My squirrels and owls.

“They all cook up in that gravy,” was my friend’s only response when I sent him this article on:  the squirrels of California. He was the one who had prompted my research, when a couple of days previous he looked through the window and drew my attention to an orange-tinged squirrel looking cute as it raided the suet feeder. He continued with stories and recipes from various times he’d shot squirrels and cooked them into stew, from childhood to recently.

Only in the last two years have I ever seen squirrels of any species on my property, though they are thick in the trees along the creek a block away.

Earlier this month the suet feeder was knocked to the ground, presumably by one of these critters. As you can see, I’ve now criss-crossed the S-hooks to make everything more convenient for both of us. It is easy for my squirrel friend to access the rich food while hanging from the stable arbor, and it keeps me from having to clean up a spilled feeder. This guy looks like a Fox Squirrel, which is not native. Only Sciurus griseus, the western gray squirrel, is native to California, and I haven’t seen them in my garden lately.

As I was already in the store buying a new block of suet, I picked up one more suet cage as well, bringing my total to three. They seem to be the easiest way to draw a few more birds here, since I took down my hopper feeder because of the avian salmonella outbreak two years ago. I could put it back now, but I haven’t put my mind to the project of maintaining it and filling it, etc…

I’m happy to report that lots of birds come, too, to the suet feeders, the fountain, to the thousand plants in the garden, and to the tiny insects that live on the plants and in the trees. It’s funny to see the hummingbirds check out the pomegranate bushes, which in this season have nothing for them to drink; it must be the fading red of the rotting fruit that draws their attention. As soon as the flowers come, the hummingbirds (and the carpenter bees) will be there.

I’m always excited when a Nuttal’s Woodpecker drops by, because it’s not very often. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any other species of woodpecker here. They are too quick for me to photograph them, so I took this photo from online.

The Great Horned Owl hooted nearby the other night — it is the most thrilling visitor of all. For years now I’ve thought of having someone build a platform up in my pine tree, to be ready by November. That way, when the owls are scouting around in advance of nesting in January or February, they can take note of it. So… maybe by next fall?

by Carl Brenders

9 thoughts on “My squirrels and owls.

  1. That owl is a stunner! I notice birds are hitting the suet far more than the seed feeders, too. And the squirrels — they’re crafty. I guess they’re hungry too but they do get a bit annoying at the feeder.


  2. We’ve had very few squirrels in the garden this winter. I’m thinking Miss Kitty keeps them away. Oh to have an Owl nesting nearby!!


  3. I’m a sucker for squirrels. Every morning and twice in very cold weather the shelled peanuts get distributed, along with sunflower chips. I have both Fox and Eastern Grays; here, the Grays also are called cat squirrels because of their cat-like, mewling sound. Of course you can hear it online!


    1. That squirrel sound is completely unfamiliar to me, which makes me think that the Eastern Grays are not in my neighborhood. I know they are in California, but it must be the native Western Grays that are so numerous in the trees along the creeks. Thanks! I still haven’t been down there to look around, since researching.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an acrobat! I miss the squirrels we would see daily in OH. They ate our peaches as soon as they ripened and were bothersome. In upstate NY we have only seen a few, none on our property. Our neighbors have many oak trees, also no squirrels. In the fall, the collected all their acorns in a wheelbarrow and we fed them to our pigs!


  5. Those squirrels are resourceful for sure. We see a few red squirrels here. When we lived on the Seattle side of the Cascades we had a lot of grey squirrels. My sister, who lives in Texas, just sent a photo of the patio cushions that the squirrels in their neighborhood destroyed to get to the foam padding. I’m still waiting to see any kind of owl in the wild. Maybe we should build a platform in one of our trees. Pretty woodpecker!


  6. I smiled when you called them “my squirrels and owls”. Isn’t that something that we take ownership in the wildlife that visit regularly? Now as for squirrels, in the country we have very few, but when we lived in the suburbs they were known as nuisances. I would make myself concentrate of their cuteness in order not to want to put them in stews and such! More emphasis on such!
    Oh, we are hearing the owls too, I know the thrill!


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