In my post prior to this one I mentioned that a family of four squirrels has set up camp in our Mountain Ash Tree. We have since counted five, most likely both parents and three young ones.
Last fall I hired an arborist to prune and thin many of the trees around our house, with the Mountain Ash having dead branches -- and one quite large dead bough -- removed. When the bough was sawed we found that it was hollow. There already was a hollowed area down lower, where the two main parts of the tree branch from the trunk. For several years starlings made nests inside the crook there at the hollow, in spite of how easy it was for cats to torment them so close to the ground.
It appears that the baby squirrels were born in one of the hollows inside the tree, where a cozy nest must be hidden from sight, and they are now large enough to be allowed outside the nest to play all over the tree. And play. And play. Interestingly, they are feasting on the tender new leaves on the tree and are also munching on the tiny seeds that have always matured into bunches of hard orange berries beloved by flocks of robins.
This is a short video composed of clips we filmed yesterday. Michael shot the ones that begin the video from inside our office looking out at the Mountain Ash. Once your eyes are adjusted you will notice movement in the leaves at various spots throughout the tree, movement made by the five squirrels running up and down and jumping from limb to limb. He then zoomed for a closer view. Afterward I took the camera outside in our back yard and shot the other two scenes. All combined, it gives you a fair idea of the joyous show we have enjoyed outside our window every day for the past week.
I wonder what will happen as the three young squirrels get bigger during the summer. Right now the ash tree is all they know and it is heaven to them. At what point will they venture away from the nest and will their first journeys possibly be training runs hosted by their parents to the back yard where the gazebo feeder is kept full of seeds, nuts, and corn? Will they stay around our house? So many oak trees have been taken out in our neighborhood that it really isn't very hospitable down the block..... But the Mountain Ash is not a huge tree capable of welcoming multiple families of squirrels as the old oaks down the block once served their kind..... How will their claiming the ash tree change the ecosystem for birds, I wonder. You will note the bird house on the tree that right now is bird-free and would usually at this time of year be an active sparrow nest. Also, if the squirrels continue to eat the berry pods they will not grow into the berry clusters that robins feast on in the autumn.......
I'll continue to watch and will let you know how squirrel life progresses there in the Mountain Ash tree in our side yard and the effects, if any, that we note on bird life and conditions around the rest of our yard.
The idea is that there is a kind of memory in nature. Each kind of thing has a collective memory. So, take a squirrel living in New York now. That squirrel is being influenced by all past squirrels. ~Rupert Sheldrake