National Squirrel Appreciation Day

Yes, it’s that day when we go out of our way to appreciate the little critter that antagonizes me all year long.  But, for one day I suppose I can put it on a pedistal. 

Each morning these furry creatures run across my roof (single story over my bedroom) and wake me up.  They attack my bird feeder daily, eating most of the food I leave for the birds.  I did find an alternate food the birds like and squirrels are supposed to hate but squirrels adapt.  Squirrels dig in my yard.  They put little holes in the grass and garden when they hide or dig up acorns and other things.  They make a horrible screeching noise from high a-top the trees in my neighborhood.  They taunt my dog (a lab with a genetic disposition to hate squirrels), forcing her to bark at them from inside the house and chase after them in the back yard.  Then, safe in a tree the squirrels chatter at her.  If I ever plant seeds straight in the garden (as opposed to starting in the house), the neighborhood squirrels dig them out. 

All of this aside I will say that squirrels are fascinating.  There are over 200 species in the world.  One, the Eastern Grey Squirrel, resides in a nest high in tree next to my house.  I’ve had a lot of time to watch this little family sharing my yard.  I am in awe over how they climb just about anything and jump the distances from one item to another.  They hang from the bird feeder for extended periods…way too long but somehow they don’t feel dizzy from the blood rushing to their heads as I would.  If so they wouldn’t hang so long.

I keep a low bird bath near my bird feeder among the trees and love to see the squirrel visit it.  No I’ve never seen it take a bath as the birds will often do, but the squirrel approaches so hesitantly, crawls close to the ground almost underneath it, then pops it’s head over the rim and takes a drink. 

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to sketch them.  My nature journal is filled with squirrel drawings.  When I lived in Florida we had a squirrel without a tail.  It was quite agile and balanced itself as well as any other squirrel.  I have a drawing of that squirrel. 

They really are cute animals.  They’ve got big eyes and curly tails. They’re fluffy.

If you’d like to celebrate the squirrel today here are several things you can do:

Sketch one in your own backyard for your nature journal or turn it into a painting.  For smaller children there are plenty of free coloring pages on line to print out, color and hang on the refrigerator.

Put a squirrel feeder in your yard.  There are several kinds and the ones I’ve seen are mostly corn cob holders.  I’ve purchased “squirrel food” from the local pecan farmer.  That’s a bag of broken pecans, not suitable for human consumption.  The squirrels in my yard loved them.

Visit your local nature center and learn about the squirrel species in your part of the country.  There are also great DVDs and VHS shows that you can check out from the library to watch at home.  Make some popcorn for yourself and the squirrels.

Take photos of the furry friend.  The Huffington Post is having a PhotoShop Squirrel Picture Competition.  Couldn’t find out what the prize is but check it out and enter your photo.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/21/squirrel-appreciation-day-2012_n_1220089.html

Check out the Squirrel Appreciation Day 2012 Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/203979402982102/.  The date of their day of appreciation  is in July but there are still plenty of cute pictures.

Make a squirrel craft:

Squirrel Craft

Details for this little guy are found here: http://familycrafts.about.com/od/squirrelcrafts/ss/pcsquirrel.htm

 
Craftster.org has pages of squirrel crafts from knitted squirrel pin cushions to paper mache squirrels. 
 
Bake some cookies. You’ll need a squirrel shaped cookie cutter and icing to make your own design but go ahead and make a recipe for you and one for your dog.
 
And for those of you who appreciate squirrels for their tasty nourishment, there are plenty of recipes to choose from so you can have a little variety at dinnertime.  Try this recipe link for Slow Cooked Squirrel: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooked-squirrel/
 
How will I celebrate the day?  Aside from writing about squirrels, I’ll leave out the squirrel coloring pages for children at the Y today and probably do nothing else.  The squirrel family that shares my yard has already woken me up, eaten my bird seed, dug for acorns in the grass and tormented my dog.  I’ve had enough, so I’ll just pretend it’s just another day.
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Squirrels in my backyard

Squirrels are my arch-enemy.  I’m a bird person.  I have bird feeders in my yard which I fill will all kinds of tasty treats for the birds  (my dog likes them too).  I have cardinals, a variety of wrens and finches, chickadees, titmouse, doves, jays, robins, towhees and lots more visiting daily.  They love to come to my feeder and I love to watch them.  

Squirrels love my feeders too.  They come in a pack; there were 4 this morning dining from one feeder.  The birds were talking from their perches in the branches nearby while they waited their turn.  A quick turn of my backdoor knob and the squirrels were off; so was my dog hoping to catch one and teach it a lesson.  “Don’t come into my yard,” would be what she’d say if she could talk.  She’s a Lab and Lab’s love to chase squirrels. 

Oh, I could spend at least $50 on a squirrel guard-type thing for the feeder.  I’ve put on home-made versions of them and these squirrels have decided to jump over them or leap straight from the ground to hang on the bottom of the feeder and then climb up.  We also have so many trees around here that there is virtually no place to put the feeders where a squirrel can’t jump from a tree branch or the roof of my house. 

Anyway, no matter how much the squirrels bother me with regards to the bird feeders I have been watching them with interest.  I have many drawings of them in my nature journal and I’ve been snatching a few photos of them, too.  Here are my favorites: 

Squirrel in a planter

  

Hungry squirrel

  

A good little climber

Gotcha squirrel!

 I’ll try a dedicated squirrel feeder this fall.  Maybe they’ll leave the bird food to the birds.