I heard a tapping on the glass of my bathroom window. I put my face up close and was looking into the eyes of the neighborhood red squirrel. Just behind him, hanging from the inside of the eve, was my bird feeder, completely devoid of grain and bits of fruit and nuts. The blackbirds had beaten him to it, although the redbird and titmouse had been able to work in and out.
He didn’t try to escape my stare. I swear it seemed he was saying, “Hey, let’s get some food out here, buddy.”
How smart is the tree-dwelling red and eastern grey squirrel?
Well, not as smart as I’m making him out to be, perhaps, but all kinds of studies have been done on the squirrel’s intelligence, by organizations such as the Chicago Academy of Sciences and Peggy Wotebaret Nature Museum, Project Squirrel.
They can block almost any attempt to keep them from feasting at bird feeders. Studies reveal they’ve figured how to adapt to suburban and city life, and how to use people to their own benefit.
They can involve themselves in deceptive behavior, something extremely rare in animals. If another squirrel, or human, is watching, they’ll pretend to be burying a nut, digging a hole and filling it in, while all the time hiding the nut under an armpit to be buried elsewhere.
If you’re walking through the woods and hear that sound of chittering from a squirrel in a tree, it means, “Hey, you’re getting too close to my food cache, get the heck out of here.”
The whiskered creatures live mostly alone, not in family groups, and suckle their young only briefly.
The next time someone disagrees with an opinion of yours and tells you, “You’re nutty as a squirrel,” take it as a compliment.
Hunting seasons are designed to keep the squirrel populations in line with available food sources. Some years oak trees don’t
produce many acorns and hickory and walnut trees don’t grow many nuts.
In addition to the traditional fall hunting seasons, Kentucky also has a spring hunt. It’s past tense now, having been held from May 20 through June 16. The limit was six per day, 12 in possession, the same as legal limits will be this fall.
The pioneers relied on squirrel meat as a big part of their table fare.
My grandmother Piatt would not allow a squirrel in her kitchen, claiming they were nothing but rodents and the same as eating rats.
I’ve never eaten a rat, but I remember those delicious meals my mother would fix of fried squirrel, gravy and cathead biscuits.
SUBDING THE GLARE
Fishermen can buy a pair of sunglasses to cut down the glare on the water for $20 to $25. I read somewhere, I think it was in People magazine, where either a movie star of one of our multi-million dollar athletes, paid $60,000 for a pair of sunglasses. There was a photo of him wearing them.
I put on my own sunglasses and looked at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t see any difference in looks between theirs and mine. Oh, I could see a difference in the faces, greatly, but not in the glasses themselves.
The difference was I got mine at Dollar General for $4.98.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 932-3619.