Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Getting Squirrely

A friend told me to check out the bushiness of the squirrel's tails in Veterans Park, Redondo Beach.  A fat, bushy squirrel tail indicates a harsh winter.  I looked it up in the Farmers' Almanac (almanac.com) and found they say the same thing.  Bumping up the class factor, the Almanac also printed a little poem which goes like this:

Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry
Will cause snow to gather in a hurry. 

Isn't that precious?

Thurs. Writers (the august South Bay Writers Workshop) meets in a room with great views of the park on the left and a large patio on the right where the squirrels chase each other presumably in play or else it's breeding season for a long time in Redondo Beach.  Be that as it may.

We visited Galena on our recent trip and it's very much six or eight blocks of tourists "window licking" (a French expression for our "window shopping.") and among the many, many shops we came to Wild Birds Unlimited which had books for sale and always having been intrigued by squirrels, I bought "Enjoying Squirrels More (or Less) which explored such lively topics as "Profiles in Furage" but it seemed to me that the book was more interested in Ways To Prevent Squirrels From Eating All of the Bird Seed.  Bit of a bias there ... birds good/squirrels bad. 

What I gleaned:  squirrels date back to 54 and 37 million years ago.  (How anyone could check this beats me, but no scientist I)

Antarctica and Australia are the ONLY two continents that don't have to worry about their bird feeders.  There are no squirrels (but persistent and unsettling rumors report that small boats have been seen approaching their land masses.) 

Dissecting the Squirrel: 

Self-preservation - large oval eyes are located on the sides of the head for spotting predators.  Rounded ears make it easier to hear predators such as cats.  They have powerful back legs which enable them to jump around and climb in tall trees.  Their leathery foot pads and nasty claws are said by the experts to make for a softer landing and if they don't have to stop and do first aid on a paw, they can beat feet much faster.

Their sense of smell is acute and combined with the claws on paws, enable them to locate, dig up and re-store nuts. 

One of their biggest assets, the author states, are their tails which act as balance assistance and or cushioning a fall (probably young squirrels.)  In cold weather, the tail serves as a blanket as they huddle in their nests.  I've never seen this, but it's claimed that the tip of the tail, when hoisted up over their head serves as an umbrella. 

The tail also reflects agitation - an enemy approaching - swish!  Swish!   

Having read the informative chapters in the book ($3.99) I feel even more friendly to the local squirrels.  Except for one.  We have an avocado tree that is so tall it brushes up against the office window.  The squirrel likes to tease Fred the cat by facing off with him - squirrel in tree; Fred in window making this peculiar ... gobbling ... noise.  This is all okay with me, neither one can get to the other so enjoying the show is refreshing. 

But this kind of puts me on the side of the "GET OUTTA THE BIRD FEEDER!" and it's this.  That freakin' squirrel takes one bite - or a brief gnaw - which kills the avocado for human consumption. 

Punxatony Phil is looking better every day of avocado season.


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