Saturday, September 14, 2019

Squirrel Food

Fall! It's a wonderful time for squirrels: the days are cool and they're not sweltering or freezing and there's plenty of food from Nature's bounty (which means we get a vacation). Thanks be to the squirrel gods!

There's an especially large acorn harvest this year. They're strewn everywhere.

An acorn and a sweet gum ball

Polishing off a sweet gum ball

Honey  Locust
The fruit of the honey locust is a long, flat legume (pod) that matures in early autumn. The young, unripe pods, with their sweet, sticky, and aromatic pulp, are edible and contain about 12-42% sugar. 

The pale green seed pods turn reddish-brown and black, when they mature.
As they ripen, the seed pods produce a strong smell. The sticky pulp inside the pods is edible.

The large deciduous hardwood tree, sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) also goes by the names redgum, sapgum, starleaf-gum and bilsted.

Up to 50 seeds can be found within each spiky ball.
They bloom with inconspicuous, yellowish-green flowers in the spring that turn to seedpods -- which are often called gumballs -- in the fall. The spiky clusters are actually balls of fruit with tiny seeds inside that birds and squirrels snack on.

By mid-fall, the balls are dead and seedless.

It's a good year for  hawthorn berries this. Birds, squirrels, raccoons and rabbits like to eat fruit and seed of hawthorn.
Lots and lots of berries

A feast

Enjoying the Harvest

Optimal eating position  

Great for digestion

Monday, September 2, 2019

Life Support

Some of the squirrels are definitely having a hard time finding enough to eat. I just found this little guy yesterday and he doesn't look so good. He has a bad case of what's known as mange. I'm seeing more and more cases like this now that the new regime of not feeding squirrels has been in effect for a few months. I fed him a lot of nuts and it was as if  he couldn't get enough. He just kept eating and eating! Will I ever see him again?

The squirrels are magical creatures who seem to come out of the woodwork, then disappear again. Sometimes I get the feeling that there's a whole world of squirrels all around us that we know nothing about.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Has Anyone Seen Lady Gray Today?

Have you guys seen her?

Oh There she is!

She had disappeared for more than a week. She would do that in the past, but I think there were others feeding her then. This time she looked like she hadn't eaten in a while. I found her wandering out on the sidewalk all by herself, obviously looking for me. I've considered the possibility that she may be molting, but nevertheless, her fur looked bad and her tail looked terrible.

So I went out to feed her for 3 days in a row. And she managed to find me 3 days in a row. She knew she was in trouble. Now only 3 days later, I think she looks a lot better.

She ate everything I fed her: avocado, fresh coconut, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts -- and, of course, peanuts. The peanuts won out over everything -- no doubt about it, eating a peanut is pure bliss for a squirrel.

Pure Bliss

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Squirrel-sanitized Sanctuary

The Empty Green

Once the playground of squirrels, the lawn at Peter Cooper Village now looks pretty empty much of the time.

For humans only

Except for the occasional human, that is. The other day I overheard a woman telling her friends: "You know how I feel about squirrels!" I could only imagine what her friends knew, but the same day I heard another woman telling her kids to watch out for nasty squirrels.

At Peter Cooper Village, dogs are pets, squirrels are pests

The squirrels are being systematically replaced by animals that folks feel more comfortable with: dogs.

Officially approved animals

A Squirrel Purge?

Along with the "no feeding rule" there are now lots of these scary-looking black boxes placed around the property.

"Get Rid Of Your Pest Infestation For Good.
 ...including removal of bed bugs, bird infestations, mice, rats, cockroaches, flies, spiders, fleas, moths, and just about any other troublesome pest you can imagine."

Uh... like squirrels?

If only squirrels could read...

'Nuff Said!!!


If squirrels could sue...

So it's past the mid-summer mark now and the proposed New York City Parks Dept. rule that would ban the feeding of squirrels and other wildlife is still not in effect. However, a similar ban has been in effect at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for three and a half months now.

So what are we seeing?
Well the main thing I've observed is scanty tails on squirrels that aren't being fed. When you understand the importance of a tail you realize that a squirrel with a tail that's not in tip-top shape has a pretty serious deficit. A squirrel's tail is its crowning glory, and holds its power. Where the tail goes, so goes the squirrel.

Here's what a squirrel's tail should look like

A squirrel's tail in all its glory

This poor little female squirrel has actually lost part of her tail. She also has some kind of skin condition where she is losing her fur.

This poor little guy has a swollen eye.

So these are the kinds of things we've been seeing. To those who are advocating just letting squirrels eat what nature provides, you can see that for squirrels in city parks, nature just isn't providing enough to keep them healthy.

Dumpster Divas

New York City's proposed prohibition on feeding squirrels has not yet gone into effect, but it seems to be already having an effect. According to a recent article in the Gothamist:

"NYC Park Visitors Warned About Hangry Squirrels Out For Blood"

According to a Parks official,  there's been a string of squirrel attacks recently, which would indicate that there are lots of hungry and angry squirrels out there. Well, I've seen some hungry squirrels at Peter Cooper Village, but I have yet to see any angry squirrels. Only sad and scared squirrels. And I've noticed something curious: some squirrels appear to have almost internalized the new ban on feeding them there, and skulk around as if eating a peanut is a punishable act. Somehow they know. So sad.

Trash Can Diving

Some squirrels have taken to diving into the trash cans.

Got it!

This squirrel dove in again and again, each time coming up with a little nugget in its mouth. Wondering what it was, I looked in and saw a bag of chips!
Stacy's Chips

Making Do  

 I saw a squirrel eating an entire sandwich right through the saran wrap. Another squirrel was chewing on a napkin.

Hmm... smells like food

This looks good

A well-chewed wrapper

Trash Disposal

Buried treasure? Or buried trash?

Lady Black Gets Collared

I found my precious pet Lady Black with this plastic cup around her neck. God knows how that happened. She could have been wearing it for several days before I found her. She wasn't able to get it off herself and seemed very agitated. I quickly helped her and she now loves me even more.

What a revoltin' development this is!