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Restocking the larder...

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When I moved in last September, I had a large box of bird feeders, which sat for a time in the covered passage between the house and garage. The snap freeze in early November, coupled with all the other tasks associated with the move, prevented me from installing the feeders then, so I put the box in the [former] chicken coop, which I had converted to storage.

A red squirrel was nesting in the area under the coop roof, where lumber was stored. Over the winter, I used to see him bringing walnuts, and an occasional acorn, from his stash at the end of the stone wall in the barnyard, where there happens to now be a Black Walnut tree.

The weather finally broke Friday, and, among the many other delayed spring tasks, I'm gradually putting up my feeders. I went into the chicken coop to start unpacking them - and found that under the top feeders, the box was packed with walnuts and dry grass nesting material! I initially assumed that all this had been stashed there when it was outside, before I put it in storage.

I pulled out the feeders and took the box out to the end of the stone wall, and emptied it on the ground, where the red squirrels were sure to find it. Later in the afternoon when I went out, there was the red squirrel going back and forth from the chicken coop to the stone wall, bringing back a walnut on every trip.

I got my camera, but getting a picture was problematic, since he was running across the patio at a good clip on every trip. I used "Sport" setting for a higher shutter speed, and panned as he ran, but this was about the best I could do for a photo.

It was only in retrospect that I realized that the walnuts hadn't been there when I put the box in storage. The ceiling on the chicken coop is not complete; the red squirrels can get in and out easily from their nest over the ceiling. In fact, I now suspect that the feeder box was where the squirrel was stashing all the walnuts it brought back (an instinct to hide them?), and what I'd done is emptied his larder back where he'd moved them from - only no longer hidden! He made 17 trips while I was out there the first time (around 4:30 PM), was still at it an hour later, and was still going (4 more trips), albeit more slowly, at 8:15 PM when I went out.

I wondered where he was putting them, since it didn't seem he'd have time to climb up to the ceiling on every trip. But he had: this morning I went into the chicken coop and there were walnuts in my backpack, in the wood box, in the box of excess or oversized kitchen implements.

Sigh!
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bowlakeboy

Great story, Don. I'm still grinning. Ed

dondi

Nah, I'm going to find a container I'm willing to do without for a while, and throw all the walnuts I find into it. I just hope he doesn't decide they're not well enough hidden!

ringleader

I hope you aren't going to make him do it all over again. He must have been one exhausted squirrel last night. Like the photo. Thanks, Don.

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