For Mother Earth
While perched, motionless, on the edge of my stone bench, hunched behind my camera and tripod, trying to capture some bird images, I was treated to a visit from our “front-yard squirrel.” Smaller, with a more feathery tail than “Mr. Squirrel,” who has staked out our backyard as his domain, this squirrel specializes in stealing bird food from the “squirrel-proof” bird feeder. Never mind that an entire basket, hanging a mere foot away, has been supplied with special squirrel food and peanuts.
This squirrel prefers to dangle from the tree by its back toes and lightly press the lever which the birds would sit on. Just that amount of pressure, exactly, opens the chamber containing the seeds. If something too heavy, such as an entire squirrel, were to put its weight on it, the compartment would close up tightly. But, this little critter figured out that by performing a trapeze contortionist act, it could reach out a paw and press that lever just exactly right! And, it seems to prefer the mental and physical stimulation it receives from this task to the “no-brainer” of simply eating the squirrel food provided for it.
We have created a bit of an oasis in our yard, dedicating it to the birds, bees and butterflies. We have even certified it as a Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. And, in reward, we are lucky enough to watch the return of the monarchs each year. On their path north, many of them stop here for a “milkweed break.”
And, we mark the calendar for when the Orioles should arrive.
And the tiny rufous hummingbird, ferocious and terrorizing to the other hummers, also arrive here every spring.
And, we love to watch the bees dusting their tiny toes with the pollen of the many flowers we plant for them.
So, today, when “front-yard” squirrel showed up, I snapped some photos. And when I came inside to look at them, I realized that “front-yard” squirrel is Mama Squirrel! Can you see her mammary glands? She obviously has little ones tucked away somewhere in the hedge.
Earlier this spring, we laughed, watching Mr. Squirrel and another squirrel chasing each other madly, in circles, up and down the pine trees. They would leap, one right after the other, through the tree canopy. And they chattered, those sharp little squirrel barks, frantically back and forth.
So, my guess is that we, now, have a complete squirrel family. Mr. Squirrel and Mama Squirrel (although she was still “front yard squirrel” then) had a lovely courtship. And, now, we have the next generation of the squirrel family safely ensconced somewhere out of sight.
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Story and photos ©Erika Burkhalter. All rights reserved.