Here's a new guest entry from my grandfather in B.C.:
Several times in earlier years I have commented in detail on the habits of squirrels which make these vermin such an attractive and often delightful interest.
Once I described working under my tall Douglas firs and being bombarded by falling fir cones which the squirrels were knocking off so as then to descend and bury them as winter food stocks. My own presence below was regarded as unwarranted interference with their job and caused much noisy chattering and complaining.
This year there is a new phenomenon. The squirrels are not as is normal waiting for the fir cones to ripen, go brown and open up so that the seeds therein can be extracted and eaten. Instead they are knocking them down while still green, tight and sticky and so unripe as to be of no possible use now or later.
As before the squirrels seem actually to bother to bury only about one in every fifty they knock down – and then undoubtedly promptly forget where they did this – and ignore the rest. Without the piles I provide they would go hungry in winter. Meanwhile I have been busy on several days this last week sweeping about a thousand a time off the lawn so that grass can be cut. There will be more to come.
What makes them go to all this trouble with fir cones that are useless to them? Why don’t they wait a few weeks for them to ripen? Has the bad summer delayed ripening while the squirrels work to a set calendar? Or have they just forgotten the rules or are they a new generation which has been improperly trained by its parents? Or is it just a natural instinct gone wrong? Someone is bound to blame it on global warming.
And while a ripe fir cone falling one one’s head from a great height is just a nuisance a much heavier solid green one can hurt – as well as leave a sticky resinous residue on hair or shirt.