Sunday, January 20, 2013

Now Where Did I Put That Acorn...?

Eastern Gray Squirrel is as common as can be in our neck of the woods. On a sunny winter day like today, as many as eight or ten are active within view of the back door. As a scatter hoarder, it plays an important role in seed dispersal. Early each spring, dozens of miniature oak trees spring forth from our yard thanks to the squirrels' habit of stashing surplus acorns singly in the loose soil all around the yard during the fall. 

The memory required of a scatter hoarder is prodigious, and fortunately these guys have it, else we'd have thousands, not dozens, of small oak trees to pluck from the lawn each spring.

Squirrels and other rodents are not alone in hoarding or caching food for later use. A few months back, Hoot Owl Karma encountered another animal which engages in hoarding behavior, the loggerhead shrike.  This morning, while peering into the upper branches of a dogwood, we spied evidence of just this sort of avian caching.

No idea how long this lone hopper has been stored in the birds' open air larder, but upon close inspection, it appears to be holding up just fine until the industrious feathered impaler returns for its meal.

Wonder if there are rules regarding stealing another's stash...?

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