If you’re an avid bird watcher and maintain feeders at your residence, it’s likely your major complaint are feeder robbers. Yes, those grey, furry, bushy-tailed thieves can, in jiffy, wipe out your feeders stocked with sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, corn or bird seed. But oftentimes squirrels can provide hilarious moments as they attempt to figure out how to rob so-called squirrel-proof feeders, and when they perform other antics. And sometimes they even lose their grip and fall.
When sitting 12 feet up in a treestand while bowhunting, I watched in amusement while one squirrel chased another out on a limb that was about 14 feet above ground. The one being chased lost its grip and fell. It hit the ground in a bounce then scampered off, apparently unscathed. They’re Teflon.
When it’s snowing hard with freezing temperatures and ice, you may wonder what these critters do. Well like many of us, we den-up in our residences. For squirrels they snuggle up in their tree nests also called dreys, or in a hollow of a tree provided the hole is no more than three inches in diameter to prevent raccoons and other raiders from dropping in.
Tree nests, that look like a big lump of leaves high up in a tree, are more visible now that trees are void of leaves. Some lazy squirrels find refuge in home attics or exterior walls. Then they become a serious problem, especially if they chew on wires.
But most squirrels inhabit tree nests that are comprised of twigs, dry leaves, grass, moss even paper that they weave together using their feet, mouth and head to bend the twigs. Leaves are gathered before autumn while they’re still green and damp as they’re more pliable and adhere better to each other and the twigs. When the leaves dry and turn brown, they’re more fortified, although a strong wind may blow them apart. The nests are constructed in the fork of a tree and have entrance/exit holes close to the bottom and face the trunk of the tree.
Folks may presume that squirrels merely slip into the leaves like we do under blankets to stay warm. And for them, to ward off rain, snow and wind. But the nests actually have a 6-8-inch diameter hollow opening inside the nest that could be lined with finer materials such as shredded bark, grass, moss, leaves or pine needles. In winter males and females may share the nest to stay warm and also during breeding season that occurs in June and sometimes in January. However, females nest alone when pregnant.
Squirrels may often build more than one nest in a season, in case one is destroyed by a predator or become infested with fleas or lice, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Some nests can be used by several generations or even abandoned after a season of use.
So if your residence has a tree within view with a nest in it, grab a pair of binoculars, sit back and watch this interesting acrobatic busy-tail.
SENATE PASSES SUNDAY HUNTING BAN REPEAL
The Pennsylvania Senate Committee sent Senate Bill 147 to the floor for consideration on repealing the Sunday hunting ban in the state.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the state is only one of two others in the country that doesn’t allow Sunday hunting except for crows, foxes and coyotes. The PGC says this law in antiquated and its prohibition is an old blue law that’s left on the books.
The agency contends that many hunters are prevented from introducing their children or friends to hunting because they’re competing against organized sports and other activities on Saturday. And Sunday hunting would allow an extra day afield to enjoy the hunting heritage. They added that Sunday hunting will invigorate essential hunter recruitment and retention efforts.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is against Sunday hunting and it’s likely Amish and Mennonite farmers would not allow it on their lands as they hold that day as very sacred.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.