I enjoy squirrels — particularly tree squirrels, but I can say I love chipmunks too (the greedy little cusses). I also love the idea of flying squirrels and I’m lucky to have ever seen one.
In my neighborhood, until the last few years, there has been very little evidence of (non-avian) wildlife on a daily basis except for grey squirrels. I appreciate their antics: wild courtship chases, games of hide and seek, stealing food from birds, and lying flat on cement to cool off in summer. It does my heart good to see them living their lives right next door.
From the time I moved into this house until last year we had a total of two visits from red squirrels. I knew they lived by the river, but had none as close neighbors. We have always had a plethora of grey squirrels. Then, last year we saw red squirrels several times.
This year? We have tiny red-furred neighbors. I see them nearly daily: in the fir tree, in the hemlock tree, and in the crab apple tree. I see enough of them these days to formulate observations and compare them and their behavior to the more familiar grey squirrels.
While I do enjoy the grey squirrels, I find their behavior — predictable. When they look at me, the little computer inside their little heads is waiting for my next move so their internal binary can throw the switch that tells them what to do. It doesn’t feel like there is an intelligence at home.
The red squirrels, on the other hand, are thinking every moment. You can see them looking at things and figuring things out. I can feel when they look at me that they are evaluating the chances they might be in any kind of danger.
A gray squirrel at rest appears to simply be at rest. A red squirrel at rest is thinking about things.
They do things I don’t understand like swarming all over the young maple tree out front and licking its branches. Why would they do that? And when they run, they do it differently. The gray squirrel streams its tail out behind when running along the power line while the red squirrel runs with its tail straight up in the air — occasionally flicking from one side to the other. There is no point to these observations. I am just enjoying the show.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Red Clan.