The squirrel whisperer.

As the days grow colder and Winter weather is on the horizon, the squirrels become desperate to create a cache for Winter. Of course, I want to help my furry friends all I can so they can gather and stash. I can relate … after all, throughout the month of October, I made countless trips to the grocery store to stock up on shelf-stable provisions to eliminate trips to crowded Meijer, as COVID-19 stats continue to climb here in Michigan.

Perhaps I walk a fine line between lavishing the squirrels with peanuts, while simultaneously providing ongoing photo ops for myself. I assure you my intentions are not self-serving and it is a win-win for both of us.

I was strolling in the Park in early October, long before the leaves began fluttering down, when, in the distance, I saw a Fox squirrel sitting on top of a park bench.

I couldn’t tell if it was Parker, and, as I approached that bench, the squirrel did not run over to greet me, nor stomp on my shoe and beg for peanuts, so I figured it was either a newbie to the Park, or a youngster, not brave enough, without benefit of its brethren being around, to approach me. Usually the Fox squirrels are fearless, while the gray and black squirrels are always skittish and reluctant to venture too close to me.

I am amused when I toss down peanuts that they obviously want, but they are fearful of coming too close to me, the tall hulking human who looms large. I can almost hear the gears in their brains clicking fast and furiously about my presence. Nowadays, they might even be thinking “what if it is a ploy … you know, a snatch-and-grab, like that flying squirrel trafficking ring in Florida last month that we heard about?”

Sometimes the squirrels study me and I daren’t make any sudden move without them retreating, that is, until hunger pangs, or their nut-gathering efforts overtake any fear of their human benefactor. Then my furry friends will give me and the peanuts on the path wide berth as they calculate how quickly they may zoom in and snatch a peanut … or two or three, only if I am deemed “safe” to be around.

Your Roving Reporter is always on the lookout for cute squirrels.

So, back to my Saturday stroll, when I saw the Fox squirrel sitting on a park bench a few paces away from me and I figured “no problem – it will stay there and perhaps I’ll get a cute shot like this photo of Parker taken on one of the memorial benches a few years ago.”

However, that idea quickly backfired when the squirrel took one look at me and sped up the tree to the highest branch. Really?! Note to self: “look in the mirror when you get home … are you looking especially scary today – it is the season of the witch after all.”

I really wasn’t fazed in the least by this bad behavior, so I drew the camera out of its pouch with my left hand and reached into the bag of peanuts with my right hand and quickly tossed a handful down, but not on the ground … on the park bench in two different spots.

Of course peanuts always pique their interest.

Meanwhile, my furry friend hovered nearby, scoping me out from the tree branch. “C’mon sweetie” I cooed softly to her. “Come get these peanuts I put here for you; they’re in two different spots – take your pick. C’mon down and you can feast while I take your picture.” That squirrel looked at me a bit dumbfounded – clearly she was a newbie and couldn’t grasp this concept of peanuts on the park bench.

I coaxed her a little more, while she continued to practice social distancing from the tree branch. My patience was wearing thin, even though it was a Saturday and I had all the time in the world. I told her “well, so be it – I’ll wait a few more minutes, otherwise Linda will be on her way as there are other hungry squirrels to feed who are more trusting.” Well, whether my furry pal comprehended what I said (highly unlikely) or curiosity and hunger got the best of her, she quickly descended from her perch and scampered over to the bench. (“Now, we’re finally getting somewhere” I thought.)

So take a look at what happened next. This would have made a great slideshow, but the slideshow feature in the Block Editor is not great, so here goes:

As you can see, I did not convince Ms. Squirrel to climb onto the graffiti-riddled park bench to get those peanuts – instead, she rationalized it was safer and easier to simply retrieve them from beneath the mesh metal seat. Hmm.

By now, I couldn’t keep from muttering to myself “really – you were just up on the seat – in fact you were sitting on the top of the back of the seat, so it’s not like you’re afraid of heights, or you’ve never climbed up here before – gimme a break!”

Nope, she continued relentlessly poking a claw through the mesh to retrieve a peanut with no success, as she went from one side of the bench to the other. Yes I thought of throwing out some more peanuts, but no, that was downright silly. I realized that although I still retain my moniker of “The Peanut Lady” apparently “The Squirrel Whisperer” not so much.

I stayed a little longer, as I could afford to linger and it was a gorgeous Fall day. As I tapped my foot, camera in hand, I remained hopeful she’d come to her senses, but she finally scampered away, dejection written all over her furry face.

Wait, there is a “take two” in this scenario.

