Squirrel away sunflower seeds for the winter

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Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

This Eastern Gray Squirrel must really love sunflower seeds. I had just filled the tray with black oil sunflower seeds when she pounched on the tray. When I took these photos the squirrel was just four feet away from me.

She was keeping a wary eye on me as she steadily cracked seeds. She dropped the shells. She was eating so quickly, that I thought she would choke. The thought sprang into my mind on how to perform the Heimlich maneover on a squirrel. After watching her, I decided she must be stuffing the seeds in her mouth to bury later.

I think this accounts for the sunflowers which spring up all over my garden. The squirrel planted sunflowers are always nicer looking than the ones that I plant.The squirrels don’t harvest any other crop besides the sunflowers. They leave all the other food crops alone.

The squirrels are gardens/farmers because when the sunflower heads reach a certain size, the squirrels snip off the heads and carry them away. I like to think that they harvest at the peak of ripeness.

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You can see in this photo the squirrel is still in her tawny summer fur. Her tail is bordered with white tipped hairs. In winter the back of her ears will be covered in dark hair, her tail will be dark and she will lose the tawny/gold hairs on her body.

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The squirrels neighbors are quite full of personality.  White-footed mice also live in my garden. I think these are the only two mammals that live and dine there. But then I am forgetting the opossum, skunks and raccoons that drink from the water dishes at night. And the cats.

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