Will spring EVER come? A week ago Monday I was basking in 70 degrees F; today it's threatening snow, and will be in the 30's all week. Sigh. After our brief week of warm weather (2 weeks ago), though, all of the snow and ice have melted from my yard, YAH! And the sump pump, which had kicked in two weeks ago Sunday, finally stopped its non-stop running five days later. It has cycled on only a few times since, so I know the ground has dried out after the foot and 1/2 of snow melted from the front lawn!
Now all the lawn services are going around door to door in the neighborhood trying to drum up business. They do NOT understand the meaning of N-O!
As you know, I'm a squirrel nut. I feed an entire tribe of them all year round. About a month ago, on a very sunny but bitterly cold day, two small squirrels showed up in my backyard. I could tell they were not regulars of the tribe because they were very thin and scrawny looking, and both of their tails were rather bedraggled. My heart immediately went out to both of them. I stood at my patio door and watched as they searched for food. One could barely move and was either very sick or injured, although I could not see exactly where or what its injury may have been; I thought perhaps it had the "tipping" disease -- that's what I call it -- I think it is a brain disease that affects a squirrel's balance; the other squirrel passed right by hazelnuts and peanuts, as if it couldn't see them. And then it dawned on me after watching for awhile, that little squirrel could NOT see. It was blind!
I very carefully opened up the patio door and rolled more nuts out, trying to get them as close to the newcomers as possible. The blind squirrel walked right over some of them, but once I hit in in the rump with a hazelnut he turned and was able to find the nut! My other, healthy fat squirrels tolerated their presence; normally the healthy squirrels will chase each other away if it looks like one is getting too greedy with the nuts or is attempting to move into the territory.
I had not seen a blind squirrel before -- could not even imagine that such a thing was possible -- how could a blind squirrel possibly survive in the wild? He actually got close enough to me, barely a foot away as I was kneeling down at the patio door attempting to roll nuts into its little paws, and I could see that its right eye was white-opaque -- maybe a cataract, maybe blind in that eye from birth? No way for me know. I named him Blinky, for it appeared that the right eyelid would droop over the blind eye as Blinky ate.
The other little squirrel that was either sick or injured (or both), did not come close enough for me to get a good look, but after about 10 days I was able to get some photos of him as he visited the yard and rummaged for peanuts (his preferred food over hazelnuts) and sunflower seeds:
The photo above was taken on March 12th, when the thaw was in progress (that's my back patio -- it was a mess). You can see the little one's injured left shoulder, the matted fur, and the wizened left leg and paw, but he has become chubby thanks to my food supply! I named him Intrepid, Treppy for short. It's just amazing to me that an animal could survive such a severe injury; how intrepid this little fellow must be. You are not able to see it in this photo but I could see where his skin has been torn open/pierced and the remains of dried blood -- along with the matted fur, I believe his shoulder/leg muscles were severely injured and he will be permanently crippled.
Over the next days Treppy and Blinky visited often. They may have come every day, but I did not see them every day. Slowly but surely, they got plumper, and Treppy is now moving around much more like a normal squirrel, and can climb trees and the fences.
Here is a photo of Treppy taken about March 17th:
He maneuvers on his hind legs and his right front leg; you can see in the photo above that he keeps his left leg in the air, but when he has to move in a hurry it goes down and he scrambles away as fast as any other squirrel! The injured area looks much improved from its condition in the March 12th photo.
I have not seen Treppy since the photo above, and I'm worried.
Today Blinky paid a visit and I was so happy to see him again! While Treppy is very leery of me and my camera, Blinky would come right into the house if I held the door open for him, LOL! Blinky is looking healthy, except for his blind right eye. I tried getting several photos of him, but my hands have the shakes today so most of the photos turned out too blurry to see much of anything. In the photo below (which is on maximum zoom on my ancient camera), you can sort of see his white eye as he sits atop the fence near my garage, happily nibbling away on a hazelnut:
He (she?) is not quite as chubby as Treppy but is in much better condition now than the first time I saw him. It seems he doesn't like being around the other squirrels, so he comes during non-rush hours (rush hours are sunrise to 8:30 and between 3-6 in the evening). He still has difficulty finding the nuts but he must have vision in his left eye, else I cannot imagine how he would be able to survive. This morning I spotted him sitting on top of the garage and I was relieved, for I had not seen him in several days.
I opened the patio door, and Blinky stood up. He didn't turn his head, though, he just kept his blind eye toward me -- could he possibly see something out of it? I tossed some nuts out -- and I could tell he instantly heard them hit the concrete patio. He came scrambling down the roof, jumped to the fence, and down to the patio and started searching; I rolled a few nuts to him -- it's like playing bocce ball with hazelnuts, LOL! Up into his little paws -- how do they hold a nut and climb at the same time? Up to the top of the fence, then he cracked open the hard hazelnut shell with his teeth. He ate four nuts, then disappeared toward the southeast over the garage roof.
I hope I see Treppy and Blinky again.
July 16, 2017:
Hola! Where does the time go, Geez Louise! Half summer is already gone, and I am first now updating this from last December, tsk tsk. Bad Jan! So, been busy puttering around the yard, as always, and paying more attention than I probably should be to politics. The kitchen "remodel" is on hold due to budgetary constraints, but I hope to have that remedied before the end of the year. And I have yet to paint the guest room - it's only been 3 years now since I moved in to this version of Maison Newton, I'm not lazy or anything, nope... LOL! Take care and have a great rest of the summer. Jan