The Squirrel

 When I started leaving peanuts in the yard each morning, the crows were not the only ones to notice.

The neighborhood gray squirrel came over to investigate as well. 

This squirrel has grown fat off horse chestnuts all fall. I watched him expertly balance as he ran along the phone line two stories up like a tight-rope walker with a tail, carrying a horse chestnut in his front two paws.

In the urban wildlife landscape, squirrels are the true acrobats. So now this squirrel has noticed free peanuts on the yard every morning, and is not afraid to lay claim to it. To misquote Robert Frost, "He things all peanuts are his by rights."*

So I've unwittingly created a scarce resource for which there is now conflict. This morning I sat watching by the window while a young crow paced back and forth looking right and left, waiting for the right opportunity to leap up onto the peanut rock.

No sooner did she do that, than a larger crow swooped down to claim her spot. She moved over, deferring to the larger bird. Then the gray squirrel charged from the bushes, causing both crows to fly off.

They didn't go far, though. They merely winged over to make room for the barreling squirrel, the same way I've seen crows get out of the way of a car when they're picking at roadkill that they want to get back to.

Anyway, it soon became apparent to all involved that the squirrel, who has horse chestnuts buried all over the neighborhood, likes the idea of peanuts more than the actual peanuts. He got tired of eating them, and ran across the yard.

So the crows won in the end, with their patient watchfullness.

Now the yard is empty of peanuts and wildlife. Tomorrow is another day.

Here's a picture I got of the squirrel running away, though you can really only see his tail. The crows are out of the picture.


* Misquoted from Robert Frost's poem "Two Tramps in Mudtime" in A Further Range (1937)


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