Okay, they are adorable so I have to write about them and show my pictures. For a few days in the spring, three young red squirrels made my deck their playground. They were so inexperienced, they did not yet have the sense to be afraid of humans or humans with cameras. They chased each other about, raced through the mock orange bush and took naps on the sunny railing. I have no idea where their parents were and why they were allowed to run so heedlessly loose in a dangerous world.
They tried the peanut feeder but it is so hedged round with defenses that they had to give up. They had not yet worked out how to slurp the nectar from the hummingbird feeder so they settled on the oriole’s orange. They munched that down with gusto and ran off with the rind. I have given up on other kinds of feeders due to the incursions of the black squirrels. An upside down plastic bowl as a baffle on a pole may defeat the small chipmunks and red squirrels but the black squirrels just leap over it and greedily stuff themselves as fast as they can.
Red squirrels eat mostly nuts and seed but they will also chow down on about anything else handy such as fruit, berries, mushrooms, buds, flowers, leaves, birds’ eggs even other baby animals. Whatever birds will eat, they will happily share. The hardy little creatures are spread all across the centre of the continent from Alaska to the Atlantic. In the great northern forests, they live on spruce cones, creating large middens of empty husks below the tree where they reside
The female is fertile for only one day and will venture out of her territory to find a date. In this, she has no problem and may party with over a dozen fellows just to make sure of her family. Babies, usually three or four, are born blind and hairless in a nest of grass and leaves high in a tree. They emerge from the nest in about six weeks to start exploring. Perhaps the mama of these three was glad for a little peace and quiet at home.
My visitors looked about half grown and full of vim and vigor. After about three days, when they had exhausted my treat supply, they disappeared. I hope the little creatures made it across the big open yard to the safety of the woods. They need to enjoy life while they can since they are a favourite menu item for the local carnivores. Only about 20% survive until the age of one. If they manage that, they might last about three years. The ripest old age for a red squirrel is eight. Good luck to them all. I also hope they forget that my bird feeders may eventually be refilled.
#redsquirrels #birdfeeders #squirrels