Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rastus, the Almonte Chipmonk

 Back this summer, Rastus, the common chipmunk. And he/she has a girl/boy friend!

Such astounding markings on this tiny rodent.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chipmunk Eating Sun Flower Seeds

The chipmunk makes a stealthy approach.
This is Rastus, the voracious chipmunk who lived beneath the wooden deck at my father's in Almonte, Ontario.

Recently, for good or not, we gave Rastus a small piece of chocolate. He was over-the-moon with delight. Their taste-buds must have a sweetness detector. And squirrels must, too, for when I put out some crumbs of stale brownies, my backyard dwelling rodents went wild.

Maybe these little beasts have more in common with us than what we like to think.
Here he is stuffing the pouches in the side of his mouth with seeds.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Easter Squirrel was out Today

I saw one of Oscar's relatives on the roof today. Of course, he didn't stick around long, not with Harvey Wallbanger at the ready. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Brief Note from the Squirrel Sanctuary

M-L writes:

Missy is up and about and demanding her cashews again.  Oscar and Honey are AWOL. Jackie hasn't shown her face in months, but the other day a slim maple tree branch was sticking out of the entrance to the nesting box she uses, with the end covered with buds pointing into the box.

I bet the babies are enjoying the bark and new buds just like their mom did last summer/fall.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April Showers

Rain for the past several days mean that the squirrels have been tucked into their nests, snug as bugs in a rug.
Updates and photos to come when the sun shines.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Cunning Little Feet

And what a feat, that those cunning little feet can hand on to a vertical wall.

Amazing little mammals!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chipmunk and Cardinal

 What a beautiful coat! Amazing markings! Such a little manikin. And the Cardinal, can you believe that something as red and robust as this exists in nature?

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Photos of Squirrels from M-L

 Fine wildlife, all. With Spring here, squirrels and chipmunks, cardinals, blue jays and a host of other birds and whatnots are filling the squirrel sanctuary at M-L's.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Chipmunk in Sanctuary

A beautiful early spring day meant that M-L was about to enjoy the squirrels in their own habitate: 
A chipmunk has joined the sanctuary creatures.  I got some pics of the little one with a normal face and then stuffed with seeds in the cheek pouches prior to running off, only to return and repeat the procedure over again for more than 6 visits to the smorgasbord. 

I had a very pleasant surprise today as I put out the seeds and nuts. Missy came ambling up to me and wanted to be handed a cashew.  She looked relaxed and happy. I guess her babies are big enough to give her a break now and again.  She ate a few cashews slowly after gently taking them from my fingers. Then she made multiple trips taking walnut halves away from the sanctuary.  I bet she is introducing nuts to her babies. By now they should be the size of Oscar on Aug 23/10- eyes open, furred, eating solids and starting to walk and play. I really hope she lets me see them. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oscar Sighted!

M-L writes excitedly: 

Guess who was on the bird feeder, hanging upside down with little claws clutched to the roof as the body draped over the feeder and wee hands pulled sunflower seeds out of the opening at the base? Oscar!!

He was there really early with one of his young grey squirrel buddies.  They must come early before the cranky, hungry, sleep-deprived moms (same description for moms regardless of species) arrive to chase them off. I got some good pics of him.  Usually he runs away when I come into the sanctuary, but I was slinking like a burglar by the glass door to pick up my camera and get some shots before he knew I was there.  I had to take the pics through the glass, because he would have run away if the door was opened. 
Finally, some updated pics of the man who started it all.
Another squirrel following Oscar's lead.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Squirrel Sanctuary - Update

M-L writes:

Now that spring is here, the red winged black birds are back and hanging around the sanctuary.  Every one seems a little leery of them- the squirrels of all types, as well as the sparrows, chickadees, finches, cardinals and even the bold-as-brass bluejays. The blackbirds aren't interested in eating, just sitting in the trees and staring at all the feeders and trays.  After they leave, everyone comes out of the hidey holes in the bushes and trees and starts eating again.  

The single squirrels and the relaxed eaters, I assume the males, are chased off by the frantic eaters, the moms. The moms shovel the seeds in as fast as their little teeth can chew, then check out the nut tray, throwing the empty shells out onto the deck in disgust, and boot it over the trees to their waiting young. Of Oscar and his girls, only Missy was seen today, and she was in full mother mode, with no time for a chat or a cashew, as she chased off other squirrels, ate quickly and left. 

