Where are the squirrels?

njtea(NJ Z6)September 17, 2005

I'm down to just about no squirrels at my birdfeeders here in northwest NJ. I don't remember a time when there were none of them scarfing up the dropped birdseed.

Anyone else notice the same thing?

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Elaine_NJ6

I'm noticing a fairly normal squirrel population. I don't put out feeders, so I mainly notice squirrels when walking the dog, but there are a normal number around. Not a large number, just kind of normal. What is normal is for populations of small animals to fluctuate markedly, in nature in response to the food supply; today probably in response to a lot of other stuff as well. A few years ago, I noticed a dearth of squirrels, followed a year or so later by an abundance of them. All normal. The trees control it. In order to make sure that some seeds survive to make new trees, the trees play a kind of cut-and-mouse game with seed-eating animals. They produce few nuts for a couple of years, leading to a decline in numbers of animals, followed by a mast year--a year when all the trees within a local area produce abundant nuts. That ensures that some survive to be planted; it also causes the animal populations to rise. A mast year is usually noticeable--you'll say to yourself, "I can't believe the number of acorns this year!"

Nature is wonderful.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 12:09PM
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FurryCritterFan(5a WI)

Reporting from the Midwest -

Our s.e. WI Wildlife Center reported that this is the year for squirrels. They are up in admission levels considerably. Orphaned/injured cottontail admissions are down. We transported our neighbor's orphaned batch of four on August 12, and squirrel mom/rehabber Lisa was tending to 40 squirrels at that time. Weird, but our adult population seems less than other years - here in our own backyard; could be predators, urban development and tree food/nut/seed thing as Elaine explained.

We provided a maple tree and half woodsey/edge habitat to two boxes of juvey squirrels on Sept. 7th. Total of 10 new residents. One of the eastern gray squirrel juveys which survived from the neighbor's batch of four orphaned babies (mom drowned in their patio kiddie pool left uncovered) was buddy'ed up w/3 other orphans. The sturdy protective boxes will shelter the babes until they get time to construct singular dreys w/a natural sky roof! And they've been a joy to watch as they chomp on maple seeds and explore their newfound freedom. Took pictures of my DH fastening the boxes to the trees, and the youngens first peeking out...

We need to remove a dead mountain ash tree in a few weeks. If anyone has tips on fast growing oaks [wink] or nut and apple trees - natural food sources - please clue me in.
Likewise, I don't place out bird seed as often as I did in previous years. The amount of adult e/gray squirrels seems down at least in our immediate area. I don't see as many hit by vehicles in the road, either. But the wildlife center was sure kept busy.

Eastern cottontails, down.
13-lined Ground squirrels, down to zilch.
Chipmunks in our yard, increased a bit due to protective havens and mom chippy having a litter that survived.
SQ tally; No black, albino, or reds spotted.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 12:40PM
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davek913(Z5 Northern IN)

Around here we don't see as many in the summer. They usually start rearing their heads more in October. I have noticed however, that there have been more hawks in our area recently. They're widening a road about 200 yards from us, and removing some land where I know we've seen them before. Take away their homes and they'll move where there's food, unfortunately for our little furry friends.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 3:42AM
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envirocop

They abandon my bird feeders this time of year here too, I've always attributed it to an abundance of acorns in the autumn.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 2:47PM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

You may have some of my squirrels, I have Tons of them this year. All the babies from this spring have stayed right here.It's a hoot to watch them play. We did have 3 abandons that went to the rehabber, they survived too. I see that there are 2 out there that are nursing new babies, I will be looking forward to seeing them come out of the trees in a few weeks. I am so glad that we are having an abundance of white oak acorns this fall, it is good news for the Deer, Turkeys, Chipmunks, and Squirrels. :)
Lisa

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 1:48PM
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richardzone7maryland(7b)

I have also noticed a shortage of squirrels, but that is normal for me this time of the year. They seem to prefer acoorns to the birdseed I offer. They will be back once they have gathered all the acorns they can find.

