Archive for the ‘Critter’ Category

How Squirrel Planted a Forest (A Modern Myth)

Squirrel was a lazy one. When all the other animals were working hard to store enough food for winter Squirrel just laughed at them busy at their work. Squirrel went out and found lots of food too…nuts and seeds, acorns and berries, tree bark and fungi. Some he ate right away, some he took to his nest or other storage caches nearby. But some he buried in the ground. That way the food was his, no one else got it, but he didn’t have to carry it all the way home.

Some of the other animals called Squirrel greedy, hiding the food that way, others just called him lazy. But Squirrel just laughed and laughed.

When winter came Squirrel lived in his nice warm nest all lined with feathers, moss, thistledown, dried grass, leaves and other things he had found. He ate and ate. And every day at sunrise and again before sunset he went out and gathered some of his stashed food. But one day he realized that he was missing some of his hiding places, no matter what he did he couldn’t remember where the hiding spots were! He ran around sniffing, and he found some of the spots. But it was not the right amount, he just knew it!

When spring came Squirrel was wandering around at the edges of the woods. He noticed many new young trees…oaks and walnuts and chestnuts and many others. He suddenly realized where all his missing hiding places were, they were in all the places the new baby trees were growing! So even until today Squirrels hide their nuts and seeds in the ground, and even until today they lose some of them every winter, so that even until today they are planting the new forests!

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Every fall Squirrels gather nuts and seeds to ensure they have enough food to last the winter. They store their harvest in their nests, in hallows of trees, and some they bury. When they need some food they walk around sniffing, looking for the nuts that are just below the surface of the ground, so that they can dig them up for the next meal. Sometimes they even forget some of the nuts, or they just never find them.

I feed the local birds all winter. And unlike some I even feed the squirrels. I put out ears of dried corn, some sunflower seeds, and nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, etc). This winter as I watched one young squirrel, obviously this year’s baby, picked up a nut and decided to bury it instead of carrying it all the way to the nest. He moved the snow, he moved the leaves, but when he got to the frozen ground, he couldn’t move it! That didn’t deter him, not this bright young squirrel…oh no…he buried it on the surface of the ground, carefully piling the leaves all around and over the walnut. Then he scooped up the snow and covered that pile! Our inventive youngster had the right idea, just a little late in the season!!

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Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly Have you ever wondered what is flitting before your eyes as you walk near wet areas…streams, ponds, even a wet ditch. It sparkles, and dances on the air. It just may be the Ebony Jwewlwinged Damselfly (Calopteryx maculata).

Ebony Jewelwing damselfly - MaleD

 They are not strong flies, and flitter around you like a butterfly for short distances landing frequently. It should be easy to approach them for relitive closeups, just make no sudden moves, remember they like sunny spots under the cover of the woods.

Like other damselflies they consume large numbers of other bug pest, so encourage them! Some of what the consume are Large Diving Beetle, Eastern Dobsonfly, Water Flea, Green Darner, Aquatic Worm, Northern caddis fly, Rotifer, Copepod, Scud, Dogwood Borer, Six-spotted Tiger Beetle, Flatworm, and the Green Hydra.

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly - Female (note the white spot on the wing)