I like just watching the way the squirrels relate to each other.  The chittering sounds as they verbally communicate is supplemented by  frantic tail waving.  They get so worked up, that if they weren't using their claws to hold on, I think most squirrels would find their bums levitating from the updraft created by their swirling tails. There are definite hierarchies, based on gender- females rule, and age- with the parent aged squirrels ranked in order of size or bravado.
I seem accepted more, in that the squirrels still run away when I visit the sanctuary, but return much quicker to the feeding station after I have filled the 6 seed trays, 4 bird feeders and 2 nut trays and gone back inside. I guess I am seen as just a necessary nuisance and not a huge threat any more. I'm glad they still have caution around me, as not every member of my species is as accepting of  other species with whom we share this world. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Red Squirrels

The red squirrels are out in abundance! And what beautiful fur coats they have!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Paean of Praise

Oscar August 9, 2010

Others may write books or articles on wildlife. But nothing is so powerful as what you have shared through your website on 'Life with Oscar'. What you and Mary-Louise have accomplished is truly inspiring, all the more so that you have been able to give others a special insight into the experience.  

I was so pleased that M-L phoned to tell us about the 11,000 hits you've had from all over the world.  It is particularly encouraging, as we fight things like the barbaric coyote killing contests, to know that thousands of people share our wonder and respect for other species. 

(From a good squirrel friend)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Their Own Little World

After taking a spring break, M-L writes:
It's funny how all the squirrels have changed their behaviour with the coming of spring. Everyone is very busy being a squirrel and very little interested in me...... as it should be if Oscar and his girls are to have been successfully rehabilitated. Some squirrels are casual in feeding and others are frantic. I'm willing to bet the frantic ones are the new moms. Missy is very food motivated and is even shunning her cashews in favour of lots of seeds.
 Did I tell you that the red squirrel has had her babies?  She's much slimmer now, but still has a foul disposition.

Looking at the month old pic of Oscar, remembering he was about  two weeks premature, Missy's babies, now about five weeks old, should have looked like this the end of February. Now they would most resemble Oscar as he did in pictures from the third week of August when he was just starting to eat bits of banana. 
Look at the film clip of him learning to eat solids... it's hard to believe that little fellow grew to be the Oscar that now is tearing around the sanctuary on his own, ignoring all of my greetings. There are buds beginning on the bushes and trees in the sanctuary, so hopefully I will soon have pictures of squirrels eating them and maybe bringing the yummy new growth back to the dreys that are now home to the second generation of Oscar, Missy, Jackie and Honey.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Photo of Oscar as a Wee Tyke

This photo was taken on August 2/10, a little more than a month after Oscar came to live with my three cats and me.

He's so small  here, can you imagine how tiny he was in early July when he landed on my doorstep, carried from where he'd fallen by my cat, You You.

For several hours, I thought that YY had entered someone's house and had found a litter of Chihuahua pups  and had taken one. I had no idea what the tiny creature was until one of the neighbours said, "Why, it's a squirrel."

I have no idea how she knew this.

Snow Squalls Kept the Squirrels Absent

Such odd weather for this time of year. The snow pelted down and then it rained. Later, it snowed again.

These photos were taken by ML earlier in the year in her backyard squirrel sanctuary.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beautiful Squirrel Day

With the sun shining and a cerulean sky on the eve of a perigee moon, the squirrels came out to play.(Photos by ML)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy, Hungry Squirrels

By now, females may have had their first litter and, no doubt, some will be working on their next.

Infant squirrels, naked, blind and deaf, although who really knows about the hearing part, nestle together in treetop balls of leaves until almost two months old before they venture into the wide wonderful world.

Meanwhile, the adults dine lavishly on what they can get their little mitts on. In this case, at M-L's sanctuary, it's sunflower seeds and nuts which is why they are glossy and happy little rodents.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Snowing to Beat the Band

No squirrels are out in this. Expected are 15 to 20 cm of snow and it's really coming down.

Temps are supposed to rise and rain is predicted for most of the weekend. There'll be furry-tailed rodents out then foraging for food as they will be very hungry after two or there days in their nests.

More to come in a day or two.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bright and Sunny in Ottawa

Bet the squirrels were out today! And look, a mourning dove.ML is capturing the wildlife in her backyard sactuary.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Squirrels are OUT and We Have Photos!

