A question of squirrels
Last week was pretty exciting for me on Instagram. As you know I post a lot of my photos there. The adventures I post here work better with a theme, when I have a story to tell. Instagram gets what is new, current or fits with a particular challenge.
Last Friday I posted this sweet little squirrel. I took this photo at Brazos Bend the day it was so cloudy and overcast. It was a nice change since I had been posting snakes, lizards and alligators.
This guy was used by Royal Snapping Artists to announce my membership in the family; it is a supportive group of Instagram folks that promote each others work by tagging and following and saying nice things about each other. I have discovered a lot of photographers I would have never run across ... and I have a lot of new ideas percolating...
And the next day I wake up and find the same squirrel pix was selected by another feature, Nuts about Squirrels. See him over there on the right center? And look at all those other squirrels! The red one on the left is from Europe, they have those ear tufts! Squirrels are easy to find, have great expressions and I think they can be bribed to sit still for a photo.
I haven't tried that yet but I think I will!
This little guy and his sibling can almost always be found in the same area in my neighborhood. He isn't tame but seems agreeable. Maybe he is just curious about me.
They don't always pose so nice out in the open. They can be really quick and often just peep around the tree, take a quick look and leave. If they don't cooperate, this is what you get:
That could have been a great shot; the light was great, the focus was good even with all the branches, but ... he wasn't interested in me, just those new green shoots.
This one was running along a fence but was curious enough to stop and stare for a few seconds. Maybe it isn't curiosity after all; I read that they freeze when they sense danger, thinking if they are really, really still, they won't be noticed.
This little one was in a tree. Notice all my neighborhood squirrels have white chests and bellies. I get pictures from my friend in Marble Falls, Texas and his squirrels look as if they have been eating Cheetos. They have rusty-orange chests and underparts. Now I know I am photographing Eastern Gray Squirrel and he has the Eastern Fox Squirrel.
Texas has the two tree squirrels plus there are also Flying Squirrels (extra flaps of skin to enable air-borne movements) but I haven't ever seen any of those. We have ground squirrels such as the Rock Squirrels and Mexican Ground Squirrels, but not in South Texas. From what I read they are mostly in Central Texas and western parts. There is also an Antelope Squirrel if you want to read about it.
Recently I found this one with a sibling in the same area as the great photos from last January. Cant be positive but I think it is the same pair. One is bold and one is shy.
So far, I haven't found any squirrels in the bird feeder. The one above was checking it out from the fence and I have seen one eating on the ground with the doves. The birds do empty the feeder every few days, but I have yet to come home to a pile of seed on the ground or a squirrel hanging upside down having a party.
The one above was taken last November, but I expect we will see lots of momma squirrels during the spring and summer. The guy below wasn't interested in the females, yet. But I expect he will be soon.
From what I have learned, Europe has whole movements to control the "alien American Gray Squirrel" and to protect their native European Red Squirrel. My Instagram buddy Erik posted
The successful Squirrel PR Department have worked hard at communicating nuts as the main food source for squirrels. All the missing bird eggs and chicks are constantly denied or called 'odd behavior from disturbed individual.'
He has a great blog (all in Swedish but there is a Google Translator widget) if you want to read about birding and nature in Sweden and the surrounding areas. The photographs are wonderful in any language.
Our different species here in the US seem to coexist well where the ranges overlap. But I agree, there is all this fascination with squirrels as cute and cuddly critters. They are actually rodents with fluffy tails and can be quite destructive if they take up residence in your home - moving insulation, gnawing on wood - but chewing electrical wires can be a real fire hazard. Squirrels have the kind of teeth that keep growing, so the gnawing keeps them the right length. Not a good idea if they move in to your attic. Or build a nest in your car.
Squirrels in rural areas eat fruit and nuts before harvest time, and have been known to emigrate en masse when food sources are scarce.
So where do you fall on the squirrel question? Adorable lawn cherubs or evil tree rats?
Do you enjoy their inquisitive nature and cute antics? Or do you think they are pests and good only for the stew pot? Let me know in the comments. Remember, you can sign in as a Guest with any name you want; you don't have to fill in the other parts of the log in.