Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thank you to Ann!

For her contribution to the Feed the Squirrels Project. Ann is a reader of this blog and also a feeder of the squirrels. In addition to that she has made a generous donation to this project.

I now have renewed incentive to take the long walk over to Trader Joe's to stock up on some fancy nuts. TJ's has a wide variety of fresh nuts, at decent prices. Maybe stop at the Garden of Eden while I'm over there, and pick up some of those big fat avocados. Yes the squirrels are in for some treats!

And how can they say proper thank you's to Ann? Certainly not in Chinese with a German accent - but maybe in Squirrelese with a New Yawk accent (a cluck, a squeek, a growl, a whistle!)

 afternoon snack

Monday, February 27, 2012

It's cherry blossom time!

Only one problem: it's not supposed to be cherry blossom time. The cherry trees have started to bloom at PCV a month early this year.

Last year the cherry trees were blooming on March 27:

This year they've started to bloom on February 27:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

hair yesterday, gone today

The mysterious malady that afflicts squirrels in the winter has arrived, in spite of all the mild weather.  While walking around PCV and Stuy Town I've been finding squirrels in various stages of deshabille, as they lose parts of their glorious fur coats.


One of Spunky's kids

A Stuy Town squirrel

A young gray
It seems to mostly affect the young squirrels, although Spunky has been rather hard hit. Some think it could be mange, while others say that hair loss in squirrels (especially winter-related hair loss) can have various causes that are difficult to determine. Usually the squirrels recover nicely, especially if they get good nutrition.

I found some old pictures of the first squirrel I tried to help, back in February of 2008-- this time 5 winters ago. We called him Pockets, because after his fur started to grow in, there were still two small bald patches on either side that looked like pockets.

He already has some hair here, but when I first saw him he was almost entirely nude and could have died from exposure. And it was cold that winter! But with plenty of TLC, Pockets grew into a very pretty little squirrel. Here he is 3 months later:
first cherry

What I remember best is how Pockets overcame his natural fear as a baby squirrel, and would approach me, staying out in the cold for long periods of time (often after the other squirrels had left), to get extra nuts. Even as a small baby, he seemed to know exactly what was needed to survive. And survive he did!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Red heads for Alphie?

I'd lost sight of Red for several days, but others said they had seen her, so I wasn't  that worried. Then yesterday I found her in a tree just south of the fountain.  She had traveled all that distance from her area over by the main entrance to PCV.  Alphie lives just north of the fountain, and it looked like Red was making her way towards him, perhaps propelled by a force stronger than what her little peanut brain could understand. In another day she could reach the bushes by the orange tree, and find her destiny!
The Fountain
In the center is the fountain. On the right there's a nest, way out on the branch of the tree where I'd found Red. On the left is the area that includes the "orange tree" and the hedges, which is where Alphie, several of the black babies and many other squirrels live.

On my valentine blog http://thenewyorksquirrel.blogspot.com/2012/02/squirrels-valentine.html
I'd expressed the wish that Red and Alphie would meet and mate. I was curious if it would be love at first sight. Do squirrels get attracted by anything beyond smells? Someone suggested that Red would most likely  mate with some of the gray squirrels that lived in her tree and I had a bleak vision of a fate devoid of romance and adventure for this little beauty. But now Red seemed to be moving in the right direction, so  I excitedly began to think of ways to  lure her over to Alphie's area. No need for a plot-- she was already by the fountain today:

Seeing Red
She quickly followed me over to the hedges where Alphie hangs out, no doubt propelled by a burning desire for snacks.

Milady has arrived

And she eats well.

But -- now there's no sign of Alphie! He's usually the first one to come running over. Where was he today? 

Master Alphie has arrived.
To my relief, Alphie at last makes his appearance. But now Red is gone! Would ever the twain meet? I was wondering if it was a case of shyness?  Or coyness? Or a mundane case of fullness? I'd probably fed her too many nuts already. I hoped she'd come back as they sometimes do when they're feeding. But she didn't. I realized then that I would not be seeing the two of them together today.

Then a terrible dread came over me. I grabbed my camera and went through the pictures that I had just taken.  Sure enough, there was no kink in Red's tail. Red has a distinct spot on her tail that looks like this:
Kinky squirrel tail
I had been so excited when I saw the beautiful red squirrel by the fountain that I had failed to notice the missing kink. A little squirrel moves so fast that it can be difficult to notice such details. But sure enough, the still pictures showed without a doubt that this squirrel's tail was perfectly intact. See for yourself:

My perfect tail!
That meant that this could not be Red.  Seems to be Red's body double.

