Monday, November 18, 2013

Squirrel TV

Since it is deer season, I have been watching what I refer to as "Squirrel TV".  Squirrel TV is when you sit, in the deer stand, seeing no deer, but watching squirrels scamper around the woods going about their daily activities.

I am thankful for Squirrel TV because it keeps you from getting totally bored between deer sightings, it's educational, and because it can be downright funny.

Some episodes of Squirrel TV that I have been privileged to watch are:

Predator! About the time that three squirrels who were having a good time jumping around in the leaves together and running around on fallen trees were spotted by a barred owl. Who then sat silently watching them until. . . the owl suddenly swooped down out of its tree and attempted to snatch one of the squirrels off of a log!!  The squirrel saw the owl coming at the last minute, gave a mighty yell (yes, squirrels really can yell mightily!), and ducked sideways, falling off the log and avoiding the owl's talons.  The squirrel then proceeded to run as fast as it could into a hole in a nearby tree while the owl flew off, foiled.

Corn Harvest.  About the year that the field at this little place here was in corn.  By deer season, the ears of corn had dried down and hung heavy, upside down, on the corn stalks.  Resourceful squirrels, looking to add to their stores of winter food supplies, climbed the corn stalks, then climbed down to the silk-ends of the ears of corn, and hung there, until the ear of corn broke free from the stalk.  At which point the squirrels would carry the ears off to where ever it was they were caching their corn.  (Watching a squirrel hang by it's front paws from an ear of corn, body stretched full out and not touching the ground was something I had never seen before.)

Apple Picking. Where a squirrel repeatedly climbs up to the outermost branches of an apple tree , picks an apple, then carries the apple in it's mouth back down to ground level.  There, it proceeds to sit and eat the apple.  This can be quite a process, involving climbing nearby trees and jumping into the thin branches of the apple tree.  And sometimes missing and grasping wildly for anything to break it's fall (and amazingly, always catching onto some filament-like branch that is strong enough to bear the weight of the squirrel and save it from crashing to earth.)

Leaf Gathering.  In this episode, a squirrel chooses leaves to line it's nest high in the tree tops.  Apparently only certain leaves will do, sometimes they are found on the ground and sometimes they are picked from the tree they still cling to in their dead and brown state.  All leaves chosen must be dried crispy, but then stuffed into cheek pouches to be carried up into the tree top again to the nest, where they are unloaded and arranged just so.

Squirrel Identification.  Where you learn how many different varieties of squirrels live in your locale.  In this episode, two or even three different kinds of squirrels are shown within a ten-foot radius of each other.  The ones most often show are fox squirrels, gray squirrels, and black squirrels.  The smaller red squirrels are not usually part of the woodsy group, and are normally seen more in the trees lining the fencerows.  You can see the size difference between the gray ones and the fox and black ones.  You can also hear the slightly different voices they have.  And see that the fox ones seem to be the most aggressive and territorial.

Squirrel Location.  This one features hearing noises in the brush or leaves, and trying to locate the exact source of the noise.  Which 99.9% of the time turns out to be a squirrel, not a deer.  Darn it!

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