The Arboreal Gourmet

Getting ready for the winter.

A grey squirrel, poised on a rugged sassafras tree branch, flicks its fluffy white tail like a feather in the cool morning air. Surveying the backyard, it grasps a black walnut, a prize from its morning foraging.

Grey squirrels, or Sciurus carolinensis, know how to make themselves home in cities and towns. You'll spot them all over in North American parks and gardens, always up to something – darting around, jumping from tree to tree, scampering randomly across neighbourhood streets, busy hunting for their next snack. Whenever I see a squirrel, I'm reminded of the character Scrat from the Ice Age movies.

These little guys are pretty smart, too. I've watched them trying to crack the code of my 'squirrel-proof' bird feeder. It's got a two-layer cage. Birds can fit through the bigger holes of the outer cage, but it's a no-go zone for chunkier squirrel bodies. They haven't realised that their arms are too short to swipe the food from the inside. It doesn't stop them from trying, though!

They're fun to watch.