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FLYING SQUIRRELS

ARE FOR REAL

by Howard L. Greer

Wildlife Diary 2006

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A Robin's Diary

NATURE SERIES - MOVIES

Robin's Nest  2004 

Hummingbird Blog

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Squirrel Story Epilog

Robin's Nest Blog 2005

 

 All Photos and Videos by H.L. Greer -- Initial  background Sound " flying squirrel chatter" recorded at this feeder tree

Most people live their lives only vaguely aware that flying squirrels actually exist. They are perhaps something remembered from adolescence , a text book picture , or even from the Rocky and Bullwinkle TV show. But when you ask the question "have you ever seen a flying squirrel live with your own eyes", at least 90 percent will say no. But they are here , sometimes right in your own backyard.

This is a story about a unusual little animal which I have very recently discovered. Isn't it amazing how sometimes you find something new about your surroundings which may have been there all along, and somehow managed to elude your awareness.

A couple of Springs ago I became acquainted with this animal wonder and have been strangely mesmerized by the implausibility of this adorable little neighbor.

They are after all, hard to believe. You know, like the first time you saw a comet streaking across a clear dark sky, or the first time you saw Old Faithful gushing forth, or the first breathtaking view, standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. That must be it, the feeling that comes with our first personal contact with those wonders that challenge our sense of order and extend our own personal realism to new plateaus.

They don't really fly of course, they sail. But do they ever! They are really smaller than I expected them to be. About chipmunk size. They are strictly nocturnal and my sightings have all been well past dusk. The good news is that they have taken up residence in our back yard, at least for the time being.

We are blessed with an ample number of old stand trees in our back yard, and have a yard swing between two large oaks.

The spring of 1993 had not been a particularly warm one and my wife and I took advantage of the first reasonably balmy evening in early April to test the comfort of the swing beneath the oaks while speculating on the budding trees and emerging grass. The last gray tones of dusk were fading into darkness when my wife detected rustling sounds overhead and asked what it might be. I instinctively replied that it must be a bird . Continued sounds directed our gaze to an area about ten feet up the Oak to our front. When I first detected the movement and then a life form, I thought first ,bird, then bat. It had a face and it was looking at us. It became obvious that it was a fur bearer and it was hanging on the trunk stationary but heading down. Then it flew!

It flew right over us and I was sure it was a bat. We exited the swing as one, reaching the safety of the walk simultaneously. It was here we observed the thing, now on the trunk of the other oak tree. The post lamp provided enough illumination and slowly it became apparent that our little surprise was not a threat. We stood there and watched as he leaped and floated back to the original tree. As we watched we discovered a second one floating from tree to tree. I went for my camcorder. Those little guys obliged us by coming down to eye level on the oak and I was able to record close up within three feet of these airborne miniatures.

The First Contact - The Streaming Video

 

One thing you notice, is that when they leap and spread the web like membrane ,they appear to float. They seem to be able to fly upward and can achieve substantial distance. (Several hundred feet). They seem to defy gravity. I have seen flying fish and they give you the same sensation, that is , it just doesn't look quite right.

It was delightful, to think, that after 57 years, and potentially countless near miss encounters, a wonderful first had occurred for the both of us. (Pleasant firsts, at our time in life, are to be cherished.) We assumed since it took so long for us to see them for the first time, that it would take an equal time to ever encounter them again. We were wrong.

They came night after night , always just at dusk. I put up a squirrel feeder and soon discovered they considered sunflower seeds a delicacy At first there were only two and then as the spring transitioned into summer , we saw three, then four and eventually as many as eight , on the feeder at the same time. We developed a nightly routine. Loading up the feeder just at dusk, then within minutes , watching them "fly" in. It appeared that none actually lived in the feeder tree as they would come sailing in from all directions.

The Nightly Fly-In Streaming Video

 

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Then the first signs of trouble. One night about an hour after the squirrels had been fed, a glance from the window , revealed no squirrels on the feeder. Rather in their place was a masked bandit. The raccoon was devouring the squirrel seeds. It was easy to chase the raccoon away but it always returned within minutes. This soon became the new routine. Feed the squirrels at dusk. Squirrels fly in. Raccoon arrives within the hour and chases the squirrels away from the feeder. Time for action, after all the Mighty Mouse impersonators, were the star attraction.

Raccoons Find the Sunflower Hearts Streaming Video

 How to combat this problem. Easy enough! Out with the "Have A Heart" animal trap. A little sunflower seed in the trap and bingo, the next morning raccoon is in the trap. We transported the raccoon a few miles away to an isolated wooded area complete with running stream.

With such a lovely new home for the raccoon, we thought all parties were winners and the problem solved.-- Wrong again.

