Friday, October 29, 2010

Tree Down in PCV

Yesterday PCV lost one of its oldest and biggest trees. They've been cutting down trees with a vengeance recently. We got nervous when we saw the yellow truck parked next to the big squirrel tree, one which was full of  wonderfully large holes. And sure enough, the tree was about to come down.

What a revoltin' development this is! First the return of the hawks, then this sacking of the homeland. The squirrels are sure not "Living the life of Riley" at PCV these days.

In fact I think Tubby had moved over there and if she's already had her babies, her nest was possibly in that tree. Nobody admits to finding any babies' nests there.

I couldn't stand to stand there and watch. We came back a  while later and this is what we found.

And then today, the final death blow had been administered to one of the finest squirrel homes in PCV.
When the cold weather arrives, there will be less room for squirrels to snuggle up and stay warm, with this big tree gone.  Maybe that's why God is sending in the hawks -- to thin the ranks so there's not as much competition for bed space?

Whenever I see trees going down like this, I remember the battle over the old trees in Grammercy Park, and how "they" finally won and took away all the magic from that park. It's not even worth walking out of my way to go by there now. It may look pleasant enough, but it does nothing for me, whereas walking by the old Grammercy Park used to take my breath away.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Hawks are Back

We thought they were gone. We never saw a single hawk last winter, or since then.  Around this time last year I saw about 8 of them sitting all in a row on the rooftop of one of the buildings in PCV, and they suddenly took off en masse flying south. That was the last hawk sighting, and we were thinking that they didn't take to City living (we don't think they belong here either).

But while Bernie was releasing Babyboy in PCV today, he called to tell me that there was a hawk there, eating a black squirrel as he spoke! And a visit to the Urban Hawks blog shows me they are alive and well in NYC.

How much do hawks eat?

According to a falconer:
An average sized female redtail (say 50 oz) which is commonly though erroneously called a hawk- can eat a large squirrel, three rats, or a medium sized rabbit every day when being flown in the season with ideal weather.  If it's very cold, the bird will eat more.  (redtails are actually in the buteo family- buzzards.

How do hawks eat?

Hawks rip their food into small pieces with their talons and beaks, then swallow the chunks.

The hawk picked up its prey and flew toward a large nest in the tall tree by the flagpole. Bernie's concerned that it may be the hawk's
nest. If so, that means it's settled in here at PCV, and could pick off a squirrel a day through the winter, easily ravaging our population single-handedly.

We need to watch that nest for signs of the bird. Unfortunately Bernie didn't think to take a picture of the hawk, but here is the nest it flew towards:

I'm concerned because  Spunky, Tubby, Brownie and Mr. Operator all live in this area. If something happens to any of them there will be hell to pay.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Julie and Littleguy come to Visit

Well we had sort of an aborted visit today. Coming out of the carrier... (remember you can click on a pic to see an enlargement)

The squirrels are skittish and attach themselves to Bernie...
Showing off Julie's red tail...
Not a happy camper...

So let's go outside and get released...

HALLOOO.. anybody in there?

Here I am! What do you want?

Whatcha got there, a nut?
Laying the Lure
 While Julie plays statue, Littleguy shows some interest...
But not enough to get really motivated. These squirrels ain't goin nowhere today.

Meanwhile, seemingly unnoticed, Mr. Operator has found the bag of nuts...
and is making out like the one-eyed bandit that he is ...
In his typical entrepreneurial style... one, bury two.

HEY, Mr. Operator, you're on CANDID CAMERA!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Desperately Seeking Babygirl

Bernie has offered a reward if I can find the little squirrel with the golden tail. It shouldn't be this hard. The squirrels are all out and running all over the place with great energy. It's the cooler weather that does this to them. They've put on their winter coats. I can't believe how BIG Teddy Bear got! They are all carrying acorns in their mouths too, which they did last year around this time. They look so funny! I call it "the fall fashion". But I have no idea what the meaning or cultural significance could be.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Searching for Babygirl

Squirrels have been keeping Bernie busy these days. Yesterday after he brought Babyboy back he told me he was feeding Babyboy and Bronxie from the same syringe, alternating between the two. The little girl squirrel had been fed first and was already asleep in her nest box.

