather a lot of other things. Some of it for food, some of it out of curiosity. I find the destruction for food *slightly* easier to accept. And love the incontinent vandals anyway.

  7. That’s a great set of photos and interesting text to follow along! So glad you wrote about the good, bad, and the cute of squirrels–since they’re all three. I really like the photos with their little paw prints in the snow–somehow, those are especially charming. We don’t have the black squirrel here in Central Texas, so he’s exotic to me. Great post, Donna and I hope you had a good trip and break from blogging!

  8. This was a fun post, Donna! There are several cities in Iowa that have black squirrels. They are fun to see and you are blessed to have your own! We do not have gray squirrels here; we only have red squirrels (they may be called fox squirrels, not sure). You will get some pumpkins growing in your garden, but not where you had planned to plant them! lol
    I am ready to plant my cool weather crops, once I see if the soil in the raised beds is dry enough. I’ll be planting spinach, beets, kale, lettuce, kohlrabi and radishes. And several other things later. I’m looking forward to gardening and there is a lot of green in the garden already.
    Blessings, Beth

    1. I did not know there were cities with black squirrels in Iowa….and no gray squirrels. Wow. I was going to plant my cool weather crops but by the first week of spring they are predicting cold weather so I will wait and see I think. Have fun Beth!

  9. My lovely Donna,
    I love squirrels such a lot, they’re so wonderful creatures and we’re fortunate to be able and watch them, they’re so funny and clever !

    Sending blessings of joy on your weekend
    with love

  10. Hello Donna, this is a great post. I have to admit I have not been fond of the squirrels, they pig out on my bird seed. I did not know squirrels could be born in the winter. The Black Squirrel would be new to me, we only see the gray squirrels. Your photos and mosaics are wonderful. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  11. We have a little trouble with them getting into our bird feeders but I like to see the unusual squirrels. We see a fox squirrel sometimes and they are neat too. Fun photos! Hugs!

  12. I absolutely LOVE your squirrels, Donna! They remind me of the ones I grew up with in Michigan. So cute. When I lived in Atlanta for 25 years, I’m afraid they became pests to me, like rodents, because of how they chewed through everything they could get their teeth on. Not fun. It’s strange but we don’t see squirrels here in the Netherlands, not where we live. Astrid says they’re only in the woods (of which there are few where we live).

    1. I would bet there are more black squirrels in areas along the NYS border being closer to Canada. Not sure if ours found his way down some how, but I suspect he was born here and was a genetic anomaly.

  13. I love the word squirelling, haha, maybe the style of titling runs in our heads as my post yesterday has a different title too “beaching”, LOL. We don’t have squirrels, but now some pets that got into the wild already become dangerous in the area in a subdivision where they got loose. I hear them on TV.

  14. They’re very cute Donna and full of personality! You might as well love having them around, because you can’t beat them! I bet you have pumpkin plants all over your place next year. Our squirrels at least forgot half of what they buried at least.

  15. Ah…I enjoy the squirrels…I don’t have any black squirrels though… Thank you for your kind comments…I feel as though I am in a fog of some kind….Michelle

  16. Oh yes, I find squirrels very entertaining. I learned many “lessons” from this post! I didn’t realize squirrels eat tulips! I’ve always blamed it on the rabbits. In any case, I’ve given up on tulips. 😉 Thanks for sharing your lessons, Donna!

    1. I don’t know if they ate the tulips but I caught them sawing off the heads….devils. I pretty much gave up on tulips too, although I may add some to a cutting bed if I can protect them. Happy to share the squirrels and the lessons learned Beth!

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