So yesterday you saw a post about birds disgruntled with one another … who needs words when you see a pair of our feathered friends in silhouette and study their body language. Oops … did I just say birds have body language? Their actions showed they were just like humans, bickering, but still ready to make amends, even though their mate (or friend) was not so amenable. So that was a glimpse at discontent in the bird world … here’s a look at discontent between a somewhat ornery squirrel and a woman just offering kind words and jumbo unsalted peanuts.
Whenever I’ve strayed to other parks and am absent from my usual go-to nature nook for more than a few days, my favorite furry friend, Parker, will always approach me upon my return. However, instead of him making a beeline toward me when I step onto the perimeter path, or, to begin dancing around my feet while I open up the Ziploc bag to fish out a few peanuts, I am meant to feel shamed for not being there every day to dole out his treats. Do I deserve such a chilly reception? Hardly! If there was a thought bubble over little Parker’s head, I’m sure it would read “great – you’re back; so have you been with other squirrels and forgotten about me?”
Recently, this squirrel featured above was at Council Point Park. He looked a wee bit different than our Fox squirrels (like Parker), or the smaller, svelte and rather skittish gray or black squirrels. This fellow resembled a Fox squirrel, but had tufted ears. Here in Southeast Michigan we don’t have any of those cute, tufted-ear squirrels (also known as Abert’s squirrels), whose “hairdos” rival Albert Einstein on a bad hair day.
Hmm, so where did this furry-eared fellow come from? Perhaps one of its parents might have scrambled into someone’s truck bed, traveled to the Mitten State, made itself at home here in SE Michigan, then looked for a mate. That’s my guess, but who knows? I even reached out to the DNR to ask if this was a type of Michigan squirrel that I’d never seen before. They replied “Hi Linda – Thanks for contacting us. Yes, this is indeed a Fox squirrel To quote our staff “it just looks like he/she is having a bad hair day.”
Just as I was curious about this furry friend’s appearance and those tufts of hair that grew around his ears, he seemed to be pondering my appearance as well. “Should I trust her?” She feeds the other squirrels and they are not scared of her. Well, maybe I’ll take just one peanut, but I’ll back off if she comes too close to me!”
He reminded me of my grandfather who wore a painters cap on his head 99.9% of the time. On a rare occasion when he removed it, perhaps to scratch his head, or for picture-taking after my grandmother said “Omer, take off that *&^% cap”, there were little tufts of hair over each ear, and the tips of his eyeglass frames were buried deep within that wispy gray hair, but I digress.
After some serious tail swishing and discernible angst over whether or not to proceed closer to the tall stranger who spoke softly and offered peanuts that were nestled in the palm of her hand, his comfort level went up and he warily hopped onto the metal park bench and eventually noshed on those nuts …
… then dropped to the ground where I left him a little pile in exchange for these photos.
So, I left the Park that day, a collection of cute photos in place and a post bubbling around in my brain.
The next day I returned and saw the same squirrel near that same park bench. But instead of being personable, he had developed quite the attitude. In fact, it was as if we’d never interacted the day before. He took one look at me and scrambled up into the tree where he glared down with disdain at my presence, and, on occasion, chattered angrily.
So I similarly snubbed him, but in good faith left some peanuts on the ground. I moved on while muttering “suit yourself – because of your attitude I won’t even waste my time naming you! ”
I turned around to find Parker taking in the whole scene, smug in the fact that he is still #1.