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.
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.
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!
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