Friday, December 31, 2010

We Never Tire of Baby Pictures

M-L writes on New Year's eve day: 

I just spent about an hour taking pictures of Missy and Jackie and tried to get a closeup of Jackie's beau.  It is frustrating to take pictures of squirrels who don't stay still long enough to get a shot.  I have lots of pics of empty spaces where a squirrel was a second ago or pics of the tail end of a squirrel moving out of the frame. 

At first the big fir tree appeared empty, then I saw a leaf drop to the ground.  Look up and there is the red squirrel on a branch tossing off dried leaves. Weird, but perhaps making a point that fir trees are for red squirrels to hibernate in and the grey and blacks one shouldn't get any ideas about nesting in her tree, even this late in the season. After standing for a while longer under the fir, some branches started waving-- here comes Missy on the run.  A few seconds later, there is a whirlwind in the fir tree. Jackie and her beau are chasing each other through the branches, then run into the ancient overgrown cedar hedge and on to another yard. Same as human teens on a warm day, just a different species.

After a visit and something to eat, Missy climbed her tree and took off over the branches and onto the roof and disappeared. Jackie sat on her nesting box and looked for her lad. He was running across the back of the yard on a power line, through another hedge and away. Lots of mumbling from Jackie when she saw this and she sat grinding her teeth for a while.  Men!

Which brings me to the best man in the world. Oscar.  I hate New Years Eve. It makes me think of all the things I did wrong over the last year, which reminds me of all the things I have ever done wrong in my life, and in 10 minutes I am despondent. But this was the year of Baby Squirrel Oscar.
Setting alarms for feeds, warming up puppy milk replacement to be fed through a syringe, washing a hairless then furry little body after a feed as all babies make a mess when they eat and stimulating a little squirrel bottom to pee and poop before back under the fuzzy blankets and heat lamp to sleep.

With two weeks to show the squirrel expert he was viable, he completed the Infant Squirrel Stimulation program devised by his foster mom with flying colours.


Next he went on to Squirrel Boot Camp run by his foster aunt to build muscle through lots of new exercises and new solid food.  Then off to squirrel school for a few weeks where he met Missy and Jackie.

Finally, all three to the inner sanctuary for socialization with Honey and the fun of fresh leaves for nest building, climbing on branches and enjoying twice daily freshly chopped apple, banana, sweet potato, avocado, red grapes, green beans, snap peas, snow peas, spinach and broccoli followed by sunflower seeds topped with almond, walnut and cashew pieces as a treat.

Best day was release day. The yard they looked at through the large window was finally their home.

So thank-you Oscar for being you and enriching my life.
Amen to that, M-L. Oscar enriched so many lives.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Squirrel Chit-Chat

On the day after Christmas, M-L writes a bright, cheery message from the squirrel sanctuary:
The two nut trays overflowed for a special feast yesterday, but Missy, she who rules the world, didn't feel I was quick enough.  She was tearing across the railing and aiming to land on my back as I filled the five sunflower seed trays on the deck, the three sunflower bird feeders (remember, I got the ones that people at the store complained were really easy for squirrels to raid), the niger seed feeder and the two suet trays. Bad human for not filling the nut trays first.  I made amends by handing her one large cashew to settle her and another one just because.  I think she's really got the knack of taking things from my fingers now as she is more gentle and not as rushed when she does it. Perhaps she thinks she's finally got me trained. 

I'm not sure if Missy is still living in the nesting box now that the grey squirrel has moved in with Jackie. Perhaps she is in the neighbouring box, or perhaps she is off with Honey. She can't be too far away as she is in the yard when I fill the dishes, or at least comes running from a few yards away when she hears my voice. Maybe they have a place with Oscar. 

I know the squirrels won't reach sexual maturity until eleven months of age--about May 2011,  gestation is 44 days, and they stay inside with their mom until 10 weeks or there about. If Jackie doesn't slow down, she will be a teenage mom! Then again, squirrels will overwinter with anyone for body warmth-- remember camping trips with inadequate sleeping bags.

Mr. Grey Squirrel Has Made His Move

And he's moved in! Here's what M-L wrote yesterday:
And guess what I saw early this morning as the sun was just rising? A grey squirrel sticking his head out of the nesting box. He looked casually around, yawned, and  backed inside again. Oscar would be appalled.
Grey Squirrel as seen at Wikipedia.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jackie Finds True Love

M-L writes:
Just saw the blog re no female squirrels refusing sex.  Explains why I have seen a grey squirrel coming out of the the nesting box followed after by Jackie.  Three times!!!! Martha Stewart has turned into Jackie Collins!! She won't even meet my eye and her young male friend boots it when he hears the "old auntie" yell a greeting. 
Missy is nowhere to be found while Jackie is fooling around with the grey squirrel. Missy is still quite protective of her territory when he isn't there. I wonder what Jackie says to her to get her to leave---can't give her money and say go to a movie for a few hours. Not that I'd try to tell that Missy anything.  I thought she would have the first boyfriend as she was hanging around with the other squirrels form the beginning.  Just goes to show that you really have to watch the quiet ones.

