Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New garden visitor

Over the weekend, I was completing my observations of my backyard bird feeders for Project FeederWatch when I became aware that there was a squirrel on the ground under the feeders picking up stray seeds. Now, this isn't unusual in and of itself. Indeed, there are almost always squirrels in the yard during most daylight hours. But this particular squirrel was unusual.

We have lived in our house for twenty-five years and during all those years, the only squirrels I have seen in our yard and in our neighborhood looked like this.

The fur on their bellies and ears tends to have a reddish or slightly orange cast, and they are relatively large for squirrels, weighing in at around two pounds. They are fox squirrels, the largest of the tree squirrels of North America.

But the squirrel that I saw feeding on the ground under my feeders was not a fox squirrel. It was one of the smaller gray squirrels, the first one I had ever seen in my yard. The animal was an adult - a female, I think. I went into the house to get the camera to document her visit, but, of course, by the time I got back outside, she had disappeared.

I kept the camera by my side and in a little while, two more gray squirrel visitors appeared under the feeders. These two, though, were not adults. They were about half-grown kits and I assumed they were the progeny of the earlier adult I had seen.

They were actually very cute and I enjoyed watching their antics. I had crumbled and spread on the ground some stale rolls that were left over from Thanksgiving dinner and the little visitors were enjoying a snack of bread.

Note the light gray or white belly which marks this as a gray squirrel.

The fur on the back of their ears is also white or light gray.

I realize some birders and gardeners consider squirrels a nuisance, but I admit I quite enjoy them. My bird feeders are protected by squirrel baffles which keep the seeds safe from marauding squirrels or their nighttime equivalents, the raccoons. They are welcome to glean what they can from the ground underneath the feeders. And they have their own designated feeder in the front yard. I consider them welcome visitors who repay the food they get with their entertainment value.



  1. We have oh, so many squirrels in the back garden. Most are about the same although occasionally it looks like there is a red squirrel. At least I've succeeded in keeping them out of the bird food.

    1. That's the key. As long as you can keep them out of the bird seed, you can enjoy them!