Sunny days–pollen days!

 

Just popping up to say, “Hi everyone!”

After a bout of rain, we’re having some cooler, sunny days here in northern Virginia–and lots of pollen! Which means we’re out, but feeling sluggish about it.

We should get face masks, like the humans!” Hickory chitters.

Well, if we did, they’d be off and on for eating as soon as we caught a bug or found a mushroom, so I’m ignoring him and enjoying the weather before it gets hot.

S is for Squirrels!

Yes, folks, squirrels.

And everything we love–

Big oak trees,

Acorns,

Leaf nests,

Birdfeeders,

Sunning on your decks

Running on the golf course.

This is our squirrel world and we love it.

 You see, today is Earth Day.

We hope you love your world, too. Maybe you’ll take care of it for all of us?

Happy Earth Day!

 

Quieting down for the winter…

Eastern Gray Squirrel eating acorn

Hickory and I are closing the blog for the winter a bit earlier than last year–see our 2015 post here. We love our readers and sharing our suburban nature findings with you, but the cold weather makes us want to burrow into our leaf nests and take a break. So we do!

This is our fourth winter closing the blog. Using our sidebar menus, you can look up other posts and our thoughts about certain plants and wildlife. Or if you like our Sunday mysteries, search the title “What is it?” to test your nature skills. Our archives are still open.

Have a safe, warm and productive winter. We squirrel will see you in the spring!

Your friends at The Squirrel Nutwork.

Nutmeg, Hickory, Ol’ Wally and Miz Flora

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Back with your mystery this week. Here’s a thing Nutmeg and I saw a few weeks ago…had to wait to for it to finish up before I could post for you good folks.

Mystery #151

Know what it is? Give us a guess in the comments!

~~~

Sorry! I had an unexpected delay, and I see so many of you checked in that I am embarrassed. No guesses, but no surprise because we also didn’t know what it was and had to check back as the tree grew its leaves out… (that was a hint!)

Willow Oak leaf

This photo is from early spring, the emerging leaves of a Willow Oak tree! Willow Oak, Quercus phellos, is a large native tree growing to 120 feet in the eastern and central U.S. As the name suggests, the leaves are more like those on a willow tree–and certainly skinny as they unfurl.

 

Willow Oak acorns

They have no teeth or lobes and turn yellow to yellow-tan in the fall. We squirrels love the acorns, but when the trees are deep in the woods–usually along marshes–we have to share with Wild Turkey, Wood Ducks, Red-headed Woodpeckers, deer and tore mammals like raccoons, and opossums and a host of birds. The Fairfax County Park Authority has a long list on their Willow Oak page.

It was fun to see this newly planted tree in our suburban neighborhood.

WIllow Oak tree

How about considering this species for your yard? You’d make a lot of squirrels happy! And maybe some turkeys, woodpeckers, bobwhite…

S is for…

Samaras!

Red Maple samara branch

Bet you thought we’d say squirrels. Hickory wanted me to say squirrels. He wants us to feature squirrels as much as possible during the Blogging From A to Z Challenge, but we got over that a few years ago.

We enjoy a good scamper in the Red Maple trees in our neighborhood, which have been a steady red to pink the last month, looking like they are still blooming.

Red Maple full of ripe samaras

It’s the seeds, the samaras. This is a name given to any winged fruit. When the seeds are ripe, the ‘wings’ dry and are quite papery. They loosen and spin to the ground, and if there is a wind, are carried far from the parent tree, giving them a better chance of growing themselves. It’s part of nature’s plan to make the earth green! When we woke up yesterday, all those little winged Red Maple seeds were floating to the ground–the proof being the humans just laid down mulch yesterday.

samaras on fresh mulch

Of course we got busy, too and nipped off some of the bunches.

Red Maple branch tips nipped by squirrels

Don’t ask me why, it’s just a squirrel urge. And sometimes we eat the seeds.

Red Maple branch nipped by squirrel

But we can’t eat all of them and the samaras of course will go everywhere and send up maple seedlings in the most unlikely places.

samaras in sidewalk crack

Enjoy!

Hello ‘real’ winter!

We’re still on our winter break, especially with the dump of snow hitting our little corner of the world. But a reader sent a great photo to us and we had to share.

Squirrel feeding in snowstorm

Our normal ways of collecting food–sniffing out the acorns and hickory nuts we buried last fall–isn’t working too well with several feet of snow on the ground here in Northern Virginia. Our reader put seed in cleared area to help us out–and perhaps the birds, too. We thought we’d share her idea in case a few of you might also be able to help your neighborhood critters. Thanks, Mary Ellen!

If you aren’t a regular reader, please see our prior post explaining The Squirrel Nutwork‘s winter blogging break.