A One-Eyed Squirrel

It had been a long spell since we had seen our squirrel kids, Punkin and Buddy, come to the back porch. I sometimes saw Buddy down at the deer feeders with lots of other male squirrels in the early mornings and occasionally caught sight of him at the wildlife water tub getting a drink in the evening. He seemed to do well in the immediate area around our home and, during the winter months, he holed up with other squirrels in the “squirrel tree” just south of the house. I found him this spring in a leaf nest just south of the burn pile, and another day this summer I caught him lazily lying flat on a branch about eight feet up, cooling himself in the shade just west of the wildlife feeders. Punkin was more likely to visit during rainy weather. I knew she had made her home north of here in our neighbor’s woolly backyard. Many times I had watched her take off with a pecan in her mouth, and followed her trail high up in the trees to the north until I could no longer see her. We also knew she had produced several litters of babies over the last few years. Both Buddy and Punkin know they can get a pecan snack here in inclement weather but, most of the time, they are content to be wild.

This picture of Buddy was taken last fall after we realized there would be no pecan crop in the orchard. Striped sunflower seeds had to suffice until we could buy pecans from another grower!
Punkin appears to be expecting babies, or she is expecting a very hard winter. She’s much more robust than we’ve ever seen her.

One recent morning, I spotted Punkin on the back porch railing, looking out to the woodlands. I grabbed two pecans and a nut cracker and opened the door quietly, as I had also noticed Mama doe and the triplets down below the slope and did not wish to disturb them. Oddly, Punkin did not turn excitedly and come for her pecan. I spoke her name softly, and the squirrel turned slightly, revealing not Punkin, but a one-eyed squirrel. It quickly exited the porch and ran off down the slope. Worried that maybe it was Punkin and something had happened to her eye, I quickly texted FD. He assured me he had seen the same squirrel and it was neither Punkin or Buddy, but a very tame squirrel none-the-less, finding our porch to be a sanctuary. So knowing FD had seen it frequenting the back porch, I kept a lookout for this squirrel. I hoped to get photos and try to determine if it was a male or female.

I did not have to wait long. Just a couple of days later, there it was, sitting at the same corner post, looking out to the canyon. I quietly opened the porch door and cracked a pecan. The squirrel did not move, and it watched me. After I retreated back into the house, the one-eyed squirrel slowly investigated the nut, and then took off to the squirrel tree with the nut in its mouth. I managed a few quick photos, but nothing clear enough to determine the sex, or anything additional about the missing eye.

At first, this looked like Punkin. She often sits at the corner post on the back porch, looking out to the canyon.
With more of the body in view, the squirrel looked more slender than Punkin, but still seemed tame. I knew it wasn’t Buddy because he has a noticeable notch in his left ear.
It’s the one-eyed visitor! I took these shots through the back porch screen door.
Later, I observed the one-eyed squirrel leaving the “squirrel” tree just south of the house, jumping onto our pool fence, and waiting just a minute before carefully dashing into the woods.

Since we moved here more than eleven years ago, I have seen injuries, handicaps, birth defects, deformities, and mutations in wildlife. I am always amazed and in awe about how resilient the animals seem to be, adapting to a loss or hardship. They accept reality, and move on. Survival demands it. I decided I did not mind leaving an extra pecan out for this one-eyed squirrel. Who knows, it could be a grand-squirrel or great-grand-squirrel of Punkin, or Buddy, or even Frosty for all we know!

© 2018 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


25 thoughts on “A One-Eyed Squirrel

  1. I grew up on Long Island with plenty of squirrels in the neighborhood, and there are lots in Austin as well (including right outside my window), but this is the first account I’ve ever seen of a one-eyed squirrel. Do you have any idea whether it’s congenital or due to an accident?

    Like

    1. Squirrels seem to be prevalent nation-wide. There are always plenty to be seen wherever I’ve been. I really do not know what happened with the eye, especially since I now know it’s a female. Males are often in fights and lose eyes or parts of ears, and have facial scarring. But being a female, I just don’t know what could have occurred. There’s no way to get close to her at this point, though she does seem more tame than most wild squirrels. We’ve raised so many squirrels that it’s possible its one that knows us.

      Like

      1. I guess there’s no way you’ll ever figure out what happened.

        The squirrels that are so common here are fox squirrels, but a few days ago I saw a rock squirrel, a kind that I rarely see here. I have a picture of it scheduled for a few days from now. Do you have rock squirrels there too?

        Like

        1. We have mostly fox squirrels in this part of the state, but just east of us there are gray squirrels and even flying squirrels. I had never heard of the rock squirrels so I did a little research. I’m surprised I have not seen them – their habitat sounds much like what we have to offer in southwestern Oklahoma. Perhaps one day we will see them in this region.

          Like

  2. I enjoy the way your stories unfold Lori, your observations and knowing the familiar ways of the creatures who visit are a delight; the one-eyed squirrel looks healthy from the photos, it is amazing how resilient animals seem to be.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Liz. I’m outdoors a lot, and when I’m not, I have windows to observe wildlife in our yard. This female squirrel is doing well. I have no way of knowing what kind of vision she has, but she seems to be faring well. I see all sorts of handicaps and deformities in nature, and am always amazed at healing and recovery, and how well they adapt to change.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You have such a skill for telling these little stories, Lori. Enjoyed meeting your new little friend! Are you going to have a pecan crop this year? And do you know why you didn’t have one last year?

    Like

    1. Maybe the stories are easy to tell and interesting because I love observing nature and I learn so much in doing so. FD has named this female, Penelope. She continues to come for pecans. Not begging, but she sits in the corner and waits for me to notice her! What a polite guest.

