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Urban Wildlife - Critters who taunt George - Meet Nutty | Environment

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Urban Wildlife - Critters who taunt George - Meet Nutty
Urban Wildlife - Critters who taunt George - Meet Nutty

George is one of the most good-natured dogs you will ever meet.  I feel bad for him when “Nutty” and his squirrelly friends taunt him.  I think they realize they are safe around George since he is not very fast on his feet.  We have two types of squirrels living in our backyard: several Fox Squirrels and one American Red Squirrel.

Fox Squirrels are the largest squirrels in Michigan.  They are sometimes confused with the slightly smaller Eastern Gray Squirrel.  The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is Fox Squirrels have reddish-orange bellies, while their cousins, the Gray Squirrels, have white bellies. The Red Squirrels are much smaller.

It’s the Fox Squirrels, especially Nutty, who like to taunt our George. 

What does a taunt look like?  Imagine a bushy tail flicking at you, not once but many times.  Fox Squirrels have a team defensive system, which involves distracting possible predators by surrounding them and vigorously shaking their tails, which I call flicking.  When George goes for a walk around his backyard kingdom, Nutty and his friends will sit in branches above him and flick their tails at him.

Oh, that’s not the only way Nutty taunts him.  Nutty likes to sit on our frog lawn ornament.  I must admit it’s a cute image.  Nutty sits on top of the frog and looks like he owns the place.  But what really drives George nuts is when Nutty and his friends start stealing seeds from the main bird feeder. 

We throw critter food on the ground, so George and I don’t understand why Nutty climbs up to the bird feeder.  Greener pastures?  We spent good money on two types of baffles for the bird feeder, neither of which work. 

Nutty and friends will often bury their food near the surface of the ground.  During the winter when food is scarce, they will use their sense of smell to find their stash of food.

The one squirrel that leaves George alone is “Freddie”, the Red Squirrel.  One day my husband was watching Freddie, when Hawkeye, the Cooper’s Hawk, swooped down toward him.  Freddie was on the trunk of a tree and spotted Hawkeye circling the tree and swooping down toward him.  Freddie also circled the tree and made sure he was always on the opposite side away from the hawk.  Hawkeye finally gave up and left.

Next Sunday, we head to Lake Michigan to meet birds of a different kind.

If you missed reading about the antics of the other critters in our backyard, click on this link: