Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bad Winter For Squirrels?

The coming squirrel famine
In some parts of the area, squirrel lovers say they have noticed feweracorns this year, though not quite on the scale of the Great Acorn Drought of ’08. One rehabilitator in the District, Miriam Stein, suggested on her neighborhood listserv that people consider ordering acorns online and freezing them to supplement the soon-to-be hungry squirrels.
Will squirrels encounter an acorn shortage?

“Likely due to late frosts this spring, most oak trees neglected to produce acorns this fall. That means that the food Cleveland Park’s squirrels rely on never came,” she wrote. “Within a month or so, as the weather worsens and the squirrels polish off their winter caches, our neighborhood will be full of starving squirrels.”

Other local wildlife rehabilitators and forestry experts, however, think Stein may be crying, um, squirrel. They are skeptical of the Coming Squirrel Famine. Frank Howard of the Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Gaithersburg said he and other rehabilitators haven’t noticed a shortage of acorns this year.

“The general consensus seems to be that the acorns on the ground seem to be about average, and there seems to be a bumper crop of black walnuts, potentially making up for any perceived shortage of acorns,” he said.
Come to think of it, I haven't seen any acorns on the ground or in our trees.  We have at least two varieties of oaks (white and black) on our property, and more than one variety of hickory, all of which produce squirrel food. Not a single Black Walnut anywhere nearby.  Our biggest hickory, the one that drops hickory nut all over the yard, is the one that went halfway down in Irene, and is going to be removed next week. I don't remember seeing any hickory nuts there either...

When I told Georgia about this, she said "Good."  She's not exactly on favorable terms with the local squirrels, as they do all kinds of obnoxious things in the garden.  Skye, on the other hand, likes squirrels.  Fresh preferably, but if we cooked them I supposed she'd eat them that way, too.  I find the squirrels make uncooperative models for photography.

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