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By Diana Diamond

Chirps about birds—and tales about bushy-tailed squirrels

Uploaded: May 10, 2022

I’ve always enjoyed my garden, especially during the spring, when birds build their nests and baby birds emerge.

Two summers ago, two birds nested and nestled in a small wall planter outside my family room door. One evening, my husband and I were sitting on our deck, sipping wine, watching the parents each bring dinner to their hungry crew. The father would go out and deliver a piece of something to the nest, the mother would make sure the birds got the food in their mouths, and then she would scurry out off to bring more tidbits back.

Suddenly, their timing was off. The two parents flew toward the nest, seemingly unaware their mate was heading the same direction. They collided midair, fell gently to the ground, stood up and shook their tousled feathers. But then the argument began.

The mother started circling around her mate, chirping furiously at him. We thought we could understand her conversation: “Didn’t you look where you were flying? Why did you bump into me? Did you have your signal on? How can you be so forgetful?”

The ruffled father just stood there, trying to look away. We both laughed, and then my husband said, “Sounds like you commenting on my driving!”

Last year there must have been a big sign in the sky over my house that read, “Bird lodgings below. Free rent.” The reply was outstanding. – and I had room for all.

Three mourning doves scattered around the yard – one of them next to the same family room window. The mother was a evidently a laid-back bird, because as I routinely opened the door to go outside, she would just sit comfortably. No fluttering. I started talking to her, and she looked a me. Soon she let me pet her! On her forehead!

The day they all took off in flight, I looked up and mother and kids flew right by, evidently thanking me for the stay. It was a wonderful farewell.

At home with squirrels and my dog

The fence on the east side of my house has become Squirrel Highway 101. It leads to an oak tree in the back yard – which produces an abundance of acorns ach fall. This two-lane highway had lots of daily traffic– back and forth, to and from the tree.

Now, my little dog loves squirrels, with a passion. He dreams of catching one, but he has failed for six years. Each morning he comes down. jumps on the sofa by the window, and patiently waits for them to scurry by. He can hear them coming, runs to the window, and goes out through the garage to chase them. The squirrels recognize him, so if they go one direction and he follows, they quickly turn around and run the other way, oftentimes onto the roof. Dog comes inside, and waits for the next one.

This all caused me to look into squirrel life in this area, which has been increasing, especially the black squirrels. I am not being racist, but the black ones, originally from the Southeast, have more testosterone, and the gray babes evidently prefer them as mates. (Honestly, I read this in squirrel facts.)

The characteristics of these creatures with bushy tales are:

• Communication: Squirrels are extremely vocal -- they bark, chatter, scream, and purr to communicate with one another. They also communicate through body language, by moving their tails and stomping their feet.
• The majority of a squirrel's diet consists of a hard mast like acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, or seeds. In fact, from September through March, one squirrel requires around 1.5 lbs. of mast per week to survive.

• Squirrel's teeth never stop growing, so squirrels must continually chew and gnaw to keep their teeth filed down.
• Squirrels use their fluffy tails to balance when traveling throughout treetops and electrical lines. A squirrel's tail can also serve as a parachute to ease falls - squirrels can fall from heights of up to 100 feet without injuring themselves.

I soon found online a recipe for squirrel stew (use only the back feet and the adjacent meat), but I passed on that thought

Squirrels are around the house all year round. In the fall and winter, they claw into my flower pots to find hidden acorns. But this spring they’ve used the same techniques to nibble on my newly planted impatiens. But, and I rationalize, this gives my dog a better chance to be entertained daily.

I can’t close without this comment I found online:

“Why are there so many more squirrels in California than there used to be?”
It has to do with the conspicuous nature of those who win elections here.

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