Houdini the Ground Squirrel

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Hi everyone,

Yesterday when I refilled the three bird feeders with safflower seeds, I accidentally spilled a cupful or so onto the grass below the feeders. I figured it would stir some activity among the squirrels and ground squirrels so I kept an eye on the area when I was on the patio.

As expected, a young squirrel showed up early and stayed, tail curled above its head, jaws grinding happily away. But what caught my eye was our two resident ground squirrels, who lead separate lives except during breeding season. I know where one comes and goes through an opening to its burrow hidden in the fern bed that grows around the back steps. But the other seems to simply vanish at the far end of the pool. It’s there, it’s not, it’s back. I watched for some time as that one made repeated runs across the width of the patio. At the seed cache under the maple tree where the feeders hang, it would fill its cheeks, then run like the devil the length of the pool, dash around to the far side of our spa, and disappear behind the roughly two inch height of the cover. It just wasn’t possible. Our patio is entirely covered by concrete pavers.

I finally walked over to look at the pavers behind the spa cover. There’s about a foot of space between the cover and the outside wall to our bedroom. Where we had the spa repaired years ago the workmen left a slight crack between two of the pavers. Otherwise, the area is without blemish. Yet I’d seen the ground squirrel come and go from behind the privacy of the spa cover from that very spot. I went inside, stood beside a window that gave me a good view, waited for the creature to come dashing back from the feeder, and watched with amazement as it stopped at the crack, shoved its head down through it, wriggled its furry body back and forth for three or four seconds, and miraculously managed to squeeze through the crack and disappear below.

I stood with my camera ready and pointed at the crack as moments passed. I was ready to quit when the nose reappeared. I marveled to watch the whole animal materialize and go dashing off toward the feeder and all those free safflower seeds there for the taking. Once again I had been royally entertained and educated by a citizen of Goose Lake.