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!