Friday, November 26, 2010

Sno-Globe Daze and Knights

 On the first day of snow, a dear friend presented me with a Sno-Globe of, well surely that is Oscar and one of his lady friends? Not Honey but perhaps Missy or Jackie?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Addendum Seven - To-ing and Fro-ing of Squirrels

M-L writes this update:
The really good news is ..........(suspense).................. guess who is back????  Honey!!!  I had been watching this smallish shy black squirrel for a few days as she ate at the periphery of the squirrel haven. She seemed to feel at home, but was wary of attention from any of the other squirrels.  Today she got brave and came on to the deck to eat. She has no real distinguishing features, unlike the other of our squirrels, but her behaviour is the same as Honey's was inside. She and Missy touched noses, and then Missy ran her off. Missy did like Honey when they were inside, so I think Missy was just establishing who is boss. As Jackie never liked Honey while their cages were abutting, I'm curious to see how she will react to her return. Jackie was up the tree eating a walnut when Honey and Missy met.

Missy runs everyone off, except Jackie, Oscar and I, but there are degrees.  The red squirrel is run off to the fir tree.  The resident black squirrels are chased all around the lawn and trees for a while, then off 'her' property. The grey squirrels are run right out of the yard as quickly as possible and with a more authoritative manner.  Jackie is inconsistent on whether she will run off the other squirrels, I guess depending on how brave she feels on any given day.

Oscar is still not around and I presume off with the lads.  He is a teenage male. I miss him, but as long as he is having a happy squirrel life, I'm content. 
And Honey did come back, at least for a bit, and I had given up any hope of seeing her again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Raining so Worms but no Squirrels

The rain is a warm one but rain, nonetheless, so the squirrels have stayed  in their nesting box.

Meanwhile, Harvey, my year-old orange and white kitten with a blue eye and a gold eye, he loves the rain as it gives him a chance to do what he appears to do perfectly, that is, catch worms.

Perhaps it's a dietary thing, maybe he needs more protein, but if there are worms in the driveway or garden, then Harvey, consummate "wormer" that he is, chases them, catches them and brings them home in his mouth to dump unceremoniously on the kitchen floor.

Well may you say, don't let the wretched beast in with worms dangling from his kitten maw but (said with consternation and a certain amount of defeat) I have a cat door!

I located a fake worm for him today and visually, he's attracted to it but once he smells it, he loses interest. The ersatz rubber worms just don't have the same aroma and taste as the real thing.

Harvey's not the keen on the fake squid, either.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Addendum Six - Oscar Off Being With the Boys

The four black squirrels, Oscar and his harem of Missy, Jackie and Honey, were released two weeks ago. Ottawa's weather has been Indian Summer-like which is a boon to these neophytes who are not used to searching  for food under leaf-cover much less under snow. Food will be provided for them all winter long so no worries there and this good weather has allowed them to adapt slowly, putting on extra fat and fur.

ML had an interesting time with her furry friends today:

Honey is still AWOL. Perhaps off with the squirrel who kept eying her through the window.  I still hope she comes back, but if she is happy elsewhere, that's what counts. The giant grey squirrels haven't been back, but there are still 4-5 regular greys and the same number of black squirrels, not counting "our" squirrels. And that crabby little red squirrel. Lots of birds showing up now the giant greys have gone.

I finally spotted Oscar today. He is being quite the man and not hanging around with home as much.  He would go for a week ignoring me when he was inside, so this isn't unusual for him. I got the camera going and tried to get a pic of him, but he just went off with another black squirrel into the neighbour's yard. Jackie is still shy.  She sits on the fir tree 10 feet in the air on a limb that was cut off and extends only six inches  from the trunk. That or she stares down at me from on high in the maple.  She listens to my voice, but won't come close unless there are seeds to eat, and then she prefers to be at least 4 feet away.

And then there's Missy.....  I guess I am her best friend because my blood must taste good. As soon as she sees me she comes running and leaps onto my jacket and rides around on my chest, back or shoulder as I check out to see what bird/squirrel feeders need filling. I really have to watch she is not under foot or trying to follow me inside these days. The little piglet had me in stitches today as she tried to stuff  two unshelled almonds in her mouth to bury elsewhere.  Jackie loves to eat the almonds after she shells them, but Missy is planting a forest of almond trees.

Oscar at six weeks old was carried in a pouch around my neck. This was part of the Infant Squirrel Stimulation Program that ML and I initiated to bring him up to snuff. Being premature, he was behind in development and needed extra attention to bring him into full squirreldom.

Oscar in Trust

 This A-frame sign was seen outside one of those investment places on Sussex Drive in Ottawa yesterday.
Made me think that perhaps Oscar should set up an education fund...for all his children that will be born in the spring.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Raining in Ottawa

I hope Baby Squirrel Oscar is snug as a bug in a rug this evening with his three lovelies, Missy, Jackie and Honey.

