Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I tought I taw a puddy tat

Springtime is lovely, walking around Peter Cooper Village, breathing in the perfume of all the flowering trees and bushes. Only one problem -- the nice weather brings all the dogs out. Every time you turn around, you see another dog being walked. It's stressful on the squirrels!

I was out there today when suddenly the squirrels were all atwitter over on the north side of the east park. I walked over to find out what was causing such a racket. One squirrel led the pack, making a funny noise that was a cross between a wail and the "chuck chuck" squirrel sound, its tail twirling like a pinwheel as it advanced down its tree. Once the alert had been sounded other squirrels chimed in, and it became a cacophony of frightened squirrel sounds.

I looked around for a hawk. The squirrels usually will sense one before I see it. But no... no sign of a big bird anywhere. Finally I saw the object of their attention -- and it was quite far away, by the back wall of building 6. I was surprised they had even seen it, as squirrels do not have very good eyesight. It was a very large tabby -- probably the largest cat I'd ever seen! And it was walking without a leash, its mistress nearby. It turned out to be 13 year old Riley, out enjoying the beautiful weather. Riley was curious about his surroundings, but did not pay much attention to the squirrels, who were not paying Riley the same respect. Eventually he walk right over towards the tree where the leader of the band was poised, causing the squirrel to go totally bananas. At that point I thought there might actually be a confrontation, as there sometimes will be with a hawk, but Riley finally turned and left, after which it took me a long time to calm down the little fellow, who could not stop making his noises. It seemed to be a reflex action, sort of like having the hiccups. I kept feeding him, but he continued to cry as he ate, until finally on the pecan that he stopped crying. He'd probably never had a pecan before, and it took his entire concentration.

I thought it was odd that the squirrels gave such a reception to a cat, because when a dog appears they simply run up the nearest tree. They reserve their caterwauling for the big birds, who they know as predators. So -- I wondered how they were able to distinguish Riley from a dog, especially from such a distance, and why they deemed Riley to be a predator. Another squirrel mystery. They obviously have some sort of 6th sense.

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