The Suitcase Lady


March 22, 2011, 9:01 pm

I’m guessing our red squirrels sleep soundly at night. They spend all their daylight hours racing around our yard like acrobatic wind-up toys. When they aren’t playing chase, they’re stuffing their faces; a huge part of The Tooley Cafe’s entrees ends up in Tamiasciurus stomachs.

The red squirrels are also the most aggressive and vocal of the three types of resident tree squirrels. Their vocalizing has earned them the vernacular names chickaree, boomer, chatterbox and chatterer. The Ojibway called them gid-a-mon and the Potawatomi, zee-sin-ko. We call them “little reds”.

Red squirrels announce their displeasure with intruders by a scolding chatter. This noise is accompanied by foot stomping and tail jerking. The faster and louder they chatter, the faster they stomp and jerk. Then they dash away through their tree top freeways.

Between sunrise and sunset, through all the seasons our little reds are totally energized. They are mostly arboreal, jumping from limb to limb and tree to tree with total ease. Little reds can span from 8  to 10 feet in one leap.  Across the ground, speeds up to 14 miles per hour are reached.

On several occasions, I’ve seen these guys race through the yard to our low feeding table by leaping right over a startled bird or chipmunk.Even the big gray squirrels scatter when the reds come zooming in to have lunch.

The other day I was enjoying the show, when zap, the red squirrel I was watching disappeared. I did a double take! The mystery of the vanishing squirrel was quickly solved when it popped out the opposite side of the long snowbank. A closer examination revealed several entrance and exit holes. The little reds have excavated a complex subway system in our snowbanks.

I know that many ardent birders spend serious money on “squirrel proof” bird feeders and other squirrel defying paraphernalia. We feel that a bucket of bird seed is a reasonable price for admission to a three-ring circus in our own front yard.

Click above for full size image.

Note the subway entrance to the left of the post!

4 Comments for this entry

  • Kathleen Mendell

    Mary, I love your blogs. I learn so much, I feel like I’m reading a really good book. Thank you so much.

  • John

    We are fond our MD gray squirrels as well. Unlike the birds, they are reliable to perform for food. Within 10 minutes of placement, we have a show.

    Which means that in addition to music, candles, good food and wine, the ambiance at any daylight meal in our house includes a show and often eye contact with the tree dwellers out back.

    Hope to see the little reds when we are in Cleveland next month!

  • Naomi

    Scolding chatter and foot stomping? I think I may know some red squirrels (joking!). Great photo and commentary.

  • eve robillard

    Oh, Mary, I agree. Have at it, critturs!
    Thanks for another delightful entry.
    yours rainily,