Thursday, September 30, 2010


Several weeks ago, as we were waiting for a space in our library parking lot, the boys and I watched a squirrel bury an enormous walnut.

As we watched discreetly from behind tinted windows, we had front row seats to the whole show:  Little guy with jumbo-jawbreaker-walnut scampers across parking lot, looks around furtively for spying walnut thieves, lays nut down, digs furiously until his head is underground, stares suspiciously at our minivan, puts nut in hole, and very carefully fills hole and covers with dry leaf camouflage.

I told the boys about an article I read a while back about how squirrels don't always dig up their own nuts.  As I remember it, they just know the proper circumstances and geometry of where to bury/where to find nuts, and they all work hard at caching as many nuts as possible.  When winter comes, they just look in those logical nut spots, and find nuts.  This article described these findings as a major breakthrough in squirrel research.

Of course, when I tried to confirm this, I couldn't find the article.  I do remember it, though!  I did find other interesting information about squirrels.  They are "scatter hoarders" as opposed to "larder hoarders."  (I can relate.)  They complain with a "Kuk!"  They use their tails for balance and communication, and as parachutes and blankets.

Mostly, I just love knowing that there is a secret walnut cache in that otherwise totally boring corner of the library parking lot.

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