Friday, January 27, 2012

Midnight Visitor

I had a very special visitor come to my bird feeder a few nights ago. A Flying Squirrel! These amazing creatures are supposedly fairly common here in the Eastern North American forests, it is just that they are so good at remaining unseen by humans, that we rarely if ever get to see them in the wild. So, I was thrilled to see this lovely visitor right at my kitchen window! The photo is not very good because the squirrel moves very fast and I did not want to use a flash for the photo because it might hurt its very sensitive eyes. We have owls here and this guy would have been temporarily blinded if I had used a flash, so, the compromise means we have blurry pics.

What a tail !!! Flying squirrels use their big, flattish tails much like the tail of a kite is used to stabilize the kite in flight. The squirrel is bigger than you might think... I estimated it is slightly bigger than a red squirrel. Here the Squirrel has backed right up to the glass which is why the tail looks a bit flattened to the right.

Here, the Squirrel is bumped right up against the glass with his rump. Here also you can see the large fold of skin which is between the front legs and the back ones. When the Squirrel launches itself, it does not actually fly, but glides from tree to tree or tree to ground. They often look like a handkerchief flying by if you happen to be lucky enough to see one at night. They don't seem to mind humans too least the ones I have here are that way. I've been outside gardening in the late evening and have seen these guys leaping from tree to tree...coming quite close at times. Once, I found a nest of babies. It was in the hollow of a big maple tree right along my driveway. The hole was just low enough for me to peek inside regularly and watch their progress. Perhaps this guy was one from that nest, I'd like to think so!

It was such a thrill to see this spunky creature. Even though it was right by my kitchen sink, separated only by the glass and it could see every move I made, it did not seem to be too bothered by long as there were seeds to eat!!


Carolyn said...

I'm a week late reading this post - been meaning to check your blog, just hadn't gotten here. Now I have to comment about flying squirrels. They are the sweetest creatures! Back in 1989 Hurricane Hugo blew down a nest with three baby flying squirrels in it that our golden retriever found in the yard. We raised the two that survived and 'taught' them to 'fly' by letting them jump to us and moving farther away each time. We made a home for them on our screened porch with a nest box, a tree limb, and a high run along the length of the porch. They were always happy to see me and would come to me if I called and held out my hand. Our boys and their friends enjoyed playing with them. We kept them for years - they were too domesticated to let go into the wild. Every now and then their cousins would visit - down a chimney or from the attic, but we always escorted those back to the outside. They are the most charming and adorable of creatures.

Sally J Smith, Environmental Artist said...

Oh Carolyn, what an amazing story!! Thank you so much for sharing it! I cannot imagine how it must feel to have one of these creatures in one's hand...they look to have the finest fur I have ever seen. It must be incredibly soft. How wonderful for your family to have had such a long and up-close relationship with these amazing creatures...thank you so much for telling us about this! And...I'm not one bit jealous...nope...not one teensie bit..not at all. ;-)


Carolyn said...

You are right. Their fur is incredibly soft and silky. I was remembering the feel of it as I looked at your pictures. Even the wild ones don't seem to be particularly afraid of us, and they'll probably get used to you if they keep coming to your feeder and you happen to be up to see them. And maybe you could get them to eat our of your hand. They're so cute the way they reach out and grasp the seed and hold it between their two front paws. They will eat a ton of sunflower seeds, though!

Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.