Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Finally! Squirrel Feeding Made Easy!

Introducing the Squirrel Power Bird & Wildlife Feeder™ (Patent Pending) by Kaspar Wire Works: the one-of-a-kind wildlife feeder that is your ticket to a front row seat for wildlife observation.
Assembly is easy, and a great activity for young and old alike.
Once constructed, this sturdy feeder is mounted to a tree or stand where squirrels, birds, and a variety of other wildlife become accustomed to its presence.

Training the animals to operate the feeder is simple too. By following the detailed instructions that comes with the Squirrel Power Bird & Wildlife Feeder™ * you will have your animal stars catching on in no time. Imagine the fun that your family will have training and observing wildlife in its natural habitat.

As any outdoorsman will tell you, an appreciation of nature is something that is developed early and stays with a person throughout his/her life. What better way to learn about how animals feed and interact with one another than through firsthand observation.

To find out more about The Kaspar Wire Works Squirrel Power Bird & Wildlife Feeder™ *, please contact us by calling 800-337-0610.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Don't Eat the Squirrels

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey is warning residents to limit their consumption of squirrels killed near a toxic waste dump.

Many residents of Ringwood are members of an Indian tribe who hunt and fish in the area.

A squirrel contaminated with lead was found there two months ago.

State officials sent out letters advising that adults who eat squirrels should eat no more than two a week, children and pregnant women are told to eat even fewer.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Smart Squirrels

Study: squirrels over spruces in evolutionary race
Matthew Miller
Lansing State Journal
January 18, 2007

In the evolutionary arms race between squirrel and spruce tree, scientists once thought trees had the upper hand.
But it turns out that the squirrels are no chumps.

That's according to a new study by Michigan State University professor Andrew McAdam and a team of international scientists, published in the Dec. 22 edition of Science.AdvertisementSpruce trees have evolved a sophisticated strategy for protecting their seeds from fluffy-tailed predators.The phenomenon is called "masting." Most years, the trees will produce only a few cones, starving the squirrels and giving themselves an evolutionary leg up.Then, unpredictably (to human scientists, anyway), every spruce tree in a given area will produce a bumper crop, too many for the squirrel population to gobble up in a single season.But McAdam and the other researchers, who looked at nearly two decades' worth of data on American red squirrels in the Yukon, found the squirrels are not so easily outwitted.They have learned to predict these bumper crops and respond by having a second litter of pups in those years."What people used to think is that the squirrels and the other seed predators were just sort of following along and being taken advantage of by this clever strategy on the part of the trees," McAdam said."What we've documented here is evidence that the squirrels have evolved a counterstrategy."
'Real-time' evolution
McAdam, a professor in the departments of Zoology and Fisheries and Wildlife, is interested in how evolution happens in "real time," not over millennia, but over decades.And what he and his colleagues have found is that squirrels produce their extra litters not when they can, but when it makes good evolutionary sense.McAdam and his colleagues tried providing squirrels with extra food to see if they could induce them to produce second litters. They couldn't.That, he said, is because it's not a question of the mothers having enough food to produce more offspring, but a question of the young squirrels' chances of survival down the road."The short story is the offspring survive much, much better when they're produced in one of these bumper food years, and they survive very poorly in the years following the bumper food years," he said.Extra food in a year without a bumper crop of cones might allow a female squirrel to "produce lots and lots of pups," he said, "but they have nowhere to go."
'Extremely exciting'
John Koprowski is a professor of wildlife conservation and management at the University of Arizona and directs efforts to monitor and recover the federally endangered Mt. Graham red squirrel.He called McAdam's finding "extremely exciting.""The complex co-evolutionary relationship that the ... research team uncovers between squirrels and their major food source once again demonstrates the incredible amount of interaction and interdependence between component members of our forests," he said.He added that the study also "points towards our need to fully understand the complexities of the ecosystems that we endeavor to manage and conserve."
Not 'passive players'
McAdam and his colleagues still don't know how the squirrels know when the trees will produce extra cones.They could be getting hormonal cues by feeding on the trees' buds, he said.They could have learned to decode whatever the cue is that allows trees to synchronize their increased cone production.But the simple fact that they know is significant enough."The important message," McAdam said, "is that the squirrels and presumably other seed predators are not just passive players in this game."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ode to Squirrel

Squirrels try to find food
Make life for self in city
Say "I'm people too! I can do that! I go to work too!"
Then fall from trees
Get hit by cars

People-land no place for good guy Squirrels.

