Jun 14 2008

Food for thought

Published by at 10:03 pm under Mammals

Eastern Gray Squirrel (photo by Chuck Tague)This morning at breakfast I watched a gray squirrel mosey along the garden wall, pick a ripe strawberry and begin to munch on it. My black cat crouched at the window and muttered, but the squirrel knew the cat could not get out. He nonchalantly ate half the strawberry and dropped it on my deck.

Annoying! He ate only half and then he littered.

And what was he doing eating fruit?

It turns out that gray squirrels specialize in nuts but they also eat fruit, insects, bird eggs and nestlings.

That explains the scuffle I saw yesterday. I found a squirrel running out of a tree hotly pursued by a pair of robins. The robins meant business and were trying to peck him. I figured they were defending their nest so I tried to help by chasing the squirrel away. I have no idea if that was effective.

It’s a difficult time for nesting birds. The nuts aren’t ripe yet and the squirrels are hungry. The only mitigating factor is that the red-tailed hawks are hungry too… for squirrels. 

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Food for thought”

  1. CHWon 16 Jun 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Looks like E2 is in the nest again today. Seems like he has a regular schedule for his early afternoon nap. Do falcons ever do two clutches in a season (even if the first nest was successful)? Any word on who he is, or any hopes in the near future that someone will be able to digiscope him?

  2. Kate StJon 16 Jun 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Do peregrines fledge more than one brood a year?
    No. There is no record of this ever happening in North America. The only thing peregrines will do – and this is early in the process – is that the female will lay another set of eggs if the first set is destroyed.
    It takes approximately 40 days from egg formation until hatching and another 40 until the nestlings fledge and (up to) another 40 for the young to become independent. There just isn’t enough time to have two broods in one year.

  3. Jon 26 Jun 2008 at 2:04 am

    This is a really neat and interesting blog you have here Kate. Your strawberry eating squirrel reminded me of one summer when my mom had planted strawberries along the side of our house. One day she noticed a particularly large and ripe strawberry and decided to give it one more day, but when she went to pick it the next day it was gone. She blamed my dad until several days later my sister caught our dog eating the strawberries right off the plant.

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