Only a hundred feet or so down the trail from where I'd been photographing the tamarack from my last post, I spotted a fresh pileated woodpecker excavation in a dying black cherry. I stopped and pulled out my camera--you never know when you may want to put a pileated excavation in a piece of artwork--and took a picture.
I noticed then some movement on the ground at the base of the tree and looked to see a red squirrel with a bundle of leaves in its mouth, apparently preparing a winter nest.
Instead of making its way to the pileated hole, it went up a different trunk and into a hole most likely made from a branch that had broken off years ago. Shortly after entering the squirrel reappeared but hung out around the entrance. I think I'd been spotted, and the little squirrel seemed reluctant to leave its nest site.
After a minute or so it moved down to the opening and went inside...
...then turned and popped it's head out.
I know many people are not fans of these little squirrels, but I find them to be quite attractive and full of personality. Their cinnamon coloring with the black stripe down each side and white belly reminds me of a 60's muscle car, and if you've ever watched one run through the tree canopy you'd think that description wasn't far off. They seem to be more gregarious than the other squirrels and more apt to stick around and defend their territory than their cousins.
We used to get them in the attic at the house in Ann Arbor, where they'd chewed through the cedar siding at the base of a dormer. Apparently they could not get back out as we'd see one scampering along one of the attic's widow sills, frantic, back and forth, and would have to go up and open a window to let it out. Then there was the time one got into the house and we trapped it in Lisa's office, chasing it in circles as it motored across bookshelves, the computer desk, across the widow sills and up the blinds, around and around for a good five minutes before it, purely by chance, fell into a box and we scooped it up and ran it outside.
Here at home they are the one animal we have been unable to keep off our balcony and out of the bird feeders we have there, but I figure anything clever enough to outwit us deserves a reward.