Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Squirrels' Pumpkin Feast

My pumpkins are still providing holiday cheer to the resident critters in my yard.

Remember the mini pumpkins I left on the back porch table when I went off to enjoy Thanksgiving with my parents and grandparents?  Well, they're still out there.

I thought, "Well, I can't eat them... I may as well leave them where someone else can."

So, I did.  They seriously went to town on those things.

Two mini pumpkins: Top pumpkin has one large piece gnawed off.  Bottom pumpkin is half devoured from the top, in a smile shape.

That picture was taken yesterday morning.  The pumpkins were frozen, and glittered in the early sun, each string inside resembling an icicle.

Yeah... I totally need a new camera.  Someday I'll get around to it...

My daughter has proclaimed that the lower pumpkin looks "smiley."  What do you think?

You probably remember me musing about which critter had been devouring the pumpkin.  I knew it wasn't, say, a mouse, because the marks were too large.  Well, later on that morning, after I had moved the pumpkins apart, I got my answer as I looked out the window of my office.

Squirrel with front paws atop a mini pumpkin, at rest.


And is it just me, or does he look pretty darned fat?

In particular, he's a gray squirrel.  As much as I used to fight with these little guys, vying for territory, I've actually come to appreciate them.  Not only that, but by watching them in the yard so frequently, I've learned that their size varies, based on location (environment?).

While on my Thanksgiving visit, I saw a few gray squirrels at my grandma's house, and was amazed at how small they were.  The ones here are not only fatter, but larger overall.  If I was to pick one up and hold it in my arms (Ha!  Yeah, right!), its body could easily stretch from my elbow to right about at the point where my fingers begin.  Not including the tail, of course.  At my grandma's house, however, they would probably only stretch  about as far as my palm.

Big difference.

I wonder how behavior changes in the squirrels of these two different areas.  I'm in town, whereas my grandma is in a rural environment, so I imagine there must be some rather huge behavioral differences based on that.  Perhaps I should spend some time observing that the next time I'm out that way.

Or, then again... maybe I should just spend more time watching the ones in my own backyard.  Every day these critters surprise me, after all.  Perhaps that's one of the benefits of moving from the desert to snow country.  If you're not used to something, you can view it with a childlike joy and wonder that a native might not.

Have you ever spent time observing something within the environment that most people seem to pass over?

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