Friday, January 28, 2011

Leaping squirrels!

   Anyone with a bird feeder has squirrel problems—and that includes fruit feeders in Costa Rica because tropical squirrels love bananas as much as northern squirrels love sunflower seeds and are just as gluttonous. Bananas are quite inexpensive close to the source so we put out as many as 8 in one day if we are home all day. The birds come in droves. We've had 16 different species come to the feeder. Now that the trees I planted nearby are large, birds feel much safer hanging out nearby. Here's a big flock of Blue-gray tanagers.
 The Güitite trees (Acnistus arborescens) themselves provide a lot of fruit during part of the year. They are in the Solanaceae family and their fruits look like tiny tomatoes. They provide nectar to hummingbirds and attract many insects, also eaten by the birds.  The squirrels see their branches as convenient super highways to run along the branches so they leap onto the bird feeder.
  Here's a Palm tanager and a Blue-gray tanager at the feeder.
  The squirrels here are a tropical species called the Variegated Squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides) which means they come in different color combinations in different parts of Costa Rica. Our local variety is very handsome. Our tactics to defend the bananas against the squirrels include running out on the balcony waving a broom and yelling. I like to yell "Jump!" and see them perform like trained monkeys...I mean trained squirrels.
 Unfortunately they still require some training: sometimes I have to push the squirrel with the broom. Mr. Rududu's preferred weapon is a pea shooter. I was worried it would hurt the squirrels but even when he makes a direct hit they don't really seem to care that much and only retreat for a few seconds. And truth be told, Mr. Rududu needs more practice with the pea shooter.  The sling shot was a total bust due to problems with accuracy.
  All this jumping makes a squirrel very tired. Sometimes he just needs to lay on a branch and take a siesta.


Grand Purl Baa said...

Beaut photos.

Carolina said...

Thanks. The bird photos are as usual by Mr. Rududu.