Winter coat
Saturday November 22nd 2014, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Other food sources must be low this time of year because this past week or so I’ve suddenly had a ton of squirrels arriving here. Usually there’s just one or two or none, but these were all over the place (six, seven, eight, okay, who else out there? Get out of my tomatoes!) being both destructive (do not dig up my baby trees’ roots and you. will. not. come close enough to chew on my house) and getting into fights. Remembering the time one bit off part of another’s ear, I knew how violently territorial they can get–but for the first time I actually saw one work so hard at chasing all those newcomers away that it got slower and slower and finally was too tired to continue.

All for those nasty hot safflower seeds they don’t even like.

I picked all the cherry tomatoes that were big enough to have any chance of ripening off the vine.

Several times of late, too, I’ve seen one stay right there on the patio under the birdfeeder with Coopernicus just feet away, deliberately ignoring him other than quickly flipping around when he changes places so as to always be facing him: he has always come at squirrels from behind where teeth and claws can’t hurt and a tail can’t thwap in his eyes. I have twice seen him strafe them as if to grab but I have never seen him actually intend to catch one.

And clearly they know how he would hunt them. So a few have been brazen enough to dare him to try. They’d be heavy for him to try to lift and away with.

Remember, though, that female Cooper’s hawks are about a third larger than the males and that we now have a mated pair.

I have no way to know which it was.

I guess Wednesday’s rat tasted good.

I guess someone wanted a bigger helping.

This morning I woke up to soft tufts of fur right outside the door that I don’t let the squirrels get close to: black, a bit of gray, one bit of white–belly fur. Having gone there, it had had no room to escape.

It took about an hour before it even occurred to me to override the no’s from all the childhood parental rules about touching wild things much less from dead wild things and to tell myself, Listen: you’re a fiber artist. You’ve wanted for years to stroke their fur and see if it’s actually soft and now you not only can, you can spin it!

There’s about enough to make a shawl for a squirrel. A small squirrel.

And it is very, very, soft. I finally know.

(And then after gathering it into a jar I washed my hands thoroughly, twice. My Mom and Dad read this blog. Just sayin’.)

2 Comments so far
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I’d love to send you some fur from here — the little beasties are in full all storage mode and they keep digging up my landscape mulching — grrr!

ok, so do we need to do the same freeze/bake/freeze cycle that we use for getting rid of moths to make that stuff safe to play with further?

Comment by Bev 11.23.14 @ 11:00 am

Giggle… you could have just asked, Alison. Dad’s secretary bottle-fed a flying squirrel orphan one summer and MJ has prepared them for cooking.

Comment by Channon 11.23.14 @ 4:00 pm

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