Thursday, October 09, 2008
Now that fall is here, the yard and trees are filled with a large family of gray squirrels that have been gathering around my oak trees. The acorns must be deliciously tender, because they are snatched from the branches before the nuts ever have a chance to hit the ground.
I have two outdoor tabby cats that sit grouchily nearby the trees to watch them. They desperately want to attack the squirrels, but they are smart enough to know better. A squirrel can put up a good fight and has a nasty bite. But Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel have lost a few youngsters on account of the cats, and they maintain a long and loud grudge.
Ever hear a squirrel scold? Think of the sound of a cicada pushed through a cheese grater. It's an annoying, scritching kind of chirp. I'd never heard a squirrel before until I bought my house. Either I didn't notice, or squirrels at rental apartments are oddly silent. I can always tell when one of my cats has wandered into the brush under a tree-- the loud scritching chirping fills the backyard. Lo and behold, one of the cats comes sauntering out of the brush. His demeanor is cool as a cucumber, but inside he's sweating. I've never seen a cat and squirrel fight, but it's got to be ugly.
The squirrels around here are very acrobatic. It's fun to watch them tiptoe across my neighbor's wooden border fence, eight feet high with pointed tips. They run across the tips as if it's solid rock. They leap into my trees from branch to branch. I've never seen one fall down. I wish I was as agile.
Soon all the squirrels will be settled in for their winter slumber. I don't mind the critters- they are a natural birth control for wayward trees, and they are extremely entertaining. They put on as good a vaudeville-style show as found in the best of Vegas vacations. So it's the last call for food and forage before winter hits, and the squirrels are gathering like there's no tomorrow. Watching them scamper about so rapidly coupled with seeing the geese making their V-formations early this year makes me wonder about our winter season. I'd better take a hint and start battening down the hatches, looks like a long, cold one this year.
P.S. Did you know that a squirrel nest is called a "drey"?
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and TreeHugger.