Scientist Examines City Squirrels' Lives

Associated Press
December 11, 2006
By DON BABWIN - Squirrels hit the genetic lottery with their chubby cheeks and bushy tails. It's hard to imagine picnickers tossing peanuts and cookies at the rodents if they looked like rats.

But good looks alone don't get you through Chicago winters. Nor do they help negotiate a treacherous landscape of hungry cats, cars and metal traps.
So how do they do it? And why do they search, huddle, dart, and sometimes forget where they hid their nuts?

Joel Brown aims to find out.

'We're trying to get a glimpse of what your life is like if you are a city squirrel,' said Brown, a biologist at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

He and a team of students will trap squirrels in Chicago and its suburbs this winter, taking skin samples for DNA analysis. They'll strap collars on them and watch what they do. And they'll attach threads to acorns and hazelnuts, then see where the squirrels take them and when they eat them.

While the methods aren't unlike those used to study animals in exotic lands, little attention has been paid to those in human neighborhoods. It is, after all, a lot sexier to track gorillas in Africa than a squirrel on Main Street.

'Our appreciation is least in our own backyard,' said Brown, who is part of a small brethren of scientists around the country who've made it their business to figure out how squirrels go about theirs.

What they've discovered is that the critters are downright crafty.

Start with their attitude toward other squirrels' food. They want it and won't hesitate to steal it.
To ward off thieves, squirrels engage in a shell game: They go through the motions of digging and pretending to jam acorns into the ground, even smoothing out the grass to make it appear as if they're covering their hiding spot, before running off with the acorns still in their mouths.
'What possible purpose could that be for other than fake out somebody watching them bury it?' said Peter Smallwood, a University of Richmond biologist.

Squirrels figure out how to outsmart devices designed to keep them away from food - something naturalist Howard Youth learned the hard way. Squirrels broke into four types of bird feeders in his Maryland yard before he found one that they couldn't penetrate. So far.

'They will try something new and eventually, if one gets it, the other ones will notice and they will figure out a way to thwart the bird feeder,' Youth said.

Brown hopes to get into his subjects' little heads. One way is by setting out hazelnuts that have been shelled alongside those that haven't.

'If they pick hazelnuts with shells it means they're looking more toward the future and not in need of food right now,' he said. If they pick shelled hazelnuts, 'it means they're living paycheck to paycheck.'

Squirrels know the difference between acorns that can be stored for a long period and those that can't. If they only have access to those that can't, 'they will scrape out the tiny embryo and that kills the seed (so) it stores well,' said Michael Steele, a wildlife biologist at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania.

But squirrels have their shortcomings.

Sometimes they forget where they buried their nuts, although Brown said their sensitive noses allow them to sniff out ones hidden by their neighbors.

And while someone once swore to Brown that squirrels look both ways before crossing the street, they're apparently looking for something other than cars.

Robert McCleery, who completed his dissertation at Texas A&M on urban and suburban squirrels, outfitted squirrels with radio transmitter collars and found that 80 percent of them died under the tires of a car or truck.

Still, who cares about squirrel habits besides a small band of scientists?

Lots of people.

Search for 'squirrels' on the Internet and Web sites like 'Squirrel Lover's Club' and 'Scary Squirrel World' pop up. There are sites that allow readers to comment on stories like the one from Russia about a 'pack of furious squirrels' that reportedly tore a dog to pieces.

Another site, 'The Campus Squirrel Listings,' judges colleges by their squirrel populations. The U.S. Naval Academy and the University of California, Berkeley, are among the top schools.

None of this squirrel fascination surprises Brown.

'They are the clowns in your backyard,' he said.

Note: The following link, mentioned in the preceding story, is the best site ever. Not just as a site about Squirrels, but as a site about anything--The Best Ever.


Squirrel Diversity

One of the first things I noticed upon moving to Minneapolis was the diversity--among the Squirrel population. There are gray Squirrels here, and black Squirrels and even several white (albino) Squirrels. My hometown of Sioux Falls, SD (squirrel town, South Dakota, we call it), has only brown Squirrels, as far as I can tell. That's one of the nice things about larger cities, generally speaking--they have a much more integrated population of varying races of Squirrel.

