On a cold winter day

All day today, as I’ve sat at work at my computer, I’ve been entertained by a continual stream of wildlife in the large holly tree outside my office window. All morning, two or three grey squirrels (sometimes two, sometimes three), were doing acrobatics in the tree, scampering down the slender branches to get the few remaining berries, chasing each other. For much of the time, one of them seemed to be chasing one other. February to March is breeding season for our eastern grey squirrel; maybe I was watching a male pursuing a female. If so, she didn’t seem interested–when he chased her to the end of a branch, she leaped right over him to get away.

Right now a mixed-species foraging flock composed primarily of chickadees and titmice is occupying the tree. “Occupying” is not the right word: they’re energetically picking at the branches while simultaneously practicing gymnastics. Both these species, which are closely related, primarily eat insects, although they do eat some seeds and even feed from animal carcasses when they find them. Both species are cavity nesters; they use nest holes previously excavated by woodpeckers. So leave snags (dead trees) and dead branches in place as long as they’re not endangering anyone.


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