I am thrilled to see that people from Croatia, India, Romania, Tunisia and Bulgaria have taken a look at what Oscar 's up to.

Ah, the wonders of the Internet.

Best wishes, everyone!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gentleman Baby Squirrel Oscar - Addendum Five

M-L mentioned yesterday that she was going to give the squirrels some nuts in the shell to see if  they can navigate their way through. Here's her report:
The in shell almonds were a hit.  Missy got them first and liked them so much, she went up her tree and across the tree highway to another yard to eat it.  Oscar and Jackie just sat on the roof of the nesting box to eat their nuts. Blasted blue jays still take the unshelled nuts, but at least they cannot quickly gulp the almonds as they did the shelled nuts.

I had a visit with Oscar and Missy this afternoon as I filled the various bowls, trays and bird feeders with seeds.  For the first time they just ambled around the deck as I topped up the food, while the resident squirrels raced to hide in the cedar hedge to watch me. I offered Oscar a shelled almond. He came over from the dish of sunflower seeds, rested his front paws on my hand and gently took it from my fingers. Sweet Oscar! 

Missy was offered a cashew (her favourite).  She turned from the sunflower seeds and promptly bit my finger.  On reflex, I lifted my hand up and had a squirrel hanging from my finger! I dropped the cashew, shook her off and was given an annoyed look as her cashew rolled off the deck. I shook a few out of the jar onto the deck and tapped the wood so she could see them. She went over, still giving me the "you stupid human, you lost my cashew" look, and took another. I didn't like the way she was looking at my bare toes, so I went back inside to put on shoes.

When I came out again, all three were munching on almonds they had shelled themselves. I pulled up a chair to watch them, with a jar of Oscar's shelled almonds for me to munch on, and to my surprise, Missy came over, climbed up my jeans and sat on my lap, eyeing the almonds in the jar.  She helped herself to a nut and ran off to bury it in the leaf cover. This was repeated twice. The third time, she got a nut and just hopped onto my shoulder and ate part of the nut. Then she climbed down my back and tried to bury the remaining piece under my sweater!!  Didn't I say she was a very confident assertive squirrel!  But, Oscar should teach her some manners.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Addendum Four--Digging in the Leaves

Amazing how even though squirrels seem to all look alike, M-L can tell who's who in her back yard squirrel paradise.

M-L writes:
The yard was squirrel-free at noon. All the seed and and the water in the dog bowl were gone. (Annie always got barking if she saw a 'squirrel from Mars' - imagine what she'd do if she saw them using her bowl). The bird feeder with the two extra lid catches was open and the seed removed from the top not the tray. I'm sure it was a black squirrel, but I don't think Oscar or his ladies could do it (yet). People refer to squirrels as tree rats. They are really tree pigs!!

It's fun to see how the squirrels are interacting now they have been living outside with the resident squirrels for 6 days now. Oscar is as laid back as usual, getting on with everyone.... unless they are after his almonds. Jackie is a home body.... I've never seen her other than in her tree or the big fir. She is on edge around the others, especially the greys. She'll go after the black squirrels if they don't show her respect. She seems most happy just digging around the fallen leaves under her tree. Missy interacts more with other squirrels, but still loyal to her nest mates. She is a very confident and assertive squirrel.  Honey was AWOL today.  I sound like an adoring relative, but this is how I see things. Same personalities they've always had.

Tomorrow I'm going to see how they do with walnuts or almonds with cracked shells.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oscar and Family, all Doing Well

Squirrel Haven or is it Heaven?

Latest update from ML, November 10/10

Oscar is quite a guy.  I don't think he knows he is on the small side..... maybe that means his testosterone is more concentrated and therefore more bluster.  It seems that way with the  male of our species. The bossy red squirrel later came to eat, chattering at everyone for 1/2 hour from a tree first and then chasing everyone away. Jackie got brave and chased away a regular size grey from the plastic feeding bowls, though she let him feed at another nearby pile of seeds. When he tried to look in her nesting box after she had entered, he got treated to the growls I got when I pissed her off and he had the sense to leave just as she thrust out her angry little face. I've seen Oscar, Jackie and Missy in the nesting box that Oscar checked out when released, but I don't know for sure if Honey sleeps there or elsewhere.

Oscar Defends His Territory - Addendum Three

M-L writes on November 10, 2010

Another update so we can all relax. When the squirrels were inside, I came down the stairs with a loud 'good morning squirrels' no matter what time of day. I've kept this up when I go outside to feed them.  Another familiar thing to make them feel reassured, but likely not reassuring to the neighbours (tee hee). 