And thereby hangs the tale of a tail.

No animals in this story were harmed.  Once I realized that the squirrel in question was not Red, I rushed over to her regular area to search for her. And there she was, glad to see me and doing just fine:

The Real Red

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why squirrels are power pets

Benie Goetz takes a walk with his pet squirrel, Creme Puff
Here's why squirrels make perfect pets-- what I call "power pets". Imagine sticking your cat under your coat, then taking a walk across town on a busy street in New York City! Not gonna happen, right? Then walking around in a park for a couple of  hours, while your cat sits patiently on your shoulder as  you feed the squirrels. Pretty funny, right? And forget about trying this with your dog!

But an outing with your squirrel requires no leash or cat carrier. Imagine having a pet that is so bonded to you (and so intelligent) that it feels comfortable riding on your shoulder for hours, trusting you completely to do the right thing. Creme Puff  stays put without a peep (except for a little growl and squeak when Bernie inadvertently pokes him in the eye when passing a snack back). Creme Puff announces in no uncertain terms that this is uncool. Creme Puff rules!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


So far we've been lucky with a mild winter. Often there are harsh storms in February, around Valentine's Day, but so far we've had unusually mild weather. The squirrels are for the most part doing fine, unlike last year when we had many frostbitten and frozen squirrels.

We've had that one snowfall and since then really no snow to speak of. Now and then we'll find a thirsty squirrel due to the paucity of precipitation.

In warmer months squirrels can get enough water from chewing on bark, buds and plants. But in winter it's more of a challenge. So we bring them things like avocado, grapes and cherries.

Red eats a cherry
Winter pruning has removed many hiding places for squirrels.
Beware of hawks!

Pretty Boy Alphie is handling winter very well so far...

Life is good...
I'm a fat boy now

fat and cuddly

The babies we worried about at the onset of winter are all doing well so far.

Winter Moon

A winter evening on Waterside Plaza 
overlooking the East River
the Citibank building shines in the sunset

winter lights

Howlin' Squirrel
A short walk brings us over to Peter Cooper Village, where most squirrels are in bed for the night. But we do find a few!

squirrel silhouette

squirrel baying at the moon

the moon on high

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Peregrine Falcon attacks Snowy Owl

Egad, we've gone bird-crazy again!

We've known that peregrine falcons will often attack red tailed hawks. We've seen pictures of  the attacks on Bobby, Violet and Rosie the hawks in Washington Square Park. Why do they do it? It seems to be for the sport of it. I don't think it's always a matter of protecting turf, as the story below discusses, because they'll often go after the hawks when they're in their own nests.

Below is a link to the full story with more incredible pictures of the falcon and owl, and the final outcome. Who wins? Click to find out. :)


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Son of Spunky

Actually not 100% sure yet if this is the daughter or son of Spunky. One thing's for sure: it's definitely one of Spunky's babies. It lives in the same tree, and check out this action:

I'm here!

Gimme gimme gimme!

A Squirrel's Valentine


This is the story of two little squirrels who were born last summer. The boy squirrel is named Alpha Squirrel, Alphie for short. Right from the start he had all the markings of an alpha squirrel --  inquisitive, fearless and adventurous . He was born just northeast of the Fountain, in the Orange Tree. He loved playing with me right from the start. 

And just a short distance away (maybe a one-minute walk), southwest of the Fountain,  in what we used to call Brownie's Tree, the adorable little girl squirrel named Red was also born last summer. In fact Brownie may have been her mother. Red has always been a bundle of energy.

I have watched both of them develop through the autumn, putting on their heavy fur coats for winter, which hid how small they were. I know there are still little squirrels underneath all that fur. They are both so bright and joyous, full of energy and love of life. They are so close and yet so far away from each other,  neither knowing of the other's existence. I would love to bring the two of them together. Maybe for Valentines Day! Mating them would be my dream.

Red lives in a big tree with a bunch of gray squirels. Perhaps it's her destiny to mate with one (or more) of them. Will she never get to meet the Alpha Squirrel?  Or will she have a great adventure? A romance? I think it could be... 


love at first sight!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fat Bottomed Squirrels

A new kind of fat
We've been seeing the heavy fur coats of winter for a while now. Suddenly we're seeing a different kind of fat  -- the results of mating season!

I'm roly poly!

And I have a fat bottom too :)

Looking forward to the next crop of babies!