      A pecan fungus called “Scab” and also pecan weevils, ruined the pecan crop last year. Other than that, the trees were laden with pecans, so if we hadn’t had those problems, it would have been a bumper crop year. We cannot locate anyone to manage the orchard. The trees are very old and would require pruning with a machine with a bucket extension (and an operator who knew how to prune these seventy year plus trees), and we would want to maintain it organically, so no pesticides. We already understand that we won’t get a commercial harvester in because the pecans are various types of pecan and not uniform in size. About all we could do is allow folks to come in and pick their own. We are working to sell firewood and also wood for milling. But there is only the two of us to do the work of a crew… so for now, we do what we can and let nature enjoy the wildness of the area. It proved to be a great nursery for momanem this year (mom and them – mama doe and her triplets). 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for explaining about the pecan crop and the problems from last year. You may have written about it and I have missed a post. That’s so good that the area was good for ‘momanem’ 😆💕

        Like

  4. Lovely reading as usual. I enjoy reading about the squirrels since I have raised a few as well but none in a quite a long time. I admire the little one eyed fellow. It is plum cute and I am so glad it has the nerve to know where it can get a hand out. I hope it continues to visit so you can get more pics of him/her.

    As I am writing this, it has begun to rain again and we are due for a 40 degree drop in temperature tonight. Always makes me think of the birds and other wildlife and it there is enough food to support the creatures during a severe winter. The wildlife in your area really have a bonus since they have access to extra food and I bet y’all will have a few squirrels visiting your back porch very soon.

    Like

    1. I finally discovered the one-eyed friend is a female. FD has named her Penelope. Punkin visits occasionally, but because of the coyotes, and the neighbor’s cat, our squirrel population has taken a hit. I used to see ten or so feeding at the deer feeder, but lately there’s just been one or two. I used to see hawks and owls go after them too, but there haven’t been a lot of those around either – likely the summer drought forced much wildlife to seek water closer to the river.

      I haven’t seen Buddy the squirrel in a long while. He would be four years old now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aah, so sad that you have fewer squirrels now. My cats are indoor cats but there is a hawk pair that frequent my general area. However I have lots of squirrels, so many that I thought there was an over population of them,. Since I no longer feed the birds there are not quite as many living in my trees but I still hear them chattering.

        It is great that you still have Punkin visit now and then. I sure hope she can escape all predators and live to be a vey old squirrel.

        Like

        1. Thanks, Yvonne. I hope when it’s time Punkin just goes missing. I see so much death around here with predators, and I think it would be very difficult to see something happen to her. I have wondered about Buddy since he’s not visited for a long time, but then I think about when Punkin was gone for about three months one time and then one day she just showed up. It is often the same with deer. It is all up to Mother Nature. I’m just thankful for so much interaction with them, and opportunities to observe.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Goodness! They are squirrels, not pets! Don’t they invite their friends over if you feed them? After we installed deer fencing around the camellia crops, my colleague would cut off big pieces of the apple trees to put outside the gates for the deer to eat. He felt badly that we could not let them eat the camellias.

    Like

    1. We don’t feed anything enough to keep them around as pets! I think most everything is too wild to want to camp out and stay for long. Even the squirrels we’ve raised will come back occasionally but after a few pecans, they jet off to parts unknown. The call to be wild is very strong!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I lived in town, I lived next door to the biggest valley oak in the Santa Clara Valley. You would think that the squirrels would be happy with that. Yet, the occasionally wanted to live in my home. One moved into the guest room and would not leave! It sometimes came in the dining room to eat breakfast with me! I never determined how he or she was getting it. After a while, I just tolerated it. About that time, he moved along. Did you ever see this?
        https://tonytomeo.com/2018/03/14/timmy-in-the-garden/

        Like

  6. Last week, I noticed a squirrel acting more strange than usual. Our oak puts out huge numbers of acorns each fall. This fellow was harvesting them and not paying any attention to me at all. I clapped my hands and it was unresponsive, then noticed the eye facing me was damaged. It must also be deaf. Going about its business.

    Like

    1. Wow! It does sound like its impaired both ways. I’m just amazed that they manage to avoid predators. I see a lot of males fighting and I wonder if eye loss might be from those skirmishes?

      Like

    2. Wow! It makes you wonder how it’s managed to survive being visually impaired and deaf. I suppose other instinct kicks in just as it does with us. We didn’t have much acorn crop this year. I generally love watching the squirrels harvest acorns and pecans. I did notice the squirrels got most of my apples and pears this year!

      Like

  7. You know how I am about squirrels, and I so enjoyed these photos. And, yes: their adaptability is amazing; this is a great example.

    Still, from the time I saw your title, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about the lyrics from the song:

    “Waiting in the front yard sitting on a log,
    Single-shot rifle and a one-eyed dog
    Yonder come the kinfolk, in the moonlight,
    Louisiana Saturday night.”

    I’m not quite sure how to fit “one-eyed squirrel” in there yet, but I’m working on it.

    Like

  8. If anyone can come up with a song, poem or jingle, you can! Ha ha!

    One of the best men I ever knew was Uncle Jewel from Louisiana. He and I would sit on his front porch early mornings talking about life. His old hunting dog, Tigger, laid lazily next to Jewel’s lawn chair. Just after the sun began to warm things up, here came his “friends”, small ground squirrels looking for a pecan treat. They’d come right up to him and take the nuts carefully from his hand. One of these squirrels was missing a tail, and another had a lame foreleg. Tigger didn’t see a bit interested in those squirrels! Uncle Jewel said it was never hard to make friends with a squirrel. He was right.

    Like

Leave a Comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.