About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Where Did All Our Squirrels Go?

About 10 days ago, our ample back yard squirrel population of gray, black, fox, piney, and nocturnal flying squirrels suddenly disappeared from our feeders.  Virtually overnight.  We live on the Lake Michigan shoreline two miles north of Hoffmaster state park.  Any idea why?   

Just because you do not see them does not mean they are not there. Squirrel populations fluctuate naturally due to a number of environmental factors, like the availability of food, water and shelter, predation, illnesses, and the number of young.

In the fall squirrels must acquire a territory and midden, food storage area, prior to bad weather to survive. Family time is over and all the juveniles must compete for a territory, or find a new one.

Right now there is a lot of food being dropped from trees and other plants. Squirrels are excited about all the fruit nuts and berries available. They're looking
furiously for a territory, munching and hiding food to prepare for winter.

And just like in the spring when they are moving around looking for mates, in the fall they are planning for winter and sometimes forget to look both ways before crossing the street. I’m watching a black squirrel right now cross the busy road in front of the Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing store with two black walnuts in his mouth. He can barely see past these huge treasures he’s found but fortunately he’s made it across safely today. Last year I had a squirrel that would knock on the window every day at 4 pm for a nut. Stubby was a clever boy with only half a tail but I haven’t seen him this year.

A squirrel’s average lifespan in the wild is 7 months. If they survive their first year their average life expectancy goes up to 2.3 years with a maximum lifespan of around eight years in the wild. Squirrels may also become prey for large hawks and owls or die through misadventure, illness or human factors.

Do the squirrels know something we don’t? According to the Farmer’s almanac, early and frantic movement of squirrels collecting nuts is one of the signs of a hard winter ahead. In fact their 2013-2014 prediction is biting cold and snowy winter for Michigan. See the full Farmer's Almanac report: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/weather/2013/08/25/2014-us-winter-forecast/   

Related Articles:
- How do I keep squirrels off my bird feeders? http://bit.ly/yiZsML
- Squirrel proof bird feeder reviews http://bit.ly/waJs9o
- Why are Squirrels Called Squirrels? http://bit.ly/yhktkr
- How many species of squirrels are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/yYt6Nb
- Black Squirrel History & Facts http://bit.ly/AxiqPz
- Squirrel Fun Facts http://goo.gl/M3mT2M
- Why squirrels chew http://bit.ly/AjVzFW


Anonymous said...

We live in Connecticut and we always have constant activity from the squirrels on our bird feeders and in the yard. Last week they seem to have disappeared. We still have plenty of food and water sources. Very strange.

Anonymous said...

I have had families of squirrels living in trees around me for years. For the first time I have had no squirrels to the feeder for about 3 weeks.!!!! I live in NW Ohio

Anonymous said...

We live in Indiana and have been feeding our squirrels for 37 years and now...they have all disappeared...we live on the edge of 1200 acres of woods...