Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Squirrel Nesting Season

Last week I saw a grey squirrel plucking dried beech leaves off branches and stuffing them into its mouth. Beeches cling to their leaves as long as possible, and this protected branch had held most of the now-faded- to-light-bronze leaves all winter. The squirrel was taking full advantage of this nesting material.

Just a few minutes ago, I was headed downstairs and some moving color caught my eye, and I shrieked and started laughing.

A scrap of bright green acrylic blanket was moving up the trunk of a tall pine tree. The scrap is about 1 foot wide and three or more feet long. It was originally outside to be used to cover a goat house entrance, but it was too narrow. It was then put into use to cover the grain dishes to make them easier to un-bury after a snowfall. We keep the dishes outside the gate.

The squirrel really wanted that prize for its nest! We watched as it moved up the trunk, then suddenly near calamity! The squirrel got tangled in the blanket, lost its purchase on the trunk, and fell. The blanket hooked on a branch and the squirrel saved itself. Close call!!!

The squirrel must have thought so too, for it returned to the trunk above the blanket and stayed still for some moments. Then it went back to the blanket and started tugging on it. This went on for some minutes, and it appeared that the squirrel was trying to tear the blanket into smaller pieces. But the blanket is too tough.

Then the squirrel tried backing up the tree pulling the blanket. That didn't work very well. I don't think squirrels can go very far backwards vertically, especially with the weight of the blanket.

The next step the squirrel stopped and stuffed as much of the blanket as possible into its mouth, trying to get it out of the way. Then the blanket resumed its up-the-trunk ascent-and it looked like the squirrel was under the blanket climbing blind.

At this point I had the cam and was trying to adjust the settings, as we were watching through a window from some distance. Just when I got the cam set, the squirrel and blanket went to the back side of the tree and we lost eye contact with the proceedings.

We watched awhile longer, as I was worried the squirrel was going to fall a great distance in its efforts, but after not seeing anything for a few minutes, we lost interest in staring at the trees.

There is a nest high in that tree already. I am not sure if the squirrel was going to add to the original nest or build a new one. I will try and get a glimpse of the bright green blanket later to determine where it ended up.

I think it will make a great nest! The material is sort of water resistant and if the squirrel is clever, it will act as a barrier to hungry crows that find baby squirrels a tasty supper. If I can find the blanket up in the tree from a ground position, I will try and get a pic.

The whole thing was very amusing! Except for the scary near fall, that is.

Here's where the blanket ended up:

We can't figure out why it is so far from the trunk. There was some wind when we stopped observing, so maybe the wind blew it to this branch. The main nest is the dark spot to the right of the blanket.

I cropped this shot-the blanket is hanging approx. 60 feet off the ground.

1 comment:

Wood Mouse said...

Should the post title not be, squirrel blanket season? Oh what I would not have given to have been a witness to that!

I wonder if the Squirrel thought it would build a hammock up there? Well if it builds a sun deck then you know you have upmarket neighbours.