The one I call Bronxie was brought to him from the Bronx, after he was injured by bigger squirrels in a fight. He had a bloody nose and was generally weak and having trouble walking. He is recovering nicely but last night he awoke shrieking from a nightmare. He is obviously traumatized by what happened to him.

Today Bernie gave the little girl over to Kathy, the rehabber who rescued Babyboy's sibling after they all fell out of their nest. So now he's down to four squirrels if Babygirl is found. I asked him if things aren't getting a bit to hectic over there at his office (which is where he keeps them). He agreed that it was, and he's not used to having so many around at once, but it's just the way things have been happening recently. Still no sign of Babygirl though. Bernie searched for several hours this morning. She must have moved from where she'd been released, but to where? It's a big park.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Update on Babyboy

Good news! Babyboy came over to the carrier which Bernie had posted to a tree, and he sat on top of it and ate some nuts. Guess he had a big appetite after last night's storm! He has now been initiated into squirrelhood.

Bernie came up close with the syringe in hand, that was loaded with tapioca pudding and hazelnut milk (he still loves formula from a bottle even though he can eat). He immediately started guzzling, and next thing you know he was inside the carrier! And now he's home fast asleep in his nest box, recuperating from his Big Adventure at PCV :) Three cheers for Bernie who has given an inordinate amount of his time to tracking down this little guy.

Note: he is quite a roamer, and was all over the area, going from tree to tree and keeping Bernie busy in attempts to stay on his tail. At one point he managed to get from one tree to another without coming down while Bernie was staked at the base of the tree. He's a great jumper! And he's still so little.

One disturbing note: Babygirl has still not been seen.

Babyboy sighting

Babyboy was sighted yesterday, moving from tree to tree in the same area where he'd been released. At one point he saw and recognized his green carrier case and went over and sat on top of it, for about a half hour-- his security, his nest box!

Meanwhile his Dad was waiting patiently on the sidelines, so as not to disturb him, hoping he would climb inside. He doesn't seem to have the same recognition factor that Babygirl has, who will run up to her Dad and climb on his arm, making it easy to get her back in the carrier.

Then a dog came along and scared him up a tree! He would not come down again, so he ended up spending last night outside. And what a night it was! First there was a hail storm, followed by rain, thunder and lightening. Hopefully he and Babygirl were both ok.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blackie RIP

Bernie found Blackie this morning on the ground by the tree where we had last seen him. Dead. I feel so sad. Blackie was a beautiful young squirrel, with an unusually soft, glossy coat that had a chenille-like quality, as can be seen in the picture. So cuddly looking, yet this little honey never got cuddled.

When I first saw Blackie, his left rear leg and foot were infected and swollen and his foot was ballooned up to twice the normal size  and red. As soon as I started feeding him the foot came down to normal size. I fed him regularly, as each day he came up to me at around the same time, and ate a wide assortment of nuts.

By the time I took these pictures I thought his foot looked much better, but his leg was still a problem.

He seemed to be improving, and then we had several days of rain when he didn't get fed. and next time I saw him he seemed weaker. Bernie saw him, thought he was badly infected and that we should try to catch him. Unfortunately he escaped the net and ran up a tree, and  I feared that he became so terrified that he'd never come down again. Well that seems to be the case. I've been going to that tree each day feeding 2 small babies that live there, hoping that he was still in that tree and that he'd come down eventually, but he didn't. Then this morning Bernie found his body by the base of the tree. He suffered and died alone, without ever being cuddled.

A few days ago, as we walked around searching for our squirrels, we encountered a lady who asked us, where do squirrels go when they die? This was actually a question I had often asked when I first took an interest in squirrels, and before I'd been initiated into their mysteries. But normally we don't see them when they die. So the fact that Blackie lay there on the ground was a sign to me that he was saying goodbye, and telling us that we didn't have to search for him any longer. Goodbye, Blackie.