 M-L was by today with her camera and she had new photos of the squirrel menagerie in her backyard sanctuary. Some people say that squirrels are tree rats, nothing more than rodents with  long furry tails. However, take a look at these photos and see how absolutely adorable be these tiny hirsute mammals.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An Update on Missy, the Mother

M-L reports:
Missy is the world's largest pig since giving birth. She now eats three cashews and two walnut halves before she will eat her sunflower seeds. 
No one but her was around the sanctuary. I sat outside in the sun, with camera in hand, but couldn't figure out why no squirrels were coming to eat from my overflowing treats and seed trays. After a half hour, I finally paid attention to what sounded like a teletype machine (oldies only know what this sounds like). There was a red squirrel sitting in the cedars flicking a tail around and giving me proper hell. Broadcasting my unwanted presence to everyone!! Only Missy loves me (or my treats) enough to come into the sanctuary with that warning.
Good squirrel---- motherhood has mellowed her.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Rodents are Picky

All winter long, I've been putting out bits and pieces of fruit and vegetables.

I also save crusts of bread, stale cake, old breakfast bars and cereal crumbs.

What do you suppose my rodents, the ones with the long furry tails, like best to eat?


Sunday, February 27, 2011

What the Squirrels Saw

 If they squirrels looked up the other day, this is what they would have seen. And they probably would have scurried to hide from this predator. I have never spotted a hawk in the vicinity before.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Squirrel Sex, Rampant, No Stopping Them!

An update on who is pregnant. No word on how or by whom. M-L writes after catching some rays on the back deck:

I was out in the sunshine this morning and noted the number of exceedingly fat little squirrels. More mommies-to-be! The red squirrel is pregnant and so is one of the black squirrels.  I haven't seen Jackie for a week, so maybe she is in the nesting box with her brood. Missy did a disappearing act and came back sans babies inside her now slim belly. 

Oscar was initially eating hanging upside down on a bird feeder, but left when I came out with my greeting "GOOD MORNING SQUIRRELS!!". No one was visible when I filled the seed trays- now with a 6th put out for the nursing mom who will need even more to eat. I shouted "I know you are out there Missy.......TREATS!" After a minute, I hear the stamping of little feet, and turn around to see her standing by the nut tray with a "hurry up" look on her face. I had the camera and now have pics of Missy and the others, but Oscar booted it when he saw what I was doing.  I guess he likes to be a man of mystery.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We Are Great Grand-somethings-or-other

M-L writes presciently and excitedly:

I just got a reply back from our squirrel expert and Missy being fat two weeks ago and now slim, scant abdomenal hair and her nipples showing. She indeed has had babies, but it is two weeks earlier than she has seen before, though she says it is expected with the weather. 

So, I am a great aunt and you are a grandmother! Hopefully she'll bring her babies to visit in May when they are out of wherever she has them.

We are both wondering, who is the father? Mr. Gray or our little lothario, Oscar?

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Feast for a Squirrel

Happened to find half a French Loaf on the sidewalk and knew that the squirrels would like this as an addition tot he apple cores and broccoli stems I'd put out this morning,

Within moments of me putting several chunks of bread on top of the composter, a magnificent gray squirrel, probably one of Oscar's relatives as he was born in my backyard, was down the tree, lickety-split and enjoying a nosh.

However, when he became a trifle anxious, he secured the bread in his mouth and made a dash for the tree, which I was fortunate enough to capture and then up he went. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snow Keeps the Furry-Tailed Ones In Their Nests

With a bit of snow every day for the past couple, the furry-tailed bundles of love are safe and sound in their nests.

I find when there's snow on tree branches, they must know that they can't grip properly and they stay warm and snug in their tree-top lairs.

But don't worry, squirrels let you know when they are out and hungry. There is such a chatter and clatter from outside my window insisting that I provide food immediately, it's like being summoned by the Queen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oscar, the Valliant, Returns

M-L writes excitedly at noon:

Guess who is back?  Oscar!
He was pigging-out on sunflower seeds from where they fall from the bird feeder.  Most of the silver he had in his tail has turned to auburn with silver highlights.  After he ate, he went up the maple tree where the nesting boxes are and scooted into the box that Jackie has not claimed.  A grey squirrel tried to look in after him then withdrew as a fierce little face poked out. Then the grey tried the lower entrance and a small arm flashed out at him. This is now officially Oscar's box when he visits.

Meanwhile, the two red squirrels were having NASCAR races in the fir tree.  Can they move! First one in the lead, then the other as they zoomed through the tree and then dashed into the old cedar hedge for a rip around the obstacle course of the broken limbs. The winner got to chase off the birds and other squirrels feeding on fallen seeds.

I haven't seen Missy in a week or so.  Maybe she has had her babies and is settled elsewhere with the big bad grey squirrels she was hanging out with in the fall and one of whom may be the daddy of her little ones.

Best of all, a mourning dove was eating on the ground under a feeder-- so spring is on the way. Hooray!!!