If you read this column last spring you might remember that my husband, Neil, and I were blessed with enjoying a drey of baby squirrels. They were born in a nest in the tree in our front yard but the tree they loved most was the Magnolia in the backyard. Branches in that tree are closer together and for agile little critters it was the perfect jungle gym for their squirrelly training. They entertained us for hours as we sat on our patio and watched them grow.
Those squirrels have spread throughout the neighborhood and beyond yet the mother squirrel showed up many times afterward to ask for food. We stopped putting the corn cobs out for her after she used the stuffing from our porch cushions to make her babies’ nest nicer, but I could tell when she was pregnant again and counted the time down for our fall delivery of baby squirrels.
They are here. Originally, there were six babies but a hawk had one for a meal and I believe we are at five now.
The littlest squirrel of the group is a darling. I imagine it is a girl because she’s so petite. I give her extra of everything and especially love. From the first day out of the nest she wanted to come right up to me as if I would pick her up and protect her. I discouraged her from getting too friendly but in turn I make sure she has plenty of water and food when the rest of the pack is eating under the bird feeder.
We arrived home from church Sunday to find the hawk in the backyard feasting on squirrel number six. The littlest one was standing out in the open apparently shell shocked at the large bird’s descent and capture of her sibling. Her big eyes were bulging with fear. She would not move out of the open even when we tried to push her toward the tree for cover. When Neil returned to the truck for an errand, she ran after him for protection and he guided her under the car to hide.
I spoke to the hawk the next day after he had finished another meal, this time a pigeon. He was about 6 feet from the bird feeder where the squirrels eat and I explained that the little critters at my feet were mine and he’d answer to me if he ate any more of them. I’m not sure he understood what I said but he politely waited until I finished before he flew off.
That is when I noticed that he had a defective leg. I had seen him jumping earlier rather than walking. So, here is another of God’s creatures that is trying to get enough food in him while he is unable to capture it properly. He is a large hawk and needs bigger game to survive. Now I am feeling sorry for him as well as the babies.
From their small size, I am speculating that the squirrels left the nest earlier than usual as mom could no longer take care of all six. She was a tiny animal herself and the feedings may have done her in. I have not seen her since they arrived.
The tiniest and hungriest has learned how to climb the Magnolia tree and walk out on the thinnest limbs to enter the “squirrel-proof” bird feeder. She is small enough to get through the cage bars. I can’t bring myself to chase her out of the feeder because she certainly can use the extra food. She sits on the bottom of the cage gorging herself at the feeder’s openings. Besides, in my mind, she is at least safe from the hawk while she is in the cage.
You may know that I pray about everything and so I ask God to protect the littlest squirrel when I cannot. Of course, God knows exactly what she needs and is providing it either through me or otherwise. He is also providing food for the hawk.
At this point, I am hoping that the pigeons are more to the hawk’s taste than squirrels but I’m not in charge, God is.
It is always a privilege to take care of God’s creation whenever He allows me to assist. I love helping people as much as little critters and I feel blessed to be able to use the talents He has given me to do what He asks.
When God places bodies before me and asks me to watch over and help whether it be hungry humans at the food cupboard or tiny critters, of course, I say, “Yes, it is my joy.” And, “Thank you Lord for trusting me to do this task.”
ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City. Email her at writerGoodGod@gmail.com.