…by squirrels and thrushes having their fun.
The bird seed had clearly been going down at night, and I surmised we still had quite a bit of flying squirrel activity. So as long as I was up late last night, I sat reading by the open kitchen window to see what was happening. We feed birds all year, and they had been very active during the day, with young Common Redpolls, Dark-eyed Juncos, Hairy Woodpeckers, and American Robins – and their parents – all coming in to eat, drink, and (some) bathe.
Just after midnight, something landed in the tree. It was dark enough outside that it was hard to make it out, until it began climbing down and I could see that it was a squirrel. Then another one popped up on the window sill and looked at me through the screen, just inches away. Northern flying squirrels. Beautiful soft fur and big, dark eyes.
They were both after the bird seed, but why they chose to come at the same time was puzzling because neither was willing to share. And so began twenty minutes of scratchy squirrel chases as they jockeyed for position. Up and down the side of the house, up the window screen, around the open window, flying out into the yard, then up and down the tree and flying back onto the deck. All incredibly rapid and all silent but for the scratching of their claws.
One of the squirrels was a grizzled older animal with just half a tail. I wonder if these guys bite off the tails of their enemies during their nocturnal squirrel ninja battles. (Yes, I am thinking of our earlier mystery.) The speed is incredible. They flash-glide and tear up and down and twist and leap like no other animal I’ve seen. It was nice to have the crepuscular solstice light available to watch it. And the soundtrack to the silent action was spectacular: a singing Swainson’s Thrush.
It was too dark (and the squirrels too fast) for me to take any pictures, so I grabbed a few random shots off of the internet. And in that search I learned that I am not the only one thinking of these squirrels as little fighters…
And, just so we have all the players illustrated: