Monday, September 19, 2016

Squirrels gone wild

My hapless toad

Back in 2016, I wrote a posting about some strange behavior our squirrels exhibited after I placed a feather in one of my pots on the deck.


I was recently reminded of this episode. A small stone toad resides year ‘round in my little veggie planter. The other day I placed the toad on the deck while I was refreshing some of the herbs.


Not long after a squirrel cautiously approached the toad. It started fussing and lunging at it. Finally, it bit the stone toad on the nose, then ran off. I have no clue as to why the squirrel was so upset. (Fortunately, the toad was not harmed in the attack.)


So, in case you missed the original Squirrels Gone Wild, here it is again. Let me know if you have any thoughts as to what squirrels have against amphibians (or feathers.)

A spill in our creek led to strange events in our garden

On June 30, a water utility company that owns storage tanks up the stream from us had an accident.  One of its tanks overflowed sending 220,000 gallons of water and silt down Hogback Creek.

Our neighbor who lives above us came to our door in tears. After years of making sure the creeks and streams on his property were as pristine as possible, his work was washed away. I will write more about this tragedy in my next posting.

Feeling sad and helpless, we offered to walk up there to take photographs to send environmental authorities. While documenting the devastation, I found something that unleashed several weeks of chaos in my own back yard.

The hapless feather briefly guarded my tomato plant
It seemed innocent enough – the wing feather of a wild turkey. I decided to place it in my little veggie planter on the back deck in hopes it would discourage squirrels from digging up my tomatoes and herbs so they could hide nuts.

The squirrels had other ideas.

Not long after I added the feather to the planter, I noticed it was missing.  Later, we saw it on the ground 20 feet below the deck. Perhaps it blew out of the planter, we reasoned.

The next time it was lying on rocks that slope down to the creek. I had to get a long rake to retrieve it.

The third time, the perpetrator not only threw the feather off the deck, the little devil also ate the left hand side of it.

Donna spied the feather and flew into a fury
Determined to beat the squirrels at their own game, I used a two-foot strand of covered wire to tie it to the railing. On numerous occasions I found it hanging from the wire over the edge of the deck floor. Each time more of the feather was missing.

Now a word about our squirrels. We don’t mind them visiting as long as they don’t get on the feeders. They quite often come to the back door and beg, or stand on the table to attract our attention.  They are well behaved, and we reward them with a few unsalted nuts.

Donna, one of our regulars, is about as mild mannered as a squirrel can be. Yet one afternoon Chris saw her attack the feather with such ferocity, he had to chase her off. She lunged at it, bit it and tried to rip it free from the wire.

Today, this is all that is left of that poor feather. We have no idea what the squirrels had against it.

But  I definitely won’t be dressing as a turkey for Halloween.


Janneke said...

So exciting but strange. You can try to dress as a turkey for Halloween, may be the squirrel come to attack with a whole army, no good idea I think. I know these grey squirrels are a nuisance in America and the UK, but oohh they are so cute and funny. When we visit the English country side I can watch them for hours, but there are also lots of them in Kensington Park in London....
Regards, Janneke

Skeeter said...

Squirrels are forever entertaining us around the gardens. We have a fairly good balance of give and take around here but every now and then, that one crazy squirrels gets my goat by doing something crazy such as your feather...

The Principal Undergardener said...

The ultimate problem with squirrels is that they've never seen those Walt Disney films we grew up on. They don't know how they're supposed to behave, and so they behave like, well, squirrels. Squirrels and turkeys are apparently sworn enemies, and even a feather is too much to bear! Great post!

Lynn Hunt said...

Janneke, how nice to hear from you! Like you, we find the squirrels to be entertaining until a bad one comes along and my husband has to go after it with the broom. One little squirrel likes to visit at lunch when we eat on the deck. He has a few nuts, we have our sandwiches. Take care!

Lynn Hunt said...

Skeeter, most of our squirrels know the "rules" but I understand from the woman at the White Squirrel Shoppe in Brevard that they move around. So the next batch will have to read the instructions and stay off the feeders!

Lynn Hunt said...

Dear Principal Undergardener,I am hoping some of my nature experts will tell us why the squirrels had it in for the feather. When I thought it belonged to a hawk, I could understand. Still, the episode was interesting. BTW, Donna dropped by tonight during happy hour.

Sunil Patel said...

Hello Lynn, I'm afraid grey squirrels are just tree rats to me but it must have been strange and amusing to see the turkey feather receive such hostile attention from them. I wonder why they took against it so strongly?

Lynn Hunt said...

Sunil, one of my friends who is quite knowledgeable about wildlife said squirrels and turkeys can vie for acorns so it was a natural, instinctive reaction. We learn something new every day!! Take care, my friend!

Huyen said...
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