Jackie waits for Mr. Grey Squirrel.
Honey has been back a few times- easy to spot now as she is a bit smaller than the other black squirrels and isn't chased away by Missy on one of her clean sweeps of any unwelcome squirrels (in her eyes) from the feeding area. 
The mystery still remains.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sex and the Single Squirrel

News flash! This just in from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, female squirrels never turn down sex.

A research team from the University of Guelph has published a study in the journal, Biology Letters, that indicates that genetics have little impact on squirrels' mating habits.

Read more:

Of course, this pertains to female squirrels and Oscar and his strong, silent gender are not included.

However, what was M-L's observation that Missy was looking "bulked-up" which may or may not be a result of her seasonal fur coat? Missy's name may become Mrs.come spring.

Or perhaps it's all the food she's been eating.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Squirrel Fur Galore

M-L writes today about the winter coats the squirrels are sporting:
The furry rodents are wonderful. 
The grey squirrels are still scattering with I announce a "good morning", but they aren't so frantic.  Just getting used to me, I guess.  The rainy day this week, every one ran but little Jackie.  She stayed on the trunk of her tree on a branch, tail over her head, with the rain plodding down. She looked miserable, and accepted cashews put in the nut treat tray.  Bad foster human.......I had none of her favourite walnuts ready. 
One of the little dickens frolicking on the rail.
Blue Jay at the nut tray.
Today was sunny, cool and breezy, and a very fluffy black squirrel came to see me when the others ran on hearing my voice. Missy really has bulked up in fur and I expect weight as well. She just wanted a cashew treat and to go eat it on a tree limb. No jumping on my back to ride around with me while I fill up the feeders and seed trays today. And she is still sweetly taking the nut from my fingers with her mouth as her wee  hands rest on mine. But, twice bitten, always careful when I offer her a treat.
There's a big mystery in squirrel sanctuary.  You have to see the photo to appreciate it.  As soon as I get the pic, the fun of solving the mystery will begin!!

Photographed through a window to give a soft focus.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Additional Photos of Jackie and Missy

Still life with Squirrel eating.
 I hope the squirrels are used to the snow. Ottawa is expecting storm this weekend which might bring many inches of snow along with ice pellets.

This is why we are known as "the true North, strong and free."

Jackie on a branch beside the nesting boxes.

These photos and those of yesterday were taken by M-L.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oscar's Girls Frolic at the Sanctuary

Dateline: December 10/10, snow on the ground and Missy and Jackie dine on exotic nuts. Photos taken by M-L over several days.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brief 2nd Week December Addendum

M-L writes briefly about her experience with one of Oscar's girls:

Missy sweetly took a cashew from my fingers as she rested her little hands on my hand. No bite!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Update on Oscar and His Girls

M-L writes a day or two ago: 
Squirrel update has Oscar still being AWOL.  No doubt he has charmed himself into the hearts of a bevy of lovely female squirrels in another tree. We did want him to be wild and free--- the lad is being both to the max. Still haven't given up on seeing him again.

Missy remains very friendly, running to me and jumping onto my chest, then scurrying down my arms to see if I have any treats in my hands.  She objects to me filling all the feeders/dishes with sunflower seeds before she is given a treat.  I swear she knows the word "treat" when I say it. 
The look on her face was so funny earlier in the week with the first snow that stayed for a bit.  She came running towards me,covered with flakes of snow then jumped on the barbecue and with wide eyes glared at me as if I was responsible for the change in weather.  

Jackie tolerates me and devotes her time to amassing the winter supplies under the carpet of leaves around her tree. She shooed away a big gray squirrel who was taking too big an interest in her walnut halves. Actually ran him up the tree trunk and around it a few times, all while holding a massive half walnut shell in her mouth. Honey comes to eat a few seeds from the dishes, then runs away, to return a minute or two later. Shy wee thing still.

I just ran into my neighbour who asked if I found the gray squirrels to be extra friendly this year.  I told him they were no doubt expecting that a bit of encouragement on their part would motivate him to set up a high class resort in his yard like the one I have established in mine. No fast food allowed. All species welcome.
Photo taken of Oscar in late-August.