Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nighttime hijinks at the bird feeder

This evening I turned on the lights at the back deck just to see how things looked outside, and I found a three-ring circus taking place in the trees. Flying squirrels were everywhere! I've never seen so many at once. I counted at least 6 at one time, but I bet there were more.


See all the little dots that are under the feeder? That's seed that's getting spilled by these hungry rascals.




The word has definitely been spread that our feeders are THE place to dine. They are very vocal, making all kinds of squeaks. It's no wonder everyone knows to come here.


They were on all the feeders, and in all of the perimeter trees around the deck. I was sitting outside to take these photos, and actually felt surrounded at times. I was half expecting one to land on me. I think I've mentioned before that they are pretty fearless, and they run right along the deck railings just a few feet in front me. We can even swivel around the shepherd's hooks that hold the feeders, and they won't budge. The freakiest thing this evening was when I could hear one running around on the underside of the deck... somewhere, unseen, under my feet...


Flying squirrels are extremely fast-moving creatures. They hop, scurry and fly to get where they want to go. This one landed on the window screen, then made its way over to the siding before it flew over to a neighboring tree.


Preparing for take-off. I've not yet caught a photo of a flying squirrel in flight. One of these days...




You can see from these photos that they blend in pretty well with the trees. Much more so than their non-flying counterparts. Dave brought up a good point the other night: if they blend so well from this angle, why is their belly fur so white? The only reason I could come up with is that it would serve to startle whoever they might be flying at. Although, I just thought of another reason... maybe it has something to do with helping them see where they're trying to land when they fly... like the white on their bellies reflects off of the surface they're aiming for. That's a long shot, especially on a night when there's no moonlight, but with those big eyes of theirs, I'd say their night vision has to be pretty good. Anyone else got any ideas about this?


Look how fat he's getting on our seed! Oy!

13 comments:

Steve Willson said...

These are some great shots. I've never seen a flying squirrel over here. Every country house has its own unique mix of animal life that enhances our definition of Home. It's a plus when those animals are cute.

Heather said...

Steve - Thanks. I love the point you bring up about each home having its own unique mix of wildlife. So true. These critters are cute, and FUNNY! I sat outside watching them for a half hour last night, and spent most of the time cracking up. Their energy level is amazing.

James said...

Great shots. I've never seen flying squirrels before. Are they strictly nocturnal?

David said...

I wonder if the recent cold snap has made them more anxious about fattening up.

Heather said...

James - From all accounts I've read and heard, yes, they are strictly nocturnal. Oh, and I haven't watched Flash Forward yet. One of my co-workers, who happens to be the biggest LOST geek I know, says he watched the premier last week and liked it.

Dave - Yes, I've wondered the same thing. I'll be interested to see if they keep coming around throughout the colder months. I don't think we've seen them in the winter before, but I don't know that we've really LOOKED for them in the winter, either! Let's keep an eye out this year!

Nature As Is said...

Oy is right Heather...but beautiful little animals. I have never seen a flying squirrel. This is the second time since I've been following your blog that you've posted flying squirrels. Such sweet little things....They know where the good stuff is. LOL

NW Nature Nut said...

What a treat! I would love to see those in my garden. Their eyes are amazing!

Gabrielle said...

L-O-V-E these guys!!! Especially the one in the third picture that's sitting upside down under the feeder. How lucky you are to have caught them at their feast.

Monika said...

I'm jealous Heather! I would love to see flying squirrels! They sure look cute, and it sounds like they're pretty mischievous too. Don't let them eat you out of house and home!

Wild Flora said...

Wonderful photos. I've never seen so many good closeup photos of flying squirrels in one place before. Thanks for taking and sharing.

Heather said...

Crista - I post about the flying squirrels when I can, mostly because I think they are cute and hilarious, but also to share them with folks like you who have never seen them before!

Michele - Yes, their beady eyes are quite mesmerizing, aren't they? I think the eyes contribute to their cute factor!

Gabrielle - Thanks! My husband also like the picture that you mentioned. I thought it was pretty funny that he was hanging out upside down like that!

Monika - Cute and mischievous, I think that about sums it up. I think they have way more "personality" than their non-flying cousins, though. I'm afraid they've already eaten us out of house and home!

Wild Flora - Thank you for your visit! Glad you enjoyed the photos.

Kelly said...

Ohhhh.....I just love these fellows!! I think it would be hard to tear myself away from them. I've never seen one in real life--I wish we had a few!!! (I'm catching up...the Ann Arbor trip messed up my blogging visiting and posting schedule. I have a place for you to add to your travels...a Sandhill Crane sanctuary...totally cool!)

Heather said...

Kelly - They really are very interesting and very fun to watch. I looked out last night and found 4 of them all crowded on one side of the hopper feeder, and at least 1 on the other side, and 3 on/in the platform feeder... I think they are multiplying like the Gremlins! I did spot a Barred Owl out earlier in the evening though, in a tree very close to where the squirrels enjoy our feeders, and of course there was not a squirrel to be seen at that point.