Bold as a cougar, and almost as mean, this little guy has been frequenting my bird feeder since his Mama Squirrel first brought him to the windowsill as a tiny ball of fluff.
I’ve watched him grow from a frightened baby on his first excursion from the nest, to a clumsy teenager, to an active adult, and now I am watching him grow old. Dubbed “Shorty” because he lost a substantial portion of his once long tail, presumably in one of his many brawls, this battle-scarred, old squirrel rules the feeder now that his mama is gone. The other squirrels stay away until Shorty is finished eating if they know what is good for them. Even the quickest of birds keep their distance rather than dart in behind him, as is their habit with the other squirrels. My old cats sleep on the windowsill. Shorty doesn’t care. The young cat lunges forward in attack and slams her face against the glass (I never said she was smart.) Shorty doesn’t even drop his sunflower seed, and this photographer can call his name, knock on the window, and stamp on the floor, and Shorty will not turn around! This shot probably would have ended up framed and on my wall had I actually managed to get something other than a squirrel’s butt nestled in between my cats. Maybe next time.
Some of my fondest memories of childhood were the walks outside with my mom. Whether we were on a forest trail or merely strolling through the backyard, she seemed to transform the world around us into a place of interest and great beauty. Her observant eyes could follow a bird song to its source or find a deer or groundhog in a distant field. She knew the wildflowers and the trees by name. She could (and still can) recognize the scent of rain on the breeze. She drew our attention to caterpillers, animal tracks, butterflies and colorful leaves. Most of all, she taught us to respect nature and be patient, for respect and patience often offer some surprising rewards.
My reward has been a considerable increase in the number of visiting squirrels. Since the feeder by the dining room window is still in pieces. (thanks to the bear) I started feeding the squirrels and birds on the front porch. The porch roof and the heavy trees provide protection from the ever vigilant eyes of the local goshawk. Now that the weather is warmer, I eat my lunch outside, and I’m usually joined by at least one of my squirrels, a variety of song birds, and a beat up old chipmunk that we call Scar Face. As long as I keep my movements slow, they are content to eat a few feet away from me, but there is one that seems almost without fear. “Mama” my original squirrel. She is the queen. If she scampers onto the porch, the others leave, if they know what’s good for them.
Since there is no longer any glass between us, I had refrained from taking photos, but one day this week, I decided to take a chance to see if Mama would let me get near enough to take a few close ups. She not only stayed with me for almost an hour, but she actually stopped eating for long enough to pose several times. I had so much fun (for free) that I decided to share our photo shoot with you. Enjoy!