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That night the same routine again. Within an hour a raccoon is on the feeder. A dead ringer for the transplanted one. Now the routine begins with the "Have A Heart" trap an integral ingredient.

Next morning raccoon is in the trap and away we go. Same wooded area with running stream. Good-bye number two. Next night , you guessed it, same thing again . Now you have to picture this scene with these large raccoons dominating the small squirrel feeder, and on the other side of the tree these minute pitiful starving little Disney like characters being bullied out of their rightful free meal. It was almost more than a sensitive squirrel nut could take. Right then and there I declared war on the raccoons. A short one it turns out.

At first the daily raccoon relocation runs were novel, but it began to get old. Every day we would haul one away and the next night , the whole routine would play out again. These were different raccoons, had different markings. Bet you were thinking it was the same one cutting a nifty cross country path back to the tree. I began to wear down and finally admitted defeat, when after relocating the sixth raccoon, was shocked to see , on the very next evening, four raccoons on the feeder at the same time. ----Picture that.

Gave up on the relocation deal.

Flying Squirrels Verses Raccoons - The Relocation Project Streaming Video

Strategy number 2.

Take a chance and stop putting out the sunflower seed. The risk was, the squirrels might leave and not return. A risk I had to take.

No feeding for two weeks, and then started again. Much to my delight , the squirrels returned and the raccoons stayed away. At least for a while. Whew!

And so it went for the rest of the summer, to our delight the squirrels continued to come every night. Since I am also a video nut, this nightly rendezvous provided many opportunities to record these little creatures. In fact , they are little hams. I soon discovered that even focusing flood lights on the feeder , had no deterring effect on the willingness of the squirrels to attend the nightly banquet.

Flying Squirrels Having Fun - The Nightly Routine- Streaming Video

By late summer the numbers of our little friends, began to wane, and eventually by autumn were only occasionally spotted. We had no contact through the winter. And what a winter it was, with record snowfall and record low (-22 degree) temperatures.

It was with skeptical anticipation, I began to place a little sunflower seed in the feeder in April of 94. I assumed if they stayed around they would not have survived. Then , much to my delight, noticed the seed began disappearing. Soon we spotted them again and the 1994 Flying Squirrel season became a repeat of the 93 season, complete with the appearance of the raccoon threat.

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Worked out a compromise, this time , fed early and less. The squirrels would show up at dusk and eat most of the seed. The raccoons always showed up about an hour or two later. By this time the squirrels had, had their way, and I no longer attempted to harass the raccoons. This peaceful coexistence became the new routine.

Flying Squirrels have enemies far more intimidating than seed stealing raccoons, however . It seems they are a prime food source for birds of prey. The owls are also nocturnal and have insatiable appetites. At first during the 1994 season, the squirrels were once again plentiful, and as many as 8 or 10 gathered for the nightly feast. Then their numbers began to dwindle and in early summer, one evening we saw an owl just leaving the feeder oak tree. The awful realization of the brutality of life hit home. There was nothing to be done. By mid summer the flying squirrels had disappeared altogether.

Life lessons are always in the curriculum. The squirrels had become to us , almost subconsciously, a piece of the mosaic that makes up the joy in one's existence. Now they were gone. Couldn't completely hate the owl though. The owl, too, is also a piece of the mosaic. Yet , they were missed.

Hope springs eternal; So in early March of this year, I began to leave a few sunflower seeds in the usual place , hoping for a 1995 squirrel season. Each morning I checked to see if any disturbance in the seed mound had occurred before the daytime creatures would have at it.----------And for days -Nothing.

I began to feel that the owls work was through and final. Even thought about removing the feeder from the tree.

And then another Life Lesson--- The amazing resilience of life. Just like the eruption of life from the first crocus and daffodils which were also out of sight, waiting in their dark, subterranean, winter quarters.---- Signs of life.

With great delight, I saw the first one on March 15. Then a few nights later , the second .There are at least four now, once again gliding in to the feeder tree, every night, right on cue, just about dusk.

I don't know if the colony was destroyed or just scattered by that owl last year. No matter, their return is a happy and welcome event. This is the third spring with the flying squirrels in our back yard. They seemed to have survived - competing raccoons, a severe winter, and the preying owl. We will enjoy the gift while we can. Won't be easy though, saw a neighbors cat sitting at the base of the tree last night.

Through the Years the Nightly Visitors - Streaming Video

 

SQUIRREL INFORMATION

Squirrel Story Continued

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Watch the Entire Flying Squirrel Video here.

