Monday, August 13, 2018

Orange And the New Black

Last week the beautiful Orange Queen returned.

This week I'm overjoyed to have Black back!

That is, a somewhat modified Black -- a new Black if you will.  That characteristic "V" on her back, by which I knew her, has disappeared.  But just as squirrel tails are always changing colors, their fur can change too. Squirrel "looks" go in and out of fashion, being as changeable as the weather and the seasons.

But there's so much that's the same -- her familiarity with me for one thing, and the way she races over when I enter the park, and then follows me around until I leave, and the way she gets so excited that she practically dances around me. That's how I know her.

Do you really have to go now?

Her boundless energy, her intense personality, her antics -- all these characteristics are still there in the new Black.

Black Being Black

I smell peanuts.

Casing the joint.

In goes the squirrel...

Out come the goods...

All that hard work... for peanuts!

So they've come back, but where have they been? Squirrels don't hibernate in winter, but I'm wondering if they've been going into some sort of semi-hibernation state during the hot days of summer? Maybe those "summer vacations" will become one of the ways that squirrels adapt to climate change. I actually think they deal with the cold better than with the hot weather. They put on those heavy winter coats and the little ear muffs and mittens when the cold arrives, but they have no similar defenses against the heat, and are stuck in their fur coats, which, while not as heavy as their winter coats, still have to feel pretty hot.

Friday, August 3, 2018

She's back!!!

I'm back...

The beautiful Orange Queen has returned!

After being gone for over a week, she sauntered over as if just back from summer vacation. But where had she been? And why was she gone for so long? Oh, the never-ending mystery of squirrels! She seems a bit worse for the wear, maybe a little disoriented. Like, how did I get back in THIS world?

I've had several people tell me that the squirrels in Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town seem confused and disoriented. I'm wondering if it could be due to the heat and possibly dehydration.  While most birds and carnivorous animals get their water from food, vegan squirrels don't get it from peanuts, so I've been giving them grapes and small chunks of fresh coconut, which they seem to like.

Coconut treat

Coconut - ice cream for squirrels?

summer flowers


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

And then there were none?

It seems like squirrels have been disappearing. Just looking back at my  mid-July post, when there were so many around, it's now an empty landscape by comparison. I can't figure out what's going on. They made it through the harsh winter (with my help, I like to think), and now that it's finally nice weather, there are not many around to enjoy it.
The Other Mother

This is the "other mother" who has now also disappeared in addition to the orange mother. She's the other squirrel that I'd grown fond of over the winter. She was pregnant or nursing at the time, and would go crazy if she missed me for a day and missed a meal. She was a little terror. She'd tear holes in my bags until I taught her not to.  And she'd be constantly grabbing nuts and burying them for later. She was very intelligent, and also very aggressive, but she paid attention and learned, and we bonded. I'm always especially aware of the needs of mothers and the mother squirrels seem to respond to that with appreciation.

But now she hasn't shown up for a couple of days, and I'm saddened by the thought that something has happened to her. First I lost the orange queen and now the black queen?

There have been rumors of squirrels being poisoned. At first I rejected the idea because all "my" squirrels were doing well. But I was told that someone had actually brought a few dead squirrels to a vet and had them autopsied, and that poison was found. 
I tend not to think management would have anything to do with disappearing squirrels, and I've spoken to a few residents who agree, saying that they are quite transparent about what goes on around there. That's good to know. But it's scary to think that there might actually be residents who would poison the little creatures. There are quite a few people around here who dislike the squirrels, and do not like to see anyone feeding them. But would they go so far as to hurt squirrels? I find that hard to believe. And yet, in the space of two weeks it seems that I've lost two of my main squirrels!  A lot of the other squirrels seem to have gone missing as well.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Gone Squirrel

I can't believe she's gone! She just wasn't there one day. Or the next day, or the next. I was about to celebrate her here on the blog as the Queen of the Oranges. This is the latest picture of her, where her tail was already changing from its silvery beauty into a more orangey color. But the last time I saw her (which I didn't have a chance to capture as I didn't have my camera), it was a truly bright orange -- proof positive that she was the progenitor of the resurgence of orange-tailed squirrels we've been blessed with this year.

Yes, this is the mother of all orange squirrels, I'm pretty sure of it. And now she's gone!
What could have happened to her? Well I've been extremely depressed by the thought that I may have killed her. The last time I saw her I threw a peanut at her and it hit her on the head. Right after that she disappeared up a tree. How hard could I have hit her? Well hard enough for me to be concerned enough to go looking for her the next day. And I did not find her.

Ever since I've known this squirrel, she's been sitting out there like a little lawn decoration, awaiting my arrival (I liked to think). So not seeing her there was a bad sign.

A friend told me that there was little chance that I had hurt her, as a peanut is very light. It's not like being hit with a rock! And I'm imagining that squirrels through the ages have probably been hit by nuts falling from trees. So my friend is probably right. But is it just a coincidence that she disappeared right after that? 

Normally I remain detached from the ups and downs of squirrels. I'm just there to feed them, mainly during the hard days of winter when there's no other food to be found. But I have to admit that this one was different. I had become attached to her and actually became very depressed when she didn't show up, especially when I might have had something to do with it. :(

I'm still hoping that one of these days I'll go out to the park and she'll be there, waiting for me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Southern Squirrel

Today's squirrel is a Southern cousin -- this darling mama Fox squirrel from South Carolina.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spring Before the Storm

It was a gorgeous blue-sky day today with a hint of spring in the air.

The Japanese Cherry trees are getting ready to bloom.

Japanese Cherry Trees

I'm happy to report that all my squirrels survived the winter and are doing well. They were enjoying the nice weather today, clueless about the storm that's about to descend on them tomorrow.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Squirrel Appreciation Day

Squirrel Appreciation Day is a holiday which is celebrated on January 21st every year to celebrate and honor squirrels and the contribution they make to the environment. On this day, people are encouraged to head out into the woods or at least, to their local park to look for their favorite types of squirrels and to leave nuts and seeds ...
A peanut will do...

Saturday, January 20, 2018


50 degrees and sunny! It sure feels good! I expected to see all the squirrels out prancing around the green in the fine weather! Instead, there was barely a squirrel in sight. So what's the story? Since it's not so cold they don't need as much food to produce heat? Beaten down and just wanting a long winter's nap? Poor little things.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Tomorrow Will Be Better

Two very cold days with temperatures in the low 20s are coming to an end. Tomorrow the temperatures will rise to decent numbers. I know this, but they don't. For all they know, they could be in for another horrifying two weeks like the ones they just went through. Can they even remember that? Or can they project into the future? I don't know, maybe they only live day-to-day, but I think they must have some kind of memory. At any rate, they are in for a nice surprise tomorrow when things warm  up.

I've been amazed at their capacity to sustain cold temperatures, They must have some "magic potion". It turns out that their cousins the ground squirrels, and some other rodents that hibernate, do have some "magical" ability to adjust their body temperatures to the cold. It's a specialized protein called TRPM8 that helps them resist the cold. Now I know our tree squirrels don't have that, but they must have something similar going on that helps them get through this crazy cold weather.  As for me, I do my part by supplying the food. Food = energy = heat.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dirty Old Town

At first fall it's lovely...

But it soon starts to look like this...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Last but not least

Fat Boy made his appearance today!

Not the least of them...

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Bomb Cyclone

Emergency Alert
How to prepare now:
Stay indoors during the storm. Prolonged exposure to cold can cause hypothermia.

But what about the squirrels?