Squirrels Hiding in Trees

Babyboy was out of the tree by 7:30am when Pat checked on him, but she did not see him anywhere on the ground. Between the three of us we checked periodically throughout the day but no sign of either of the squirrels. Also no sign of Blackie, the injured black one that Bernie had tried to catch with the net. I haven't seen him since that day and I'm worried that he's too terrified to come down from the tree.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Releasing Babyboy

Hello, World!

Up, up, up and away!
Crossing that bridge as we come to it
So I'm up in the tree - now what?

Meeting Babyboy

This squirrel was one of the babies that had fallen from their nest last month. 
He was rescued by a lady named Pat who called Bernie who came over and took him and has been caring for him ever since.

 He's the one that Babygirl has been attacking. Interestingly enough, right after Babygirl left he started attacking the newcomer to the group, an injured baby male that was brought in from the Bronx the other day. Is it possible that this bullying is learned behavior from Babygirl? Or perhaps just "normal" squirrel territorial jealousy?

Now it's time for Babyboy's first release, but before that his rescuer Pat gets to meet and hold him.

Time to meet Pat
Oh, what a lovely tail!

Hey, Cutie Pie!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Babygirl's next venture: day 4

It's time to release Babygirl again. She's too full of energy in the house and she has also been attacking the little injured boy squirrel. It may be jealousy. Here she is getting released:

On Your Mark
Get Set
Go! (straight up the tree)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Babygirl's next venture: day 3

Bernie found Babygirl on the ground early this morning. She had finally come out of her tree and was with a pack of other squirrels.
Looks like she's starting to socialize now.

 He took her home but she is being a pain now, bullying the smaller squirrel that fell from his nest about a month ago (see "babies falling from trees") and generally making herself a  nuisance with her intensely high energy. Bernie hopes to release her again as soon as the weather improves. He thinks she'll eventually do fine because she is an aggressive squirrel, once she overcomes her timidity about the outdoors.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Babygirl's next venture: day 2

Bernie went over early on Sunday, as mornings seem to be the best times to find her. Sure enough there she was, back in the tree she has adopted for herself. She refused to come down however. She seemed a little more relaxed than previously,  alternating between curling up into a ball and stretching and grooming herself while looking down at Bernie.

There's a complication: she has chosen to be in a wind tunnel! We didn't notice when it was warmer, but this particular area of the park is very windy, and even though it was not windy elsewhere today, the wind here was so strong that I could hear it over the phone when Bernie called.  She had initially wandered there herself, which is why he brought her back  a couple times. But it will be a bad spot come winter.   He stayed for over 3 hours but could not get Babygirl to come down!

I went by at 4pm and it was still windy. And she was still up there in the same spot. I spent time feeding other squirrels, while checking on her periodically. Every once in a while she'd be grooming herself as if she was relaxing, then curl up into a ball as if to take a nap. I called out to her and threw some nuts at her tree. She seemed to be watching me.

A woman came by and gave me a dirty look. People have been watching us, and once two women came by as Bernie was getting into a cab with Babygirl, and they started yelling at me that they were going to report us for stealing squirrels. When I explained that it was his pet, one of the women called me a liar. Bernie said I should just say that we're taking squirrels because we make good money selling them in Chinatown!

I did some shopping then came back for a final check before going home, and last I saw she was curled up in a ball with her eyes closed. I felt so  bad for her -- so exposed and defenseless! No nest box to sleep in. The other squirrels all seem to magically disappear "into the woodwork", but not Babygirl, who is just out there. Later that evening I heard predictions of rain starting tonight. Oh dear.

Babygirl in her tree

BTW many, many thanks to my generous benefactor who reads this blog regularly and has sent me a brand new Panasonic Lumix!

So we will be having pictures again!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Babygirl's next venture

Babygirl was brought out to the park again on Saturday morning. The rain was over and it was a nice, sunny day, a bit on the cool side. She immediately disappeared not to be seen again. It's going to be an Overnight.