The Flying Squirrel story in Streaming Video. Requires Windows Media Player and is 10 minutes in length. Should only be accessed if you have a high speed internet connection and a fairly large hard disc. The Video will stream so there should be no long wait period to start watching but during the playing roughly 25 megabytes will be downloaded .

 

 

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The 2008 Robin nest adventure was all set to be another successful hatch to Fledge story. But it was not to be. This one is a bit intense but gives a perspective of nature at its best and worst.

The 2008 Robin Nest Video Production

 

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A new and current Robin nest undertaking  is in progress with four eggs. three of which have hatched as of  May 6, 2007. Click on the picture to go to the 2007 Journal for daily updates and Videos from the nest.

 

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Listen to the Mockingbird Sing

The HowPeg Backyard Wildlife pages will provide digital photos, with sound and/or video recordings of every wildlife species visiting our  grounds. That is the goal anyway and the Mockingbird link here will provide an introduction to the series. This is a labor which probably will never be complete as there is much to do and so little time to do it. The Mockingbird page will also provide links to our other pages in this series.

 

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2006 Backyard Wildlife in Review.

Feathered, Furred , and whatever those insects are. Hairy maybe- At any rate a video look at some of the other life forms we have shared our space with in the year 2006.   The Video will stream so there should be no long wait period to start watching but during the playing roughly 8 megabytes will be downloaded .

 

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Coosa River Owl Sushi

Lee and Julie Greer fish for Stripers on the Coosa and Etowah Rivers in North Georgia, and regularly feed the Barred Owls some of their bait fish.  In this Video the Parent owl delivers a fish to one of the young ones who seems to  wait for the command to devour it. Then for a little fun, a little extra edit at the end.  Be sure your sound is on for this effect. This Short Video will Explain. It will Stream and about 10  megabytes will be downloaded .

Barred Owl Sushi

 

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2005 Robin BLOG Video

Three hatchlings Approach the time to leave their nest home and enter the world which awaits them just outside the holly home  Should only be accessed if you have a high speed internet connection and a fairly large hard disc. The Videos  will stream so there should be no long wait period to start watching but during the playing 36 megabytes will be downloaded . A video for each day showing the progress from hatch to fledge can be seen at

Robin's Nest Blog 2005

 

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Squirrel Talk

Rattles, grunts, Squeals and barking -- Gray squirrels communicate in many voices. Should only be accessed if you have a high speed internet connection and a fairly large hard disc. The Videos  will stream so there should be no long wait period to start watching but during the playing 11 megabytes will be downloaded .

 

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A Night at the Feeder

A typical Summer Evening at the Feeder The Video will stream so there should be no long wait period to start watching but during the playing roughly 15  megabytes will be downloaded .

 

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Robin Hordes invade the Holly Berries

Most of us think of Robins as somewhat  solitary birds usually seen on green lawns in the Spring and Summer looking for worms and perhaps  watching three or four Robin Fledglings following the Male parent around learning how to fend for themselves. In the Winter it is a different story as they sometimes gather in great flocks and become ravenous feeders of berries. The Holly berries appear to be just right for them every February and this year was no exception. Here hundreds of hungry Robins  strip all of the berries in our neighborhood Hollies within minutes

No long wait period to start watching but during the playing roughly  50 megabytes  will be downloaded .

 

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The Serpent and the Robin Nest

In Nature the battle for survival is never ending. This video of the 2004 Robin Nest saga demonstrates just how perilous the task of renewal is for the nest builders. This one is not for the squeamish and perhaps best reviewed

No long wait period to start watching but during the playing roughly  50 megabytes  will be downloaded .

 

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More Nature Streaming Videos

More Streaming videos from  the critter  world

 

More Streaming Videos

Robin's Nest Blog 2005

 

Wildlife visiting our Louisville Kentucky Backyard

scroll and click for each bird or animal video, sound and or picture

Backyard Wildlife Directory

Current Time and Temperature in Louisville

Check out these additional pages

A few neighborhood friends

Flying Squirrel Page A Robin's Diary Critter Cam Wildlife Video Clips
       
Robin's Nest Blog 2005 HowPeg Nature Page 2004 Robin's Nest Backyard Bird Directory
       
 Flying Squirrel Broad Band Nature  Streaming Videos NATURE - Mini  MOVIES More Streaming Videos
       
HowPeg Hummingbird Page 2006 Wildlife Diary Robin's Nest  2006 Song Sparrow Nest 2006
       
  2007 Wildlife Journal    

Note: unless otherwise specified ,all media content on these Backyard Wildlife pages were recorded and or photographed by HowPeg   for the purpose of sharing them intact with the web pages as presented. As such they are copyright protected . Permission to use for educational purposes will not be withheld if request include appropriate planned application . Such request can be made via the following link

 

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