[Tweeters] RE: Doug squirrel caching

Angela Percival angela at stillwatersci.com
Thu Dec 18 14:05:41 PST 2008

Rob, you always see the coolest things!
You know, I have an older female Doug squirrel at my house that I can
recognize by her short tail, and that has been here at least three
summers. (Last year I think she raised three litters with the help of my
sunflower seeds!) About twice a year, during a very restricted period of
time, she takes sunflower seeds from the feeder on my porch just a short
distance to a large raised bed in front of the porch. She always does it
one seed at a time. The holes are usually about as deep as allows her
little back feet to stay up top. Once she is done, she carefully pats it
all back nicely. And then, since one of these periods is in the spring,
they sprout up like a weird mass of green tentacles. She never actually
seems successful at caching since they always sprout, but she repeats
the same behavior each year. I have wondered why they only carry one
seed at a time too. I have not seen my yard Steller's jays try to raid
these caches--I feel sorry for your squirrel!

Angela, on a mammal tangent
Olympia, WA
Angela at Stillwatersci dot com

Message: 34
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2008 11:36:17 -0800
From: "Rob Sandelin" <floriferous at msn.com>
Subject: [Tweeters] Stellars jay pilfers a squirrel cache
To: "'tweets'" <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Message-ID: <BLU0-SMTP3231AB47C2C28BD1A91167A3F30 at phx.gbl>
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With eight inches of snow today the bird feeder is a happening scene.
As I
refilled the feeder I dumped a bunch of seed on the ground and a Douglas
squirrel has spent the morning caching seed. It must be its first winter
because hops over grabs a sunflower seed and does about 4 hops, which
maybe 4 feet, then it tucks the seed into the hole in the snow. Over and
over again it bounces back and forth, industriously caching food. A
Steller's Jay sits on a nearby branch watching the whole show and after
several minutes of contemplation it joins the fray, swooping down with a
flourish of wings. The squirrel dashes for cover and the jay leisurely
strolls over to the seed cache, and in a few minutes gobbles up the
squirrels work, much to the consternation of the worker who sits on a
branches yelling out insults at the thief.

The jay departs and the squirrel goes back to work only to have the
thing repeated about 15 minutes later. I am now wondering if this will
on all day or will the squirrel eventually wise up? A great study
out the window on a snowy day.

Rob Sandelin
Naturalist, Writer, Teacher
Snohomish County, WA
NW natural history at:

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