A few evenings ago, my husband and I were sitting on the deck talking when I happened to notice movement in the trees next to the deck. I looked over to discover that we were being watched. A squirrel was perched in a branch next to the deck.
It looked really cute hugging the tree branch so I went to get my camera. Surprisingly, the squirrel stayed and kept listening to us.
When Don talked, it turned toward him.
When I talked, it turned toward me.
It looked like a young squirrel to me and I have a theory about young suburban squirrels: I think they’re lonely when they first get booted out of their mother’s nest. The young ones hang around and watch and listen a lot more than the older ones do.
It’s something I first noticed the summer of 2003, but with a young one-eyed raccoon that we named One Eye. (Such an imaginative name. Ha!) She showed up every day about three o’clock and she stayed all night, or at least until we went to bed. When I sat in the swing we had on the deck, she sat on the other end of the deck. When I went into the yard, she followed along on the fence. When I went inside, she sat just outside the sliding glass door, looking in, sometimes leaning right up against it. She just wanted to be near me.
I’ve noticed the same thing with the squirrels, although being busy little creatures they don’t lounge around for hours and hours like my raccoon friend did. But the young ones do hang around a lot. They watch. They listen. They clown around, doing cute things outside the door to get my attention. Then, after they have babies of their own, they become all business. It’s what happened with my darling Shorty. He was such a friendly little guy the first year he was here but now he doesn’t even glance my way when I talk to him. Sometimes he doesn’t even stop by for months at a time. My little watcher in the woods will be the same. Next year, he might stop by to raid the stash once in awhile but he won’t pause to hang out near us.
This is why I don’t worry about the squirrels becoming too dependent. They know what to do. And they know where to leave their youngsters – with me! I’m happy to keep them company during those first lonely months out of the nest.