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.

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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!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Backyard Bushy Tails

This is an excerpt from the rodent instruction manual for conducting a bird feeder raid on a snowy winter day. Enjoy!

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Scout for predators and nuisance photographers

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Run like the wind

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Take advantage of snow squalls to conceal your mission

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Scout again when the squall subsides – you never know

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Devour everything in sight

 

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But not so much that you can no longer run!

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Run up and down a smooth pole: vigorous exercise after a heavy meal is important

Photos by NB Hunter (December 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

Spring Colors

A continuous cycle of rainy, cold weather has made it difficult to enjoy the flush of new growth and vibrant colors that define early spring. A welcome exception to these dismal conditions is the presence of goldfinches swarming around the Nyjer seed* feeders. Their bright breeding plumage has a florescent glow in the drizzle and fog.

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*Nyjer seed: a trademarked name for the seed of African yellow daisy, grown commercially in African, India, southeast Asia

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Squirrel Scuffles

When several squirrels arrive at a bird feeder, a scuffle invariably occurs. These battles for dominance and feeding rights are usually brief, harmless — and blurry! Two or more squirrels (reds and/or grays) will suddenly leap, run, roll and whirl around as the alpha gives chase. Within a second or two the matter is settled and feeding resumes.

I never fully appreciated this scenario until recently, when I decided to crank up my camera settings and attempt to freeze the action of a Gray Squirrel scuffle. There was more going on than I realized – ears back, eyes closed, a knock-down – amazing!

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An alpha caught in the act, raiding a bird feeder – with no competitors in sight!

 

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.