late July/early August

Rescuing baby rodents:

A miniature mouse (deer or white-footed) popped out from a gap at the bottom of the basement stairs, as surprised as I was to see it, which gave me time to grab the wastepaper basket and shoo it into it using a handy towel. Of course it was a woven cane basket so it kept climbing up inside but I was able to shake it down again for long enough to get out the back door and release it under the cedar tree.

As if we need more grey squirrels! I have watched for at least a couple of weeks as a small grey squirrel with smart white front built a nest barely 10′ above the deck at the end of the lowest branches of the cedar tree in front of the dining room window. From its size and smart, unmarked coat I assume the squirrel is in its first season so presumed the nest to be some kind of roost. Although fairly safe from predators at the end of the branch, the whole edifice looked insecure and proved to be so when half of it thudded to the deck in a light breeze at lunchtime. The squirrel emerged and ran back up the tree to check the remains of the nest before returning to the clump of nest on the deck where it pushed its way inside, rummaged around and settled down, apparently unaware it was on the deck.

R went out to investigate, gently lifting some of the material with a cane and the squirrel shot out, back up the tree. He looked into the nest and saw two babies so we transferred it – and them – into a large plastic pot with drainage holes and wedged it in the tree near the remains of the original nest. The babies had the beginnings of some fuzz although they were pink and curled up with eyes closed. However, the strange squeaky whine I had heard in the past few days was explained – even squirrels this young will protest vociferously!

We returned indoors to watch and after some minutes, the mother returned, had a hissy fit outside the remaining bits of nest in the tree and then ventured down to investigate the remains on the deck. I was surprised how long it took her to locate the babies in their nest in the pot as we’d put it quite close to the original nest site and I assumed she’d smell and possibly hear them. After cautiously climbing into the pot, she emerged with a baby in her mouth and ran off up the tree so we left her to it.

An hour or so later, some of the nest lining materials had been pulled out through the drainage holes at the base of the pot, so she’d obviously returned again, hopefully for the second baby. Looking at surrounding trees, I saw a second nest about 15′ above the original, at the end of a branch of the basswood behind the cedar, so suspect the family has relocated there.