Squirrel

I first encountered Skeeter two summers ago, when my husband and I first moved into this apartment. The apartment didn't have a screen on the back door, but I liked to keep the sliding door open for air when the weather was nice. One day, I heard what I thought was a bug trapped inside, pinging against the glass as it tried to find its way back out. I went to help the poor thing to freedom, but what I found was not a bug---it was a squirrel in the middle of my kitchen floor, looking for all the world like he'd been caught with his paw in the cookie jar. We both just kind of stared at each other for a few seconds until I laughed and he ran away, feet Flintstoning against the linoleum as he...

Red-Tailed Hawk sitting in a tree

As I drive to town to pick up my daily mail, she sits there, high up on the right---an elegant hawk on top of a telephone pole. She has a grand view of her hunting grounds across the farm and sagebrush fields, though I wish there were a tree she could sit on. Every day I wish for her to have a good meal, thinking of her own hunger and possible babies. And then I think of the adorable, family-oriented little ground squirrels, who would be the most likely meal, and I cringe to think of the loss in their close-knit families.  The other day, as I drove around the curve in my driveway, I encountered another hawk, who had just caught a ground squirrel and was taking off with it in his talons....

Orphaned baby squirrel eating from an eye dropper

Mid March The towels in the shoe box gave a suspicious lurch. There is Life in there! Every day, they change. Ears a little perkier. Tails up across their backs. Three blind heads poking out from the edge of the box. I reach in to take one out for feeding and she gives a sudden, electric jerk as she feels my touch. Just one—but it’s the sign of a rapidly maturing nervous system, a harbinger of things to come. Before this, they had been helpless and passive. In a few weeks, their reflexes will be so quick it will be impossible to catch them or even track them with our eyes. End March Oh dear! Their eyes are opening and the box is moving a lot—sudden jerky little movements. I know...

Three orphaned squirrel babies snuggle in a towel

Dear Squirrel Momma, We have your three babies and they are doing well. You took such good care of them---all three were sleek and well fed. Together, they must weigh more than you! How did you keep them all fed and cleaned so well? You had to feed yourself and make enough milk for them---and during the winter. What an amazing feat. The first couple of days were a difficult adjustment for all of us, as they didn’t like the rubber nipple and we couldn’t get them to defecate after the change in diet, but it looks like that challenge is over. The milk formula we give them is no substitute for yours, made by your very body and taken into theirs in an exquisite continuity of Squirrelness...

Grizzly Bear Laying on snow-covered log

This may not seem like a big deal unless you have bears residing on your property. Then, you’ll spend the winter worrying about them---how CAN they live without food and water? They can’t be alive! I’ve had 23 years of winter worry for our older bears, and although they come out of hibernation alive each year, you can never worry too much. Well, maybe you can---but it doesn’t feel like a choice, despite comforting myself with the fact that we’ve all been okay for nearly a quarter of a century. It truly is a miracle. In any case, all five made it, coming out with varying degrees of energy and not always looking their most intelligent. We ordered boxes of dark lettuce to help...

Young wolf standing against the backdrop of the blue sky

— By Dawn Harrison — There are just as many personality differences in animals as there are in people, a concept that becomes more evident to me each time I do my daily rounds. While Tanaka the wolf and I are now good friends and he excitedly greets me on my daily visits, not everyone has the same reaction. I just keep reminding myself that Tanaka and I weren’t always friends and he went through his steps just like each animal will go through theirs. Tundra is a handsome young wolf. He has had less opportunity to be handled by people, and as a result, is much more wary of the humans around him. Despite this, I find myself making progress. It started one day when he approached the...

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