Thursday, May 05, 2011

Squirrel Tales

We live in a squirrel riddled neighborhood. I always take it as a sign that a neighborhood is established if it has attracted squirrels.

When we first moved to our home 30 years ago, the neighborhood was newly built--and had no squirrels.
There were few trees--maybe that explained the dearth of squirrels. I set about planting trees, not because I wanted squirrels, but because I wanted shade. We bought about 30 trees--many of them bare root stock spindly little things--and planted them all around our property.

(Small rabbit trail--a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with our young neighbor boy, who remarked about the trees. I told him that we planted them all. This conversation took place just before Earth Day. The neighbor boy was really impressed that we had planted all those trees--whoa, he said, I can tell my teacher that for Earth Day. That made me smile.)

Anyway, now with lots of trees, and our putting out many feeders for the birds, we have attracted lots of squirrels. Their acrobatic antics have become quite amusing. They scale poles designed to defeat them, they lift the tops of weighted bird feeders so they can reach the seeds, they leap across chasms of space to get from one seed point to another. (The photo to the left--the photo is correct; the squirrel is standing upside down eating a bit of corn.)

Well, today, yet another squirrel met its fate. I was heading out of the neighborhood on my way to a meeting. I looked up to see a red tail hawk flying overhead with a limp squirrel in its talons. A small bird was harassing the hawk. In that drama of hawk and harasser the squirrel was a bit player. But of course to the squirrel, it was front and center.

A few years ago, I witnessed a similar mortal struggle between hawk and squirrel on the campus where I was teaching. It doesn't take much to distract students, so when students spied a hawk with squirrel in its grip, they all craned to look out the window and watch the death struggle. The hawk sat calmly atop the squirrel until it ceased struggling.

I did not see the denouement of today's struggle. I only saw the aftermath. When I returned home, my husband was mowing. He stopped briefly, and said he had something to show me. There, next to our sidewalk lay the dead squirrel, with gouges in its side. I am guessing the harassing bird harried the hawk enough for it to drop its prey. The squirrel was scooped up, and dropped into the recycling cans along with yard waste.

The cycle of life, death, return to earth. O, fortuna.


Anvilcloud said...

I think the squirrels owe the birds a meal or two for all of the seed that they gobble. :)

Anonymous said...

Even though I don't find the little bastards are cute except possibly in someone's yard far away from my own, I do hate to think of them leaving in hawk or owl talons. But with luggage tied atop a miniature RV? Fine with me.

NCmountainwoman said...

Send the hawk our way, PLEASE.

Ruth said...

We have way too many greedy squirrels about. I do like our Red Squirrel, because we only have one.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Awe the cycle of life. If you had left the dead squirrel in the open you might have a a visit from a Turkey Vulture. They are very facinating being natures garbage recyclers of flesh.

Ginnie said...

Squirrels are not my favorites either but I must say I much prefer them outside. I had a family in my attic once and it took an exterminator and lots of $$$ to get them out !