It's a Bird, it's a Plane, it's a ...
The Book Report, May 2006

Squirrelpalooza Continues ...

You knew it had been too long since a squirrel post ... ;)

My parents just returned from a long weekend in Vermont, and they brought home some lovely little gifts for us. By far my favorite was this:


A beautiful red squirrel suncatcher!! (I'd just like to point out that that's pollen and not dust on my window!)

We hung it in the window that looks out at the feeders they visit... And if you can even believe this, as I am typing right now, the red squirrel himself is scampering through the branches as if on cue ...

You know, I think we may have to change our name from The Riverwood School to The Nut House!


But I digress ...

They also brought us a copy of a new Thornton Burgess book ~ The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel. We've enjoyed hearing about the antics of the mischevious Chatterer, though we can't imagine our own Red Tail being nearly as as impudent as he!

So what have our squirrels been up to you might wonder? Well, we'd be very happy to fill you in. :) One recent morning, we were quite pleased to discover all three of our favorite characters ~ Blackie, Tough-Nut and Red Tail ~ had arrived at our feeders, all at the very same time! I kid you not!

And so, as squirrel mania continues around here, here's a recap of the usual suspects (these pictures were all taken just moments apart):


Above you see Blackie, our black Eastern Gray. He appeared to have the upper hand in the squirrel equation this day, though he tolerated the others at a distance.

"Within my own memory, the beautiful black squirrel was as common in our woods as was his red cousin; the shotgun has exterminated this splendid species locally. Well may we rejoice that the red squirrel has, through its lesser size and greater cunning, escaped a like fate." (Comstock, Handbook of Nature Study).

Not so sure about that shotgun theory, but these squirrels are indeed a rarer sight than the ordinary grays. And speaking of grays, though he's certainly not ordinary ...


Here is our Tough Nut, standing up on his back legs, craning his neck as I chattered on to him through the open window; doesn't he look eager for some intelligent conversation? (And I use intelligent here loosely, on my part, not his.)

"A native of North America that has now been introduced in parts of Europe, the Eastern Gray Squirrel is gray on the back and white to gray or pinkish brown on its underparts. Its face, back and forelegs are tinged brown and its tail is white or pale gray. Unlike the Red Squirrel its ears are not tufted. It displays a strong homing tendency, although males are known to travel long distances. A social animal, it warns other squirrels of danger through different sounds, and chatters its teeth when confronted." (Smithsonian Handbooks: Mammals)

Tough Nut and Blackie seem to have a deal loosely worked out; as long as Tough Nut keeps his distance, Blackie lets him be. Sometimes, though, Tough Nut gets a moment of peace and can enjoy the tray feeder all to himself:


And now for the cutest of the bunch, the smart little whip who hung out well above the fracas below:


This is Red Tail, our little red squirrel. Doesn't he look like he just jumped out of the pages of Beatrix Potter? We thought the following poem captured his funny and feisty charms:

The Red Squirrel or Chickaree

Just a teeny glimmer, a dash of red and gray,

Was it a flitting shadow or a sunbeam gone astray!

It glances up a tree trunk, and a pair of bright eyes glow

Where a little spy in ambush is measuring his foe.

I hear a mocking chuckle, then wrathful, he grows bold

And stays his pressing business to scold and scold and scold.

This uncredited poem was found in Ms. Comstock's book, and she goes on to describe her experiences with Furry, a baby red squirrel she raised. But I have yet to read that particular passage aloud to the boys, lest they get any good crazy ideas! Things are nutty enough around here! :)

And before I go, please indulge me one (or three) more pictures of Red Tail ... he spent some time at the feeders yesterday afternoon and allowed me to take several shots ...




O.K. that should do me for a while. :)