Gray squirrels have never been endangered at our place. Far from it. We look out the window in the morning to see six or ten of them in a row eating the corn we've thrown out for the deer and turkeys, and two or three hanging out on the deck, as well as a few under the bird feeders. They are so abundant that we pay scant attention to them, except when they chew on the deck, or dig up our newly planted bedding plants, or trash the bird feeder.
A little over a week ago, we saw a red squirrel, the first we've seen here in about six years. They're larger than the grays, and somewhat slower, and Don says they're dumber, too. In the old days, when Don used to hunt squirrels, he was in a tree stand when a red squirrel came up to him, put it's small front paw on Don's boot, and looked up at his face. That was the last time Don hunted red squirrels. Don says he didn't have the heart to hunt something that clueless, it didn't seem sporting, but I suspect that the little creature's trusting move got under one tough hunter's skin. The other day when I was about to chase Red out of the bird feeder, Don said, "this one gets a free pass". Wonders never cease.
A few days later, there were two of them. Now I've seen three at one time (don't tell Don), and who knows if there are more?
While the red squirrel honeymoon is still upon us, we're enjoying their antics. When I stepped outside yesterday, one of them ran a short distance up a tree, then turned around and started down. Halfway down the tree, it paused with its paw in the air, like an inchworm, flailing to find where to take its next step.
We went to visit some friends today, just west of here, and we saw a couple of red squirrels standing by the side of the road, shouldering tiny backpacks, their thumbs out, and a little sign that said "Smiley's place".
They're pushing it.