I sort of invited a real fat one over for Christmas dinner and dressed him in a little Santa outfit. My family lives in Sioux Falls, and they don't visit much for whatever reason, so I get a little lonely up here. So, we sat down for some Christmas dinner--this Santa Squirrel and I--and I had some turkey, fixed us a couple rum and ciders and I didn't really have any walnuts or anything, and Squirrels don't eat meat. So this fella didn't want any turkey, which was sort of rude. I don't know if the general population is aware of that, but Squirrels don't generally hunt anything--they forage. Which is something I'm working on with the NUTS (National Unification of Team Squirrel) foundation--our grassroots campaign headquartered here in Minneapolis...actually headquartered in my living room...and I've been having trouble with attendance. Squirrels aren't very reliable--I don't know if the general population knows that.

We're trying to get them to be a little more aggressive, rather than just looking for stuff and taking whatever they find, you know--that's not good politics for anyone. For now I just sort of lure them into the meetings with a trail of peanuts or sunflower seeds or whatever.

Anyway, so I fixed this Santa Squirrel a plate of Peanut Butter...and that didn't turn out so well...his beard got all gummed-up and he kept scratching at himself, you know how Squirrels do that, especially ones in Santa suits. But it was like he had OCD or something, like a hummingbird and this peanut butter was getting all over the suit and his fur...his table manners left a little to be desired to say the least...and this was before he got a good taste of the rum...things really went down hill from there and I sort of had to ask him to leave, because he was offending me.

Squirrel Conspiracy (aka: 'Squirrelspiracy')

Dear Friends,
Some years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor in South Dakota's Argus Leader. The letter regarded what I then perceived as an imminent threat to Sioux Falls' integrity as a city; namely, that a Squirrel had, through self-sacrifice, electrocuted himself by diving headlong into a substation or some such thing. The result was that power was lost in about 7000 homes. To my surprise, they printed the letter (in an abbreviated, less dire form). In it, I argued that treating Squirrels as people only encouraged them to act more and more like people, an extrapolation of the concept would naturally result in Squirrels attempting a coup of the city government, I argued. Few heeded my calls.

Several days ago, a squirrel in Roseville, MN did the same thing, though under slightly different circumstances. Therefore, I've revised said letter to issue the warning once again. However, in doing so I met with a few questions unique to our times. For starters, I characterized the Squirrel as a "suicide" squirrel testing our defenses for the good of the whole (worldwide squirrel organization).

Obviously, times have changed. I began to think "Maybe I shouldn't write this? People might read into it as some sort of commentary on the current terror campaign, or suicide bombers in Iraq. What about being sensitive to September 11?" It struck me that my own good humor was being thwarted in the name of some nebulous threat meant to ensnare an already fearful populace, becoming ever more fearful. With the realization, I pressed on, and sent the following to the Pioneer Press--it remains to be seen whether they'll print the shit.

The story in question appeared as thus:
Saint Paul Pioneer Press: A rather "industrious" squirrel rummaging around a Roseville substation caused an electricity outage Saturday afternoon that left 2,422 customers without juice for less than an hour, Xcel Energy said.

The 2:09 p.m. outage was centered in Rosedale Center mall, affecting some businesses, such as J.C. Penney and Don Pablo's restaurant, but not others, such as Macy's, according to officials with the utility, the mall and stores.

No serious incidents were reported, police said, and the mall stayed open. Power was restored 39 minutes later, said Xcel spokesman Paul Adelmann, who said squirrels often cause outages.

"This squirrel was probably doing what squirrels do this time of year: look for nuts," he said.
"We do our best to put in animal-proof equipment, but they always seem to get where they're not supposed to be. They can be industrious, and I suspect this one was."

The squirrel, which caused a short that tripped several circuit breakers, probably didn't survive the jolt, he said.

The Letter to the Editor, entitled: Nuts!
As quoted in the Pioneer Press on Monday, October 16: "A rather 'industrious' squirrel rummaging around a Roseville substation caused an electricity outage Saturday afternoon that left 2,422 customers without juice..."

