Motionless Monday

Hey there!

Isn’t this theist wildlife statue ever?

We spotted him last year and went looking again. He’s in a new spot–obviously the humans here have a sense of humor!

This will be my last Motionless Monday post until spring! Have a great winter and stay warm! Hickory

Advertisements

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Here’s a common sight in nature–do you know what it is?

I”l check the comments for your guesses and return later with the answer. By the way, Nutmeg wants to put the blog on hiatus for the winter, which means we’ll soon stop our regular posts. You can always access our archives!

~~~

It’s definitely an oak leaf, which many of you many have realized…and we had a correct guess today! We have so many different oaks in the neighborhood–white, pin, black, willow and chestnut! Because they blow all round, we can’t always identify the fallen leaves by the closest tree, which is the case with this leaf that was found beneath a chestnut oak.

Only the pin and the black oak have the deep lobes with pointy tips between, and the Pin Oaks have the deeper lobes of the two.

Here are black oak leaves for comparison:

But really, any of the oak species are great trees to us squirrels!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Here’s a tricky one–can you actually see the thing we’re asking you to identify?

I’ll be back to check your guesses later!

~~~

That was decidedly hard to see. How about this?

This little critter camouflages really well!

Its a walking stick–the kind that’s an insect. And look at the size of him! Compare him to the oak and maple leaves–about 4.5 inches long. It’s so cool that the body is speckled like tree bark and the undersides of the flat legs are orange. Maybe that’s to make it look like stems coming from a twig, or to break up the look of a body. The color perfectly matched some Virginia Pine needles the walking stick was walking over.

Walking sticks or stick-bugs are members of the insect order Phasmatodea, which includes many different species. We aren’t sure which this is, but we squirrels do see them often in the treetops where they feed on leaves. In fact, we understand that in the warmer climates of the American south, walking sticks can endanger trees by defoliating them if the insects overpopulate.

This one might have fallen with the leaves, or, if it’s a she, it may have actually descended on purpose to lay her eggs in the soil. They usually only live one season, and appear large in the autumn just like wolf spiders and praying mantids because they have had all summer to grow.

Sharing the treetops!

We squirrels tend to like the treetops to ourselves–well, birds sometimes come by or move in for spring and summer nesting. But around the suburbs, we rule the treetops!

Until, uh…

In late October, our squirrel correspondents in Stephens City, Virginia discovered that sometimes we squirrels have to share. This black bear cub apparently sought shelter in their tree after becoming separated from his mother bear.

The resident humans were all in a furry–maybe on behalf of squirrels?–and alerted some kind wildlife rescue folks that scoured the area in search of the mama.

They finally determined he must be orphaned and took the baby bear to a wildlife center to be cared for until he is old enough to be freed to live on his own. American black bears are found widely across North America, and prefer woodlands that produce nuts–acorns, beechnuts and pine seeds–in plentiful supply. They also eat wild cherries, wild grapes, and berries on the vegetable side of things that we squirrels also enjoy. Like squirrels, they don’t mind feasting on insects, but then their large size takes off in directions we don’t want to think about, because they eat fish and any other animals they can capture, like–shudder–small mammals!

If they can’t find enough food in the forests, or if they learn easy pickings can be found in the delacatesin of human homes, cars, garbage, livestock food, bird feeders, pet food, beehives…you get the idea…they will move on in and take that opportunity humans are providing.

As much as it pains Hickory and I to say it–

“No, don’t!” Hickory chitters.

–please keep these human sources of food secured if you suspect black bears are nearby. They are totally into the reward of food. What squir–animal isn’t? Humans have those tricky ways of locking garbage cans and electrical fences that we’ve heard are cheap ways to discourage a bear–especially if you see the damage these big guys can do to a home!

Of course, the real reason is to keep these guys around and living safely in the world we all now share.

A friend to The Squirrel Nutwork brought this story to our attention and gained permission to share the baby bear’s photographs with our readers. Thank you, Nancy!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s mystery number 222! We squirrels feel like there should be some sort of celebration when we hit match numbers, but we don’t know what. So on with the mystery…

Do you know this plant?

Give me a guess in the comments and I’ll be back later to verify answer!

~~~

These late leaf hangers-on are the leaves of the American Beech, Fagus grandifolia. This striking tree doesn’t grow in our close neighborhood, but is in the Northern Virginia area, often in stands (meaning that’s all that’s growing there) that are striking this time of year–silver bark and gold leaves. It’s intolerant of urban pollution, salt and soil compaction, so we’re not surprised it’s gone from suburban neighborhoods.

We did a little look-see online, and read that beeches love rich bottomland soil–the bottom of the hill where all the good soil slides down and collects. They tolerate shade really well, so will grow up with the other trees, then keep going and become the only species there, or with a mix of maples, birch and hemlock. So a beech may have out-lasted the other trees that started growing on that land.

Of course they flower–pretty small ones–and produce beechnuts! We squirrels love them, as do wild turkeys, raccoon, deer, rabbits, fox, pheasant, opossum…I think you get the idea–a lot of animals eat beechnuts!

Plant one if you can! Moist, rich soil that drains well, and not prone to foot traffic or snowplowing with salt.