Friday, February 12, 2016

Safer Red Squirrel Feeding

We have a small population of red squirrels.  Last year a nursing female was killed on the road in front of our house.  We were all horrified.  We didn't know where this female was hiding her babies.  Our only hope was that the babies were old enough to fend for themselves.

The squirrels have returned to our part of the world and have been helping themselves to food at the squirrel feeder and bird feeders.  One squirrel became two squirrels visiting.  I identified a male and female squirrel.  With the hope of romance in the air, there will be little squirrels later on in the spring.

Not wishing a repeat of last year's road accident, I have moved the squirrel feeder across the road into the trees.  This means that I won't see them as often as I don't look out the windows that face the trees very often but it isn't about me.  It's about helping the squirrels.
new location for old squirrel feeder

I have also added a second squirrel feeder.  If there are going to be babies, we're going to need more food! The food that was put in is a mix of corn (maize) sunflower seeds and peanuts.
New and larger squirrel feeder

Checking the feeders yesterday, there was evidence that the feeders have been visited.  One of the feeders had all the peanuts and half the sunflowers carefully picked out.  The squirrels had started picking through the second box as well.  It seems that red squirrels prefer peanuts to maize and black sunflower seeds.

I pulled out the remaining maize from the smaller squirrel feeder and refilled it with whole hazelnuts in the shell.  I have a small stock of hazelnuts in from Christmas.

As of this afternoon, the hazelnuts are gone!  I watched them get removed one by one.  There was no stopping to nibble on a nut.

The new squirrel feeder is larger.  It turns out that a red squirrel can fit inside it quite easily!
red squirrel inside the feeder
There are no hazelnuts in the large feeder.  The squirrels are just going to have to eat the maize.

I am hoping that this is the year that I get to see baby squirrels. . . .but the hitch in this plan is that most of the spruce trees across the road are due to be harvested this spring.