Weathering the storms

Somedays we squirrels are up early.

And we see things besides the sunrise.

Interesting things! Honestly, we squirrels wanted Ol’ Wally to post this yesterday on water day, but he–and we!–forgot. Why post grass and leaves for Thirsty Thursday you may ask?

This high water line of leaves shows the water level on the golf course during last night’s storm! That was a lot of rain!

(And we are a little concerned that so many of these leaves are yellow and brown. It’s been dry for those poor trees.)

Thirsty Thursday

Folks,

We squirrels woke to another of those humid summer days where the air is so thick with moisture, it hangs in the trees. When it’s this damp out, it sure is confusing why the ground is rock hard for digging up acorns.

We decided on a romp across the golf course to search for last year’s mast (acorns for you humans) under those oaks. We were enjoying the slightly cooler morning…until we came up over a rise and spied danger!

A fox, under our trees! Obviously we had to climb and wait him out. So much for the cool of the morning.

W is for White Fringetree

WE squirrels are always looking around for different plants–and ones that we can eat part of at some point in the year. It’s not blooming yet–another few weeks–but the fringy, white blossoms of the native White Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus, are stunning.

The flowers don’t attract nectar feeders, but they do form drupes that are eaten by birds–and squirrels!

Tiny pickings, but we will take them. The leaves, which are late to appear in the spring, host caterpillars of the Rustic Sphinx moth. This is a small tree, growing only 15-30 feet high so not decent for building a drey. Somehow, that makes it perfect for you humans that tend to keep small yards and tight spaces these days. White Fringetree prefers part shade.

U is for Unusual Tree Burl

U is a nature alphabet problem child! So we present you with one of the most Unusual tree trunks we’ve seen this spring.

This opening is around–or at?–a burl, a spot in the tree where the grain has twisted or deformed. Usually, the burl protrudes from the tree in a rounded, bark-covered mass, but this one has broken open, or perhaps been opened by humans.

Burls are attractive to humans because of their pretty wood patterns when cut open. Because there aren’t as many old trees around, you humans sometimes come into the woods and steal them off trees.

Hmm, the hollow would have made a nice squirrel drey if it wasn’t so close to the ground!

Q is for Quercus

Yes, Q is often for Quercus on The Squirrel Nutwork for Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

We are Squirrels. Quercus is important to us.

And…there aren’t that many things in nature that start with Q. We are entering the part of the alphabet that is difficult for squirrels and nature.

So Quercus. Here’s a pretty one we spotted today.

Likely one we planted and forgot. This acorn is growing a White Oak, Quercus alba. After a few years…after we squirrel are gone… it will look like this…

flowering as Quercus do, with catkins to produce its own acorns.

O is for Osage Orange

No, those aren’t holiday decorations hanging that tree!

And it isn’t an exotic plant either. Osage Orange, Maclura pomifera, is native to North America. This is the the last remaining tree in the Maclura genus, though fossil records show that it once had many relatives.

Clearly these fruits ripen in the fall, and quite honestly, we don’t recognize the tree well enough to find one with flowers. They bloom in May-June and look like spiky things that turn to fuzz balls. Once the wind pollinates them, the individual fruits form all clustered together, like pomegranates–but no, they are related to figs and mulberries

Read more about Osage Orange here from our post in November when the oranges were very noticeable.

A is for Acorns!

A is for Acorns, always, avery…I mean, every year since we started the A to Z April Challenge back in 2012.

(I’ve got one…see it?) That was also the year we squirrels got together to blog about nature around us.

“From a tiny acorn, a mighty oak will grow.”

Why do squirrels like acorns?

Honestly, we squirrels haven’t taken the time to ponder such a question.

“They are easy to find in the woods where we live,” Ol’ Wally said when I asked him.

“They taste good,” Hickory said.

“They smell right,” Miz Flora told me. “That’s how squirrels determine what foods are good. A  human would never understand that.”

Ok, I turned to the humans to find out anyway. A nice scientist named Peter Smallwood understands. Acorns are easy to open. They give us energy quickly, so we squirrels can move on and stay safe. Read more about what Peter thinks about why squirrels like acorns and which acorns they prefer on the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis post. Maybe you can add some ideas to your squirrel feeding?

Acorns… We have talked about them every April 1st:

In 2012

In 2013

In 2014

In 2015

In 2016

In 2017

In 2018

In 2019

Oops, not in 2019! Last year was a special theme, Trees for Bees. We don’t feel as creative this year, but pop over to our monthly list for April 2019 in the side bar and you can revisit all of our great suggestions for what to plant to help pollinators.

This year…things are strange in our world right now, as we squirrels are sure you humans are aware. So we shall see what happens over the month of April in our neck of the woods.

This little space-themed design is the header at the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge website. Head over there if you want a look at the goals of the challenge or to access the list of blogs participating.

All the graphics this year are a beautiful purple, Miz Flora’s favorite color! See the badge over there —>

Lastly, we hope everyone is social distancing. We squirrels have practiced this for forever…well, except when peanuts are involved. So don’t tempt us. Nothing should be as tempting as peanuts. Stay in your drey! Just eat the acorns you have! More new acorns will fall eventually, but for now, we must be satisfied with the ones we have gathered and stay well!

Until tomorrow, my friends!