This so called 'industrious' squirrel took power from Rosedale residents by "falling" into an Xcel Energy substation, causing a short. But to think of the incident as merely a rogue squirrel is fallacy at best, and a threat to national security and our very livelihoods as citizens at worst. There are thousands of squirrels in the Twin Cities area, and our dependence upon this precious electricity the scoundrel interrupted is never so clear as when we must live, even briefly, without. We straddle a thin line connecting us to the so called "grid"--a line more easily walked by the nimble squirrel, but just as simply severed by a purposeful misstep. Don't take the death of this squirrel as a mere metaphor of life...for it was no ordinary death, but a willful testing of our defenses before power is taken en masse, with implications beyond mere energy security.

An Xcel spokesman was quoted as saying "This squirrel was probably doing what squirrels do this time of year: look for nuts." I say, that line of thought is what is nuts, and it's a treacherous road to travel. Squirrels can get into anything, and disrupting our energy supply is a mere inkling of what is to come. The squirrels of this town are plotting against our very freedom as Americans! And so I issue a dire warning: Before the spring comes to pass, the squirrels will take power from the citizenry and our government. Never mind November 7, for all are lame ducks in the face of foul rodents.

I don't know why I issue this warning now. It is already too late. The squirrels have the trees and power lines secured; the higher ground is theirs. They've been watching us for years, and know our habits well. So you may heed my warning, and perhaps save yourself by expatriating to Canada, where the threat has not yet--not yet--sufficiently materialized, but know this: when the squirrels take power, let there be no doubt whose side I will take. All hail the new reign of terror, the squirrel people are upon us!

Note by author: A slightly abbreviated version actually appeared in the newspaper, which serves a region with millions of readers/residents. The masses have been warned.

Squirrels in Sports

Squirrels Hate the Mail!

Letter carrier attacked by squirrel

Associated Press
Last update: November 02, 2006 – 10:32 AM

OIL CITY, Pa. — Barb Dougherty, a 30-year Postal Service employee, said she was attacked and bitten Monday by a squirrel while delivering mail in Oil City, about 75 miles north of Pittsburgh.

"It was a freak thing. It was traumatic,'' Dougherty told The Derrick newspaper. "I saw it there on the porch, put the mail in the box and turned to walk away and it jumped on me.''

She said the animal ran up her leg and onto her back.

"I eventually got a hold of the tail and pulled it off me,'' Dougherty said. "No one was home at the house where I was delivering the mail, but the neighbor lady heard me screaming and came over.''

An ambulance took Dougherty to a hospital, where she was treated for cuts and scratches. The squirrel was killed with a BB gun and sent to a lab to be tested for rabies. Dougherty was given the first series of rabies shots as a precaution.

Postal officials said the attack is extraordinary.

"In about 230 years of postal history, I bet it is not the first, but I've personally never heard of another squirrel biting,'' said Steve Kochersperger, spokesman for the Erie district.

Squirrels in the Police Logs


At 10:28 a.m. a caller from the 100 block of Park Avenue reported she found a dead squirrel covered in mustard in her mailbox. Caller requested a log entry only.

Flick some nuts!

Here's a nice squirrel game to czech out


The goal is to flick as many nuts into the goal as possible.


Squirrel OK after fiery chimney surprise

Associated Press

TWO RIVERS, Wis. - One squirrel got a fiery surprise when it apparently got curious about a chimney. The squirrel fell down a chimney at a Two Rivers home and landed in a fire in a fireplace Monday night, said Two Rivers Assistant Fire Chief Gary Shavlik.

The squirrel escaped the fire and ran around the house, Shavlik said.

Firefighters later caught it and called Wildlife of Wisconsin, an agency that helps wild animals. The squirrel suffered from bloody paws.

There was no fire damage and the squirrel is alive, Shavlik said.

Squirrels as food

Until recent times, squirrel meat was considered a favored meat in certain regions of the United States where it can be listed as wild game. This is evidenced by extensive recipes for its preparation found in cookbooks including The Joy of Cooking. Squirrel meat can easily be exchanged for rabbit or chicken in recipes. Its light red or pink flesh has only a slight game taste. In many areas of the US, particularly areas of the American South, squirrels are hunted for food. It is a common misconception that squirrels are hunted for food by depressed regions of the United States, as it is considered a delicacy in certain cultural cuisines.

source wikipedia