Just as I decided to move on, (away from all this foolishness), suddenly an inquisitive black squirrel came bounding over and approached the park bench, sniffing appreciatively from ground level, then decided to have “a go at” those peanuts.

Just like her counterpart, this squirrel poked along the bottom, even stood up on its hind legs to check out the goods, then, if it did not persist in trying to pull a peanut through the mesh … nope, that was not happening, as these are Hampton Farms Jumbo Peanuts, usually a double nut, if not a triple nut inside the shell. So, slipping them through the tiny holes didn’t happen as you see in this brief sequence of photos.

After poking and pulling, this squirrel similarly gave up, and, if a squirrel could shrug its shoulders, it would have done so.

I felt badly and was about to toss some peanuts on the pathway and just leave, when squirrel #1 returned to give it another go. I watched and waited while she positioned herself just right, latched onto a peanut with one sharp claw and gave it a tug …

… nothing happened, so she circled around again, determined to give it the “old college try”

… then, without further ado, she leaped onto the bench like she’d never been there before. Well “yay, you go girl!” I told her.

Shaking my head I could not help but say “I dunno about you – why didn’t you just do that the first time – are you daft – you give women a bad name!”

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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44 Responses to The squirrel whisperer.

  1. Looks like squirrel logic doesn’t work the same way as our logic does. 🙂 That black squirrel is very cool. What a fun set of pictures this is, but I loved the old photo of Parker holding the peanut. His paws are so adorable and the expression on his face is so sweet. ♡ I wonder if you will see Ms. Squirrel again and if she will remember the trick to getting the peanuts. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I wanted to shake her and say “you dumb bunny, you were just up there!” You know that squirrels are really smart and deserve a lot of credit for their gathering and caching efforts (just like some birds who do that in trees), but this made me shake my head. We once had only Fox squirrels so I’m glad to see the black and gray squirrels at this park. Parker is a real cutie … that is one of my favorite pictures of him. He was right next to me happily noshing on nuts – a perfect pose, the bench almost blended in with his fur. I hope Ms. Squirrel “gets” what she is supposed to do next time. I know I put a lot of photos in here but had to show the mindset of my furry pals.

      Like

  2. Maybe she decided you weren’t as scary as you look! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joni says:

    That’s hilarious Linda! Have you ever seen any of the squirrels try and attack the peanuts from below before? Maybe there was a hawk in the vicinity and they felt the need to take cover? Were the peanuts eventually gone?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Joni – glad you liked it. I know it was a lot of pictures, but I had to put in the whole sequence. You know, I’ve never seen them do that before and you make a valid point – perhaps they did not want to be up top and visible to the hawk for a prolonged period of time. When I walk there on Saturdays I am there for a long time and the peanuts were gone by the time I left. They usually eat some and hide the rest … they are resourceful. What worries me is I will stay there near them while they eat peanuts, kind of guarding them as I take photos. But often they do run out to hide them in the middle of the Park thus being great targets for the hawk by being in the middle of the grass. It was easier to leave extra peanuts when the picnic tables were there. I am working on a Plan “B”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        What if you put the peanuts under the benches so there’s shelter? Or maybe they wouldn’t see them there?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I was thinking about what you wrote last night Joni and felt badly that I thought she was dumb, when perhaps she was seeking shelter … I’ve seen two hawks go after the black squirrels already when I was at the Park … who knows what goes on when I’m not. Right now they may not see them under the bench as there are a lot of leaves (on most benches), but, that is a good idea after the leaves blow away. I have a solution for the meantime and will write about it as I’ve taken some photos – I found a Weeping Mulberry tree in the Park .. it has never been trimmed as far as I can tell and its branches reach down to the ground and I’ve been hiding some peanuts under that tree … the squirrels have learned to look for them and today they were waiting under the tree when I got on the path. The branches are hard, not like a weeping willow, and I’m confident that a hawk cannot get in there … I hope I am right, but I feel badly they took the picnic tables away … I just worry the same thing will happen as the squirrels at the house.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        That’s a better idea – the tree will give them more shelter. I just thought it strange as you’ve never mentioned them doing that before.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, it is very strange and two of them doing the same thing. I can try your suggestion on the other side of the Park when the leaves are gone. I think this weeping tree might be a good bet … they have already been coming to the spot under the tree … so far, so good.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. AnnMarie R stevens says:

    Dear Miss: “Squirrel Whisperer”………………………………………….You do tell a good hold your interest story…………………………..I enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. interesting behaviour? I wonder If they both liked having the seat between you and them? Like it was a shield.

