Animals · bird watching · photos

The Extra Special Ones


Every year, at least one injured animal shows up in my yard. They’re the ones I worry about the most. I just want to scoop them up and bring them inside to nurture, heal and protect. Since that’s not at all practical, I just put food out for them and watch out for them as much as I can.

This fall, two special cases showed up, a squirrel with a stiff neck and a Stellar’s Jay with a dangling wing (pictured above).

The Stellar’s Jay, which I named Jasper, (I’m only guessing it’s a male, I can’t actually tell with the jays) can’t pull his wing all the way in. It dangles limply by his side while he hops around. I worried a lot about him at first but he gets around quite well and doesn’t seem to have any trouble flying. His wing doesn’t appear to be improving but he’s still going strong, stealing peanuts from the squirrels and raiding the birdfeeder on a regular basis. His disability doesn’t seem to be slowing him down.

The squirrel’s ailment is more mysterious. She doesn’t appear to be injured; her fur is unmarred, her tail intact, no limping or scarring that I can see, but her head tips to one side when she stops moving. (Again, I’m just guessing on the sex.) When she runs she looks kind of stiff and there’s something odd about all of her movements. I named her Tipsy because of the way her head tips to the side. (All the squirrels around here get names related to any unusual physical attributes – that’s the only way we can tell them apart!) I haven’t been able to get a good picture of Tipsy because she’s kind of skittish, but the picture below shows her tippy-ness.


I hope I am wrong about Tipsy being a girl because everything does seem more difficult for her and I hate to think of her having to raise babies while struggling herself. And then there’s breeding season. Some of the poor females get chased by multiple males for hours and hours. Then again, she seems pretty tough when it comes to interacting with the other squirrels. Maybe she’s the one they all should fear. And maybe she’s a boy. It’s so hard to tell!


18 thoughts on “The Extra Special Ones

    1. I’ll tell Jasper you said he’s gorgeous. The jays love to hear how pretty they are. 🙂 It could be something with Tipsy’s ears. She does look off balance in some of her movements.

  1. That Jay is beautiful and I am glad he manages despite the wing trouble. Maybe the squirrel has a spinal injury or pinched nerve- poor thing. I hate to see injured or wounded animals too.

    1. Thank you. The Canon PowerShot does an okay job of snapshots if the light is good. I’ll still have to use it for bird and squirrel pictures for awhile, until I can save up for the 55-210 mm lens for my new camera.

  2. My last dog had something like what Tipsy is suffering from. It was a balance issue and sometimes referred to as Old Dog Syndrome. She did survive and lived another 3 years but I don’t think that squirrels live as long as dogs.

    1. Poor pups, they can get so many health issues in old age. Our old dog has cataracts, huge fatty tumors and probably arthritis. I’ll have to look up Old Dog Syndrome. I don’t remember hearing of that one before.

  3. I must have missed this post. Stellar Jays are so pretty, I wish we had them here. Poor thing with its wing hanging there like that. 😦 The squirrel could have wry neck, back when we used to raise rabbits we had a little guy who was prone to getting wry neck every so often and we gave him injections for it. Tippy’s tilt doesn’t look too severe so she’s probably managing alright. It’s so hard to see little creatures injured or suffering isn’t it? It makes my heart hurt. 😦

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