Friday, September 10, 2010

babies falling from trees

This has the makings of  a shaggy squirrel story. First I met a man over by the fountain who told me there was a woman over by the flagpole who was wearing a running suit, who had found a baby squirrel and did not know what to do with it. He said he had seen her just 5 minutes ago, so I rushed across the park hoping to catch up with her. When I arrived there was no woman with a squirrel to be found. I began walking around looking for a baby squirrel on the ground. Then a UPS man came over and told me that a while ago he had seen a baby squirrel over by Bldg. 510, which is the easternmost building in the park. So we walked over there but there was no baby squirrel there now.  He said it had been right by the entrance, acting like it was trying to get in the front door. He peered into the lobby as if it might already be in there.  I spent some time searching around, but finally left when it began to get dark.

Later that evening I was speaking with Bernie Goetz, who  had called from upstate and unfortunately was not around to help, but he said he'd heard from a woman who found a baby squirrel that he was going to retrieve as soon as he got back. I figured that must be the woman in the running suit by the fountain.   I was glad to hear that and asked him to be on the lookout for the other baby as well, who might be still out there. He retrieved the one but wasn't able to find the other, so later that day I went back to search again. I was delayed feeding the other squirrels who had decided to be very hungry that day, so it was late by the time I got back to the spot where the baby had been seen by the UPS man.

There  I met a woman with a dog, who told me that just a little while ago she had seen TWO baby squirrels! She said they must have fallen from their nest and pointed to a tree by the park entrance where there was  a  large nest.  She said that one of its nest mates was already dead on the ground, but this one was alive and running around all over the place! She said it ran up a man's pants leg, then it ran straight towards her dog! "So you know it was acting crazy" she laughed. "Throw some nuts around for it" she sang out as she left. I didn't find it funny. I spent time looking for the poor little thing but to no avail.   I was cursing myself for always being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact I was heartsick about it.

A couple days later I was sitting on a bench having fun with my new friend Tom. Tom's a pigeon that thinks he's a squirrel. I've never fed  pigeons because I hate the way they all flock around all over you. But Tom was different, because he actually kept other pigeons at bay while I was trying to feed the squirrels. I liked that. So I started throwing an occasional shelled peanut morsel at Tom. And Tom liked that. Of course he didn't have a name yet.

Then a pretty young woman with a big basket sat down next to me on the bench and asked, "Would you like to see my squirrels?"

I said "Sure!"

She opened her basket and brought out a baby -- and it turned out to be the same baby that had been acting crazy the other day! She said its sibling had died but that she was able to save this little one. When she found it, it was unconscious on the ground but still breathing. Now it seemed to be just fine and looked up at me with a curious little face.  I was so relieved to find out it had been saved because I was still worried about it! Then she showed me the other one that she was given by a vet who was a bit younger and hadn't opened his eyes yet. She let me hold both of them. What a thrill.

Then she noticed my pigeon and told me about Henry, who is a pigeon that she'd recently healed and released.   I think it was the one that has no left foot but does very well in spite of that. He's very aggressive. She said he comes to the name Henry when you call him, and that I should give my pigeon a name. She said they're very smart, as smart as Dolphins. So that is how Tom got named (although I have no idea if he's a Tom or not, and really have no desire to know). But he is funny. When he's not scaring the other birds away or scaring the squirrels away, he creeps up close to my feet to grab a nut the same way a squirrel does it -- sneaking up slowly and sort of crouching so as (it believes)  not to attract attention - then either quickly grabbing the nut or sometimes losing its nerve and backing away. She said pigeons love peanuts for some reason. Maybe because they think they're squirrels?

So it looks like a nest of babies somehow lost their mama, but at least two were saved and have homes for the moment. Bernie now has his hands full with Baby Girl and Julie as well as the new baby and also an injured adult that arrived around the same time.

Bernie with Baby Girl and Julie

Can you spot the squirrel?
(hint: Baby Girl is burying a nut!)

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