A squirrel's early start collecting acorns could foreshadow a long winter, some say.
A squirrel today in the Greenfields subdivision was raiding our neighbor’s birdfeeder, making off with mouthfuls of sunflower seeds.
And when the birdfeeder is empty, neighbor Sue tells me, the critter headbutts their sliding-glass door, a tacit request for a refill and to be quick about it.
Jon, Sue's husband, tried to shoo away the animal by squirting water at it. That didn't work.
Weeks ago a squirrel started shaking loose acorns from the oak tree in my backyard. It also started chewing apart our pear tree, dropping fruit-bearing branches on the lawn. But the squirrel would eat just a few of the pears and leave the rest.
I had always thought this type of aggressive behavior in squirrels, including nut gathering, didn't start until the leaves started changing colors.
I looked on the Internet and found a YouTube video titled: “Acorn Apocalypse! Hard Winter in Store?”
It was an interview with Peter Geiger, editor of Farmer’s Almanac. He said that you could expect a long and cold winter when squirrels start collecting acorns in early August.
Geiger lives in Maine. During the interview, the camera panned from his face to his backyard deck that was sloppy with fallen acorns. This video, by the way, was taken in August of 2010.
In line with Geiger’s prediction, we here in Cary certainly got iced-in the winter before last. If the acorn factor is correct, we should have another cold, snowy winter.
According to “The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals,” the gray squirrel is out and about all year and it never hides acorns near the oak tree of origin.
It forgets where it buries its acorns and other nuts. So it goes around in a kind of hit-or-miss scratching and sniffing expedition when it gets hungry.
I've heard a saying that if a squirrel didn’t have that bushy tail, we’d be calling it a rat.
But the tail is there for more than just aesthetics. The Audubon Society says a squirrel’s tail serves as an umbrella in rain, a blanket in winter, a rudder when swimming; it gives lift when the squirrel leaps from branch to branch and slows its descent when it falls.