Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soft Release Day 2: Babygirl's Big Adventure

I had an early call from Bernie that he was bringing Babygirl back to PCV today. By the time I arrived she had already been released and he told me I had just missed the big excitement: she'd had a confrontation in a tree with an adult squirrel and there had been a skirmish, followed by a loud PLOP! as one of them fell from the tree. To Bernie's relief it was not Babygirl but the much larger squirrel that had fallen. The feisty little dynamo had won a turf battle on her second day out!

As he was telling me this I watched her climb a tall tree. Up, up, up she went, finally stopping to rest where the branches formed a vee.  She stayed there forever, motionless as a statue. We hung around for over an hour, but she never moved. Bernie said that squirrels do that sometimes, not to worry. But I worried. She was so high up in that tree! And nothing - not even her tail - ever moved. He eventually went to get some refreshments while I kept watching the tree. Nothing happened. We finally both had to leave as the day wore on.

I had some shopping to do, but returned later that afternoon to check on her. I did not see her in the tree, so I started hunting around for her, to no avail. Finally Bernie arrived and found that she was still up in the tree! She had moved laterally to the other side, where I'd neglected to look. She was no longer sitting in the vee, but was just hanging there motionless, hugging the tree. Hawk bait.

Luckily, the hawks seem to have left the PCV area. We think  winters may have been too harsh for them here, and many may have left the city. I can see from reading the sidebar Watching the Enemy that they're still breeding in Riverside Park, but the last time I saw any at PCV was early last winter when there was pack of maybe 9 or 10 of them sitting on the rooftop of one of the buildings here, and they all took off in unison, flying south. I don't believe they ever came back. Throughout last  winter I never saw another hawk. So we were not too worried about her having an encounter with a hawk.

We set up watch, trying to call her down. She neither went up or down but would only move horizontally around the tree. It dawned
on us that she was simply too petrified to climb down. Perhaps
her fall yesterday compounded by the other squirrel's
fall today contributed to her fear. Or maybe just looking down at the ground from that height was causing paralysis. For whatever  reason, Babygirl the Gladiator had met her come-uppance and was rooted to the spot.

Bernie was kicking himself for releasing her by such a tall tree. He walked around looking at all the smaller trees that would have been safer for practicing her first climbs. When it got dark we finally had to go, but it was hard leaving the little squirrel clinging to the tree. Would she be able to stay that way all night long? Would she fall asleep,  then fall to the ground? Would she eventually come down after dark when she couldn't see enough to be scared?

To be continued...

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