[Tweeters] A winter wren and a douglas squirrel

Rob Sandelin floriferous at msn.com
Sun Nov 18 13:09:02 PST 2007

I was messing around outside today doing some clean up and I was joined by a
very companionable winter wren. The bird poked around the underside of my
deck, under boards and immediately after I had moved some stuff around it
moved in to investigate, coming fearlessly close. I was reminded of how
cattle egrets follow cows around to pick up insects they disturb the ground
and so to test my notion I moved a couple of boxes that I would not normally
have messed with. Sure enough, the wren moved right to that spot and as I
stood nearby and watched, did a thorough search and then nabbed a spider. A
bit later, while restacking a woodpile, the wren began to give its alarm
call and I looked up to find both the wren, and a Douglas squirrel watching
me. The wren was very agitated, alarm calling and moving all around the
squirrel which sat and patiently waited for me to get out of the way.
Curious to see what the two of them would do, and expecting the wren to have
to take second fiddle to the squirrel, I backed off the woodpile and waited.
The wren immediately moved in and explored where I moved some wood around,
popping up several times to chip at the squirrel. After about a minute the
two animals changed placed, with the squirrel exploring the woodpile and the
wren perched almost exactly where the squirrel had been sitting.

I wondered if the squirrel was using the wren to test the safety of this
situation, since I doubt the two of them share any food items in common.

Rob Sandelin
Naturalist, Writer
Snohomish County, WA

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