Squirrel Watching

Faced with a 30 degree drop in temperature and the arrival of a snowstorm, we all turn to our survival checklist. I was headed to the woodshed. Cream Puff, the resident red squirrel anomaly, was busy eating – and burying – sunflower seeds.

The firewood could wait – I had to watch and photograph Cream Puff in action. She had an impressive routine, which she repeated for an hour: grab a bite at the feeders, put a sunflower seed in her mouth, sprint 40 feet, bury the seed, sprint back to the bird feeder, and so on. She moved fast and the light was poor, so I tried my best to “pan” the action, swinging the camera at her pace.









At one point the snow was so heavy that it overwhelmed my auto focus. It was winter again and the squirrels were fat, happy, and well prepared. On the other hand, I now had to shovel several inches of heavy, wet snow in order to get firewood to the house!


Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

The Subnivean Zone

Deep, fluffy snow is a blessing – assuming you spend time underneath the protective snowpack, insulated from the cold and hidden from predators. Grouse know about this, as do meadow voles and red squirrels.

Wait for it….



Tunneling in the subnivean zone enables Red Squirrels to thrive in deep snow and survive the harshest of winters. I watched this one for half an hour as it expanded its elaborate tunnel system (with 4 access holes that kept me guessing) under piles of fresh snow. It can now sprint 40 feet, spruces trees to feeders, sight unseen!


Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.