Richard

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 11:41AM
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agardenstateof_mind

NJTea, they all must have come "down the shore" now that the tourist season is over. If it weren't illegal, I'd be happy to send you as many as you'd like, since they are not content to merely raid bird feeders and dig holes in lawn, gardens and planters; chewing through the cedar shakes and ripping off the soffitt panels, they seem bound and determined to take up residence in our attic.
Di

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 4:34PM
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mountain_curmudgeon(4a)

They're up here in the northern Adironacks trying every which way to get my drying sunflower seeds. When I wrapped plastic bags around them to keep the blue jays off, the squirrels ripped them open. When I wrapped wire mesh around the sides and under the seeds, they ate straight down through the tops. When I cut the heads and hung them along the clothesline, the little acrobats shimmied along the rope to reach them.

Now that I finally wised up and put the heads in my van to dry, it seems I will have seed for next years crop. The only problem is the damn car alarm going off in the middle of the night as the squirrels try to jimmy the lock.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 7:38PM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

OMG too funny, I can just see the little guys out there with a flashlight and a screw driver! TTEEEHHEEEE
Lisa

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 4:36PM
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sarahbn(z6Pa.)

I see around the same amount as usual I think. And if I don't I sure can hear them. They are the loudest creature out there besides some neighbor's dog who seems to bark back at them when they do their barking! Sarah

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 7:29AM
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vonyon

Mountain, too funny.
Elaine, very good explanation. I had never thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense.
FCF:Thanks for the update.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 9:14PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

In some forum, maybe not here, I'd posted that I not noticed a mast crop of acorns this year, but I was mistaken.

I've just come in from raking up both acorns from a white oak tree and buckeyes so that when I mow later this week I won't destroy the lawnmower blade.

I have never seen so many acorns and buckeyes and I've certainly never had to resort to raking them!

With the number of white oak acorns I raked one would think that the squirrels would be out there fighting for them because they are preferred over red oak acorns for fall eating. But this has not been the case. In fact, in order to rake them, I had to get down and dislodge them from the soil, because so many had germinated.

I am seeing a bit of squirrel activity in the yard, but not nearly what it should be given the amount of acorns that are out there.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 12:59PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

I was just noticing the sam thing here, NJTea. Huge numbers of acorns, hickory nuts and walnuts, but very few squirrels for the abundance of food available. On the other hand, we are overrun with chipmunks. Not that I mind :)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 9:54AM
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mountain_curmudgeon(4a)

The little thieves have given up on the sunflower heads secured inside my van and are now eating their way through the one pumpkin remaining from this year's harvest.

Never seen them eat a pumpkin before.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 3:58PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I have very few here...if any. I heard from a neighbor that there is something (disease) that is killing them off right now. I've never seen walnuts not being picked up b4...just no squirrels around close to get them.

I will try to contact the local DNR and see what they can tell me and will report some.

Sue...who misses the squirrels and their antics

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 5:04PM
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lucky_p

Down here in KY, 2003 was a banner mast crop year - tremendous crops of hickories, walnuts, acorns. But 2004 was a near-total bust - I didn't see a single acorn, hickory nut or pecan, and very few walnuts. The 2003 mast crop resulted in a boom in squirrel numbers, but the lack of nuts/acorns in 2004 caused numbers to drop precipitously - I presume many starved, died of disease, or became easy prey in their search for food.
Mast crops this year are pretty decent again - good crops of walnuts & hickories, heavy acorn production on some oaks, while others are still 'taking a year off'. I've got a couple of white oaks close to the house or at the edge of the woods that have covered the ground with acorns - but no squirrel takers. One of the few Southern red oaks in the pasture that is producing acorns this year, near the woods' edge, has its acorns snatched up by bushy-tailed tree rats almost as soon as they hit the ground.
Personally, I'm pleased to see low squirrel numbers - gives me a better shot at getting the good hickory nuts & pecans before they do.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 12:01AM
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mountain_curmudgeon(4a)

>Where are the squirrels?

Here they are. Earlier, I saw them climbing up the aluminum birdfeeder pole, bullying the sparrows and chickadees.

Just a few minutes ago, I noticed something moving outside my office window and when I glanced over, these guys were standing up on their hind legs, front paws on the glass, peering in at me. No doubt they wanted to see what kind of idiot would smear vegetable oil all over a perfectly good birdfeeder pole.

For now, they seem content to clean up the spilled seed from a hanging feeder directly overhead. I'm sure they'll concoct some scheme soon to climb the glass to reach it.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 4:34PM
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