Secret Life of Squirrels Part 1: Mother squirrel relocating her babies to a new tree / Photography
I have always loved and adored animals. Animals of all kinds. They make me smile and provoke curiosity. I enjoy watching them in their element, happy and living free. This blog is not only a place to share my favorite recipes but also a place to share my love of nature, travel, and wildlife photography as well.
Since the start of the year I have been photographing a sweet little squirrel who lives in a river birch tree outside of my apartment building. She's always in and out of the tree working on her nest and occasionally resting on tree branches. I recently posted a favorite photo of her catching some z's here. Matt and I live on the middle floor of the building so we have a perfect view of all the happenings going on in and around the tree. Our balcony is about 10-15 feet from the tree trunk so just stepping out on to our porch offers easy photography opportunities.
On Friday September 31st, I got home from an appointment in the morning around 9:00 AM and immediately took Mr. Truck out for a walk. As we were walking down the stairs to the ground floor, I saw her running to the back of the building with something huge in her mouth. It looked like a big ball. Trucky and I ran after her to see what the heck was in her mouth.
When we finally caught up with her, I saw what I thought was a chipmunk in her mouth because the tail resembled a chipmunk to me. I definitely thought that was very odd but after a few seconds I realized that couldn't be right. Squirrels do not eat chipmunks. No. So I got even closer to her as she was climbing up the tree and realized she had a baby in her mouth and was relocating it to a new nest. WOW! Unreal!
I immediately ran back inside with Mr. Truck and grabbed my camera and the 18-140mm zoom lens and waited on my balcony to see if she would come back. Low and behold she did. After a few minutes here she comes, flying around the corner. She gets to the top of the tree and grabs a baby and comes right back down. And she is going so darn fast that a lot of my photos are out of focus.
I run to the back of the building and quietly wait for her behind a tree trunk. Yay! Here she comes with the baby in her mouth. I'm just shocked at what I'm seeing and praying for a good photo. Sweating and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, I hustle. She sees me and pauses but then resumes her trek. She crosses over a bed of pine straw and up the tree she goes, baby in tow. Oh it's so adorable.
This happens another time so my photos series is of her retrieving two babies. After I'm done shooting (which was about 45 minutes), I am just literally drenched in sweat. It was soooooo worth it though. I love the photos I got so much. Some of my favorite I've ever taken. I had no clue squirrels relocated their babies. I learned a lot and got some amazing photos in the process.
I have since done research on this behavior and it's very common. Squirrels usually have their babies in the late Winter and Summer. A litter of around 3-4 babies will be born. The mother squirrel will often relocate her young, one by one, around 6 weeks of age to one of several nests she has already pre-built around the immediate area. This happens if she feels threatened or if the nest has become infested with fleas. So neat.
It was an amazing moment to witness and photograph. I think the photos are so cool and very unique and shows how hard a mother will work to protect her young. Her jaw strength and determination is intriguing. Her love as a mother is heartwarming and endearing. Squirrels are resilient little creatures and I love them so much. I hope you enjoyed this little photo story!