This morning there were the 2 giant greys, 3 regular greys and 6 various black squirrels--word is spreading this is a great place to eat apparently.  As I gave my morning greeting, all scattered.  After making a sumptuous spread of sunflower seeds, I was watching the birds then I just about leaped out of my skin when a squirrel came out of no where and landed a foot away from me.  Oscar! 
Slowly 3 smallish black squirrels came to eat from the trays and get a drink from the dog bowl. Missy, Jackie and Honey!! We celebrated with almonds. Gradually, the other squirrels came back to the buffet (I'm putting out lots to minimize the fighting). One of the giant greys tried to come over and get an almond, not knowing this was a private party, but Oscar chased him away. Did it ever look funny to see little Oscar chasing a squirrel the size of a baby ground hog.

Oscar, big, brave squirrel.

Addendum Two - A Yard Full of Squirrels

M-L writes on November 9, 2010

I checked out the back yard this am and the place was full of squirrels!! Oscar was eating under a bird feeder that had a big black squirrel hanging upside down on it fishing out seeds and spilling lots.  Jackie was digging in the leaf cover near the cages and eating who knows what, but appeared happy.  Missy was sitting on the railing 3 feet away from a giant grey squirrel and pigging out on seeds.  There were 2 other grey squirrels and other black squirrels and I'm hoping Honey was one of them. The cages have been moved into the house again and hopefully will be uninhabited until spring.  Updates as exciting events happen.

Addendum to Release Day, Nov. 7/10

Something of which you may not be aware but there were two of us shepherding Oscar, Jackie, Missy and Honey over the months. ML and I shared custody of the young rodents and it is to her back yard that they were released on November 7.

I know you are going to be fascinated in ML's account of what how the squirrels are adapting and what they are up to. 

In her words: 

Wasn't it lovely to see the squirrels, lead by the intrepid Oscar take off to live their lives!  At 4 pm yesterday afternoon, Missy was still hiding in the tree at the front.  It took a bit of talking but she stuck up her head so I could tell her the new digs were at the back. Jackie was way up the top of their tree as she was when you left. Oscar was in Honey's nesting box doing who knows what, but did come out to get an almond and then boot it up the tree to go in one of the new nesting boxes.

At noon today, there was a wee squirrel who looked like Jackie up at the top of the fir tree in the back yard. No sign of the young man, likely exploring.  I watched for a while from the inside and saw 3 big greys come over to eat the seeds left out for our squirrels.  The 2 medium sized black squirrels ate off the feeders only. 
 After a while, a smaller black squirrel came across the lawn and perched on the door to Oscar's cage.  It looked like Missy, and listened intently to my voice as I spoke to her through the opened patio door. No sign of Honey.  Hopefully she will reappear, but she was such frightened little girl from square one, so I don't know what will become of her.

I don't expect to see much of them with the weather so good and so much world to explore. 
Oscar enjoying sunflower seeds left out for him and his friends.

How Oscar has Grown!

This photo was taken five days after he arrived, gently carried home by my cat. I thought it was a June Bug in his mouth, at first, but since it was squealing, I quickly disbelieved myself.

What a fortuitous evening that was!

Anyone involved with the raising of this squirrel, we all agree, it was The Summer of Oscar.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Baby Squirrel Oscar

Haven't heard one way or the other if the young squirrels are safe and sound but expect so. Their cages are being left in place at the bottom of the tree for a couple of days in case they feel the need to check back and to provide them with a touchstone should they forget that the tree and nesting boxes up top are now their home.

What a grand experience it's been raising Baby Squirrel Oscar!

Come spring, there will be an entire population of baby Oscars and Oscarettes as Oscar is quite the man-squirrel and he does, after all, have three charming girl friends, Missy, Jackie and Honey.

There will be updates as they happen.

Thank-you, everyone, for being part of this past summer's amazing events. Who knew that an embryonic rodent brought home by a cat, something that looked like a new-born chihuahua, would flourish and provide endless delight in so many people's lives.

The Big Day Arrived Today

Cages, doors open, leaning up against the tree.
The weather in Ottawa was superb for squirrel-release today. Sun shining, no precipitation and none called for the next few days.
The two cages were carefully brought outside and propped up against the tree in which two nesting boxes had been secured.

The idea was for the squirrels to exit and run up the tree to discover the familiar boxes, into which dried leaves had been stuffed, and to realize that this was their tree, their new home.

Nesting boxes well-placed in a mature tree.

Oscar was first out.

He headed right up the tree, circling it as he did.
Looking into their nesting box in the cage, it was packed with the stuffing from a plush toy they'd ripped apart.

Oscar on the left and Jackie headed up the tree together.
Oscar perched on the roof of his new home.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Release Date Moved Up

With the good weather and the fact that the squirrels are more ready than what we thought a week ago, we will be releasing the four of them Sunday morning.

They have been acclimatized by reducing the temperature in their room by allowing in as much fresh air as possible. Several nesting boxes have been secured in a tree that overlooks the kitchen window so that we can be aware of what is going on with the menagerie at all times

They are healthy, muscular and capable young squirrels at present and ready for the adventure of release.