Saturday, March 1, 2008

Squirrel Reduction

Almost 2 years ago we moved from a house 12 miles outside of town, in the woods on a dirt road, to a house in the center of a small New England town. For an in-town house we have a decent size yard including a side yard with a sunny garden spot and a back yard shade garden area. The lot has several large trees and plenty of birds for an in-town property. Now we keep our 4 kitties inside 24/7 because of automobiles, rather than coyote, fox and wild fisher cats.

However, I was noting the other day, how few squirrels there are in our yard these days. When we moved here 20 months ago the yard was seriously over-run with squirrels. They would chase each other through the oak trees in our front yard, LEAP onto our roof, scurry over the top and LEAP into the maple tree just behind. From there they would run and jump, eventually heading into the tall fir trees along the back property line.

Now I like squirrels and most wildlife (OK, I do think the world could do without fisher cats) but these squirrels were pretty much over-running the property- even dragging pizza crusts and partially eaten bagels from the trash cans of a nearby park, into our yard and trees. One day a half nibbled apple was dropped from the top of one of the firs, hitting our picnic table with a loud thud and just missing me.

Now, their numbers have been reduced to just a few rambunctious youth. Why? How? The past 2 autumns a hawk has visited the neighborhood for a few weeks. He (she?) is quite tame and one day sat right in the lower branches of an oak tree watching my husband rake leaves below. Last Fall I sat with my camera one day and watched it hop from branch to branch stalking 2 squirrels until one finally ran for it and the hawk swooped down on top of it, right on the edge of my yard. It was hard to resist the urge to chase the hawk off but there really were way too many squirrels and nature has its design.


Gina said...

Wow! I did not realize Hawks would pick off the squirrels like that! We came home a few weeks ago to witness a hawks devouring another freshly killed bird in our backyard. It was kinda scary! I'm not usually an evil person but I wouldnt be mad if that hawk came back for a few squirrels and rabbits!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

We have had some hawks in town also. They have not had much impact on our squirrel population though.

WiseAcre said...

Talk about fast food! It must have been quite a show watching the hawk.

The few squirrels in my yard drive our dog nuts. She gets so upset when one dares to trespass on her turf. It's easy to see where the phrase "Barking up the wrong tree" came from. Poor Pookey is left barking up the tree the squirrel ran up while the offender is now a number of trees away.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

The hawks around here fail to get any of my squirrels. They have no predators & way too much free food provided by my neighbors. At least mine don't leave garbage like yours. The funniest thing I've ever seen a squirrel do was eat a powder sugar donut. It was not at my house, & I can't imagine where it got the donut.

Rosehaven Cottage said...

That's really cool that you got to get a photograph of that! Wow!!!!!

I'm so glad you came by and visiting Rosehaven Cottage. Now I've discovered your blog! Yay!!!

Come by often,
Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Meems said...

Hi- We have the same squirrel scenario you described AND we have several resident red-shouldered hawks. Although our hawks don't seem to pay one bit of attention to the squirrels. As a matter of fact I've got photos of them sitting on the same limb together with the squirrel taunting the hawk without any response whatsoever. Maybe your hawk is another species-- I couldn't tell by the photo.

I secretly wish something liked to eat squirrels- as awful as that sounds. I am fascinated with the habits of the hawks so I take lots of photos of them and I've posted about them several times.
Glad I found your blog.
Have a great day!
Meems @ HoeandShovel.blogspot

Ewa said...

I love squirrels and I see lately, that the populations in my neighbourhood gets smaller - what could be the reason?

The picture of the hawk is really interesting :)

Thanks for sharing.