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.