Field of Science

Squirrel olympic training

The primary training season for the squirrel olympics is underway. The primaryevent is always the same: get into the bird feeder and hog down all bird seed. So far this year the event has mainly involved the long jump and who knows how far the squirrels can be pushed to go. But that's part of the training, to push the athletes to ever higher and longer distances. The event used to involve a lot of pole climbing, but the advent and application of fairly effective baffles has pretty much ended things. Yes, the young ones try it a time or two, and that's it. A change in the garden configuration resulted in a repositioning of a bird feeder on a pole to a position that was further than ever from a large sugar maple tree. It seemed a safe bet because no squirrel had ever jumped that far before. But that was before this year! Please understand that these are fox squirrels, big, husky, handsome, and well-fed. Our gardens are prime fox squirrel habitat and that's why some 12 to 18 of them live here abouts. At any given time you can see 8-10. Well, an olympic aspirant found out that you could jump from higher up in the maple tree and land on the feeder. Others soon copied the example. A cage around the feeder did not deter the squirrels either, finding their way in withint 2 hrs of its construction. So during the weekend's break in the cold weather the bird feeder was moved another 3 feet from the maple tree. Several squirrels were seen sizing up the distance yesterday, but no one was attempting the new jump. But this morning, a squirrel was sitting in the feeder having his breakfast. No official were present so the distance of the jump could not be verified, and as certain as possible without making them all wear numbered shirts, only one squirrel has thus far qualified for the long jump. The training will continue

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