Thirsty Thursday

It’s been some time since Ol’ Wally has presented you humans with a good solution for water runoff, like this one. This rock stream directs the water, but lets water soak into the soil, instead of channeling it totally away.

Drainage

Notice how that grass is thicker and greener right up along the edge?

Have you seen any good water drainage systems lately?  Send them on to Nutmeg and she’ll pass them to me to share.

One of Nature’s Mysteries To Solve

Hey there,

We have a summer visitor in the neighborhood. Do you recognize him?

Mystery # 91

Make a guess in our comments!

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Hard to tell from the back, huh? Well how about a more face-on photo?

male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The name is the description of this bird: Rose-breasted Grosbeak. This is the male with the showy colors. These grosbeaks migrate into northern Virginia to nest every summer, then head south in the winter. We don’t see as many of them as we used to, Miz Flora says, so Nutmeg did a little research and learned the pretty colors attract humans to catching them and selling them in their winter range in South America. Sad. For the bird and its mate, because those scientists think they stay together.

We enjoy listening to their pretty songs. You may have heard it and not realized it, so check out the All About Birds Website to have a listen.

Nest Building

Sorry, I didn’t make a post earlier in the week. I was busy with adding layers to my leaf nest, trying to keep it cooler. But my housekeeping reminded me of an interesting find Hickory and I ran across about a month ago.

American Crow Nest

We were high up, feeding on new leaves and saw this jumble of sticks. We both froze. Seconds later the black tail feathers popped up over the edge, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

It was a crow. While crows might chase us and caw, they don’t really go after squirrels with an eye for a meal. Not like a hawk would. Still, we scooted out of their pretty quick. No point asking for trouble.

 

Thirsty Thursday

Folks, Ol’ Wally spotted a Red-backed Salamander the other day, in the damp mud beside a little pond. It’s a sighting most won’t see this time of year–too hot and dry.

salamanderSalamanders, like frogs have got to stay damp, or their skin loses its protective coating of slime. That’s important because this salamander breathes through his skin. Seriously, he doesn’t have lungs, so he has to stay in a wet area.

Despite its delicate look, this salamander is a sharp little predator, coming out at night and feeding on insects and spiders. But I’d hazard a guess he’s been spotted before. This guy has lost something–the tip of his tail. Luckily for him, this old squirrel had a full belly and no inclination to run.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Mystery time again. It’s spring and we squirrels are finding bits of broken shell under the trees. Which bird do you think hatched from this one?

Mystery #90

Note! More than one species of bird has blue eggs!

Back later for your guesses.

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Egg identification is hard! It’s a blue egg, and most people think robins when they see blue eggs. But after Nutmeg and I did some research, we learned the eggs of the American Robin are a darker blue, and only blue, not speckled. But robins are in the Thrush family, and all the Thrushes seem to have blue eggs.

Bluebirds, we thought! Hmm, no, their eggs are well photographed, smaller than robin eggs and blue. By clicking around, we found some other photos of blue speckled eggs, like this one from Sitka, Alaska! And this Song Thrush egg. A Hermit Thrush? That photo shows some speckling, but this one has none. Go figure!

Clearly bird eggs vary a lot.

We have to hang up our detective hats and admit we aren’t positively sure. Another look at Song Thrush eggs seems like the closest we are going to get. We wonder, do the eggs get lighter or darker in color after the birds hatch out of them? (No birds let us squirrels get close enough to check.) Do the colors vary depending on what part of the country the birds nest in? What foods they eat?  If you humans have better detective skills, please chime in with answers.

Lastly, here is a neat set of eggs we found in a blog post, with all of them identified.

Thirsty Thursday

Howdy from Colorado!Coney the Pine Squirrel

I’m Coney the Pine Squirrel, The Squirrel Nutwork’s Colorado Field Correspondent.

Ol’ Wally has let me use his water column once again to update you on the creek rebuilding progress in my hometown of Jamestown, Colorado. Nutmeg tells me we have new readers, so you may not know I survived a flood back in September. It was pretty scary. Read my previous posts here. The humans here are worried the ground moved so much then that it won’t stay in place this spring when all the snow starts to melt above us.

Considering we got another round of snow this week–higher than my leaps, yikes–they might be right. I surprised Nutmeg with my photos! She says back in Virginia, they never get snow in May. Ha. It’s springtime in the Rockies!

But back to my post. I have my nest in a Ponderosa way up a ridge, so I’m not so worried. Though it is a lot of water already after some warm days the last few weeks. Here’s my view of the new waterfalls they put into the creek so the water is slowed as it flows through.

drops from high

If I run down to another part of the creek, rocks have been placed in the middle, though too far for a squirrel to use to jump across.

Rocks in creek

Really, the more I scamper around to check different places to send Nutmeg in my report, the more I realize just how much these humans have done to make the creek banks sturdier, direct the water away from houses and keep the land from washing downstream again. Everywhere along and in the creek there is rock, most of it hauled in on loud trucks.

Rock-armored creek 2

But I think a little noise has been worth it to keep the creek in its stream bed. Maybe I can report again when the weather warms up and we see more than a touch of green. Thank you again, Nutmeg and Hickory and Ol’ Wally for letting a Field Correspondent report about somewhere else squirrels live on your fabulous blog.

Virginia Creeper, the Five Leaf Vine

Hickory and I decided it must be time to remind all you human readers what Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissis quinquefoila, looks like. Believe it or not, many, many of you trying to identify this five leaf–not three leaf–vine find your way to The Squirrel Nutwork.

Virginia Creeper new leaf color

Virginia Creeper, as the name implies, is a native plant. Because the new leaves can emerge with only three leaflets, and are also red tinged, it’s often mistaken for Poison Ivy, which we featured on our Nature’s Mysteries on April 24. That means Virginia Creeper often gets ripped up and we hate to see that happen. It does vine and can take over areas, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad plant to have around. The broad leaves make a great ground cover. Mammals, maybe a bit smaller than us, can play hide and seek in them. Actually, they might really be hiding. I know the toads Hickory surprises are.  Many moth caterpillars eat these leaves, and the berries are eaten by scads of birds, and us, too!

Just not by humans! These berries are poisonous to humans! Don’t ever think you can eat something a squirrel does.

If you’d like to test yourself to see if you can tell Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy apart, here is a Mysteries post we ran last June with many photos. Have fun!