Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Squirrels of Columbia

Last weekend we had the opportunity to visit Marc Rosenthal's squirrels at Columbia University. It was a minor miracle that everyone managed to arrive safe and sane at Bitty's Kingdom (or rather Queendom) after heroic Battles with the Monster that lurked beneath the streets of the Upper West Side -- the disrupted Saturday Subway System.

Two Squirlers Meet

Bernie and Marc

We were interested in meeting some of Marc's squirrels, and learning more about his methods of communication with them. We had seen from pictures and videos that Marc had a special way with squirrels and hoped to get some pointers.

Meeting Bitty
We were pleased to make the acquaintance of Bitty, who lives by the Entrance Gate to Columbia's Morningside campus. Her babies were not around as they were taking their after-lunch nap.

Now Bitty was hungry and ready for her lunch. A young passerby was happy to help out.

Learning the ropes

It was a matter of getting the squirrels to do certain things like climb onto your arm or sit on your shoulder, in  response to certain commands and through your body language.  Underlying that of course was an understanding of the psychology of squirrels.

Marc demonstrates how to do it.

Bernie does it (no surprise there).

Meeting Bella
Hello, World!

Bella's babies live up there on the ledge.

Bella and Sasha:
A sometimes peaceful co-existence

Bella likes Bernie

Young Male Juvie

 Getting to know you
 Getting to know all about you. 
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.

Putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea!


This is Tawny in her tree.

She fits right in as you can (almost) see.
And guards her castle jealously.

Bitty's Babies
Back at the Entrance Gates, we find that Bitty has permitted her babies to come down from their nest. We find them on either side of the gates, as Bitty runs from side to side, watching over her charges...
There they are in the bike racks!
Bikes don't have quite the camouflage capacity of a tree...
But they do provide a certain sense of safety...
And not to fear, Mama's  near. As is Marc, with some nice munchies.

The babies actually come close enough to eat out of our hands, something they learned to do only a week ago!

But then the Squirrels of Columbia are studious and smart (as well as being adorable).

Grand Tour 
As a side trip, Marc gives us a tour of the Columbia campus.

Fiat justitia ruat caelum

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meeting Marc

I first met Marc Rosenthal at the Baby Squirrel Workshop at Vinegar Hill.

Marc, aka the Columbia Squirrel Whisperer,  does some pretty amazing things with the squirrels on Columbia University's Morningside campus. He claims it's not him, but gives all the credit to the squirrels. Well okay, they do have to be super smart to be Columbia University squirrels. And they're definitely exceptional, as they jump up and sit on Marc's arm or shoulder, responding to his spoken commands. You can watch them on his Youtube channel here:

It was fun introducing Marc to the squirrels of Peter Cooper Village. We learned a lot on a walk and talk through PCV, as Marc is very knowledgeable  and had all sorts of tips about squirrels to share. Marc's comment: we sure have a lot of squirrels at PCV! And he got to meet a fair number of them, including quite a few of our favorites.

 The Welcoming Committee


Foxy's Proxy


Baby Blacky

Baby Black Patch

Two grays tussling in the treetops
Take the pause that refreshes: 
A snack break.



The refreshments were great, and a good time was had by all!