It has been awhile since I posted on my extended squirrel family from Ottawa, so here is a quick re-cap. My guide to the squirrel mob is Spikey. His love interest is Loonie while his nemesis is Speedy. Spikey and Loonie came up with their own little mob with daughters, Goldie and Blondie.
Today, I want to introduce you to a squirrel which I named Sneaky on account of his slightly longer snout and beady eyes which makes him look ……well, sneaky. I cannot, of course, be sure but I think Sneaky is related to Spikey in some way; perhaps a younger sibling. I first saw him one early spring day tagging along with Spikey as he came by my little garden. While Spikey came near to do his regular routine of dance and begging for a handout of peanuts from me, Sneaky positioned himself some distance away and seemed to take in Spikey’s smooching routine but showing no inclination to follow suit. Despite seeing Spikey’s success at getting peanuts, Sneaky soon lost interest and wandered off to a nearby bird feeder which he proceeded to raid.
Sneaky never ever came by for a handout. I got the impression that begging and handouts was just not his scene. He would only do what respectable squirrels have done for generations ……steal from bird feeders.
One spring morning, I observed as Sneaky came by with the two young girls, Goldie and Loonie. The girls were born that spring and were still finding there way around the outside world. Just a couple of weeks earlier, the girls came across the wooden deck where I would place some nuts for the squirrels. This was their first exposure to the wooden deck and they treated it with suspicion. They would dig their feet into the dirt at the edge of the deck and arch their bodies over to take the nuts, taking great care to ensure their bodies do not touch the unfamiliar wooden surface.
Anyway, it was clear that Sneaky seemed to be on baby-sitting duty with the girls and had taken it on himself to introduce them to the bird feeder. Initially, the girls followed him closely until they reached a small bush adjacent to where the bird feeder hung on a long chain from the roof of the house. All three squirrels climbed into the bush.
Sneaky started to cause the bush to sway. As the bush swayed to and fro, the branch on which Sneaky was on was inching closer to the bird feeder. The girls appeared dutifully attentive. With one final effort, Sneaky sprung his coiled body when the branch was close to the feeder and was able to grab hold of it. There he was, holding on to the feeder with his front paws while his feet remained gripping the branch of the bush. While holding this position, he started to chitter at the girls. It seemed clear to me that he wanted the girls to cross over to the feeder while he held it in place for them.
Unfortunately, when Sneaky grabbed the feeder, he inadvertently knocked off some seeds on to the ground below. Instead of crossing on to the feeder, the two girls clambered down the bush and started feasting on the seeds on the ground. Sneaky chittered some more but the girls ignored him.
So for several precious moments, I had a view of this increasingly agitated squirrel stretched between the bush and the feeder chittering at the two younger squirrels who were feeding on the seeds on the ground. After the girls had finished eating their fallen bounty, they just lopped off and disappeared into the distance. All this while, Sneaky was still holding on and chittering but when the girls disappeared from sight, he became silence.
He hung on for a few seconds more. He blinked his beady eyes a couple of times and then must have realised his peculiar position and after awhile, he released his hold on the bush and swung on to the bird feeder. He appeared a little disconcerted that the girls showed little regard to the art of bird feeder raiding. He paused for a moment and seemed to fluff up his fur as he sat there in the warm spring sun. Then with a shake of the head, he dismissed the girls and proceeded to eat his stolen bounty at the bird feeder.
I never again saw him try to teach the girls how to raid the feeder. Nor did I see him ever take any of my handouts. Sneaky had no problems with the other squirrels taking the handouts but it was not for him. He prefered the honor and excitement of stealing for a living.