Yesterday at this time, I was glad to be home, hunkered down in the house, fingers flying over the keyboard while the ping of freezing rain was hitting the windows. It was an ugly and gray day, which began with a quick coating of snow, followed by that dreaded freezing rain which continued overnight.
So, this morning when I opened the screen door to head out to run the car, I expected to be slippin’ and slidin’ on the sidewalk and was pleasantly surprised to find the cement was dry and I could go on my walk after all. A bonus day! Since I thought there would be no walk, I piddled around before getting outside, so it was too late to make the two-mile round trip to the Park and be back on time for work.
I eked out three miles walking in the ‘hood. That leaves me just ten miles to go to make my goal. I hope to walk this weekend, but the window for walking is very small for Saturday and Sunday begins foggy and rainy so it will be an afternoon trek – likely the squirrels won’t be around by then because they come out in the morning, but go to bed early.
While on my walk this morning, I was watching a trio of squirrels playing tag. There was a black squirrel, grey squirrel and a Fox squirrel (like Parker) and they had boundless energy as they chased one another in a tall tree. They went up and down, around and around, and did some death-defying jumps as they frolicked on a huge oak tree. I had to stop watching them as they would leap in mid-air from branch to branch in mid-air and the one behind would follow. Yikes!
Many of you have asked me about my furry peanut pals at the Park and where they go in the Winter. I told you they do indeed stick around through the dead of Winter and even showed you some links of prior posts or photos I’ve taken showing squirrels noshing on nuts or looking for nuts with a snowy background.
I promised that once the trees were bare and the squirrels’ nest were exposed, I’d take some pictures of them.
By now the squirrels are set for Winter, even though we’ve got a few weeks before that actual event takes place on the calendar. My little buddies will still appreciate if I visit and make a “dropping” of peanuts or walnuts, even though they’ve hidden enough peanuts, or other food they’ve foraged, to last three years! You sure wouldn’t know they have such a stash if you saw the shameless begging when I arrive at the Park, and this sucker just doles out squirrel goodies like she doesn’t know those facts and figures. That’s okay because I like to spoil them.
You may recall I told you about that extra layer of “underfur” and fat that Mother Nature provides so squirrels stay toasty through the cold and snowy Winter months, but it still must get cold in those drafty nests high up in the trees. When reading about squirrels and their habitats recently, I learned that although most squirrels live in nests, some find refuge by taking over a tree cavity, perhaps a tree trunk decimated by a woodpecker. Must be drafty with all those holes – hmm. But most squirrels live in dreys, which are nests fashioned from twigs, which are first woven together by the squirrels for stability, then molded together using damp leaves and moss, even paper. These nests are built on secure branches, often the fork of a tree, and may be as high up as 25-30 feet off the ground. Inside the nest, in an area as big as two feet in diameter, there is shredded bark, grass and more leaves … all comfy and cozy for those long Winter nights ahead.
Since twigs and leaves are sure not as toasty as a down comforter or warm woolen blanket, the squirrels sleep with their bodies curled up together like a ball to maintain body heat and keep warm.
The neighborhood squirrels like when their humans build them squirrel boxes, which are simple wooden boxes with a hole they can pop in and out of, and they resemble an oversized birdhouse. Our Park squirrels are troopers and their twiggy-and-leafy nests are “home sweet home” to them.
Below are some photos of nests I saw on my most-recent trip to the Park.
Here’s a couple of close-ups of the same nest:
You only think you are cold … what if you only had fur and a few twigs and leaves to keep you warm?
[Image of “Home Sweet Home” from Pinterest]