    Like

  6. Sandra J says:

    Such a wonderful story today, the Squirrel Whisperer, yes. You are that, they must have been newbies. So cute putting their little paws through the bench trying to capture a peanut. That is so entertaining to watch, a wonderful way to spend the day at the park.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Sandra – glad you enjoyed it. My Park squirrels are like your birds … they are entertaining to watch. The time passes too quickly when I am there – especially a day like today … like a Summer day for goodness sake!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ally Bean says:

    I’m laughing at the little squirrel guy reaching up from under the seat to get the peanut. Kind of innovative, decidedly fun to see. You and your squirrel friends!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I figure they both had to be newbies from the ‘hood or the first time out on their own foraging. 🙂 It was comical to watch, then Joni suggested that maybe they felt safer from the hawk that way.” She could be right and I am the one who is wrong!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What an amusing story! She did seem dumb!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amorina Rose says:

    Love the humour of your posts

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Eliza says:

    It got there!
    I tagged you on instagram – you’d like her posts. She has geese friends like you do Parker and co

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Laurie says:

    What a great story! So your squirrel finally screwed up her courage and was able to get up on the bench to get some peanuts. I love a happy ending! 🙂 Even if it means that you have to hold onto the moniker “Peanut Lady”, rather than “Squirrel Whisperer”!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Laurie – I saw this little tale unfolding before me and decided after I got the photos, I had to share it. I love a happy ending too … I did really wonder what the hangup was as to going back up there! 🙂

      Like

  12. The photos are too cute, and it makes your story come alive! The front shot of the squirrel is cute; I didn’t know they had feet and hands like that.
    It would’ve been sad if the black squirrel came and ate all the peanuts after the finder couldn’t get her hands on it. But they’re both very silly to try to reach it from the bottom. “So close but so inaccessible!!” they’re probably saying to themselves. Glad you got to stick around long enough to see the first squirrel get those peanuts. I like the previous comment of the moniker “Squirrel Whisperer.” So appropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      They sure were giving me a smile Esther – it was as if neither of them though to jump up, something one had already done. Squirrels are pretty smart … they bury nuts and remember where, but didn’t grasp this concept – hmmm. Thank you – glad that you liked this post.

      Like

  13. Rebecca says:

    You get the cutest squirrel photos! I’ve watched the squirrels at my feeders and they are pretty smart at figuring out how to get the seeds. Funny that something so simple confused them so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      There is a black squirrel and gray squirrel that have become braver and coming up to see me more often, so I’ve got some close-ups of them which I’m going to use in a post in the next few weeks. They are so cute and cuddly looking that they remind me of a puppy or kitten. I could not figure out what was going on that made getting the peanuts so difficult that they tried this approach, but Joni, a fellow blogger, suggested they were sheltering from the hawk(s). The problem is, I can try to feed them near a bush or under a tree and stay near them while they eat, but they insist on running across the Park to bury the peanuts, thus exposing themselves to a hawk attack. I’ve seen two hawks go after the black squirrels – they escaped luckily, unlike my squirrels at the house that met their fate from a neighborhood Cooper’s hawk.

      Like

      • Rebecca says:

        Sheltering from hawks makes sense. It’s a good way to avoid hawks, but not such a good way to get peanuts. I’ve never seen a black squirrel. They are very pretty.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I’m trying to help them out putting peanuts where they can escape … I hope they are done hiding and will stay put while they eat the peanuts and not go to the middle of the grass where they are a target by hawks. They would eat a few but bury a lot but lately the reverse.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Reading this was just lovely 🙂

    Like

  15. Dave says:

    I can’t get over the size of the TAILS on your little friends. They’re huge! Or maybe, our high-desert area here in Colorado doesn’t have “real” squirrels like the fox and black. Our ground squirrels have no tails to speak of (which probably helps with the agility they need to dart in and out of their holes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Dave – Your squirrels are likely faster than our squirrels, although the gray and black squirrels hop when they run – boing!!! Especially the gray squirrels as they bound around the Park. I guess the Fox squirrels were named because their tails resemble a fox tail and its fur – they are huge tails. They are quite pudgy now like they get for Winter with heavier fur and a layer of fat (not just from peanuts). I have some photos coming up of gray squirrels and their tails are very large and fluffy, almost overwhelming their small bodies.

      Like

  16. bekitschig says:

    Ha ha, this is me trying to take squirrel photos … maybe I need more patience?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Ha ha – well, like the squirrels you persevere (as do I as I come home with way more pics than I actually use). But they gave up – where was their spirit? I was glad the one came back and gave it a second try. They made me laugh – it was such an easy “assignment”!!

      Liked by 1 person

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