I swear, it took one more look at me, then proceeded to run across the grass to my tree and scritch-scritch-scritch up and around the branches to me. I so love having squirrel friends who recognize me! I couldn't tell which one it was, though. Nuts, monkey? it indicated. I shook some trail mix into my palm and held it out. A little warily, it sniffed at my fingers, then selected a nut.
It retreated a foot or two up the branch and munched its way through the nut then came back for another one. A couple of repetitions of this, with a few intervals where it would dash off to bury an almond then come back for more, and pretty soon it didn't feel the need to retreat very far to eat.
Hey, wait. That squirrel's left ear is split vertically, making a little V-shaped notch. That's a pretty distinctive injury — I think I'd remember seeing it before. If I had. Which I don't think I have. I sent Pirate a text message:
Do we know a squirrel with a split left ear? Came running from 50 feet away when I went tch-tch-tch.(I checked the distance on Google Maps when I got home and it was closer to 75 feet — I think I was underestimating so as not to brag about how irresistible I am to squirrels. Heh.) A minute or two my phone chimed with his reply:
The squirrel continued munching away on the nuts, rummaging through the trail mix on my hand when he'd finished the one he was working on. Raisin, bah. Raisin, raisin, raisin... cashew? Nah. Ooh, walnut! *nom nom nom*
Okay, so let's consider this. Here's a squirrel I don't remember ever having fed before, yet when I go Tch-tch-tch! from 75 feet away and rattle the plastic container, it comes running towards me to get fed?
People, these beasties are communicating with each other. You've probably heard of the hundredth monkey effect. It only took five squirrels.
I, for one, welcome our new squirrel overlords. And clearly it's time to go update the Oakland Mystical Nexus entry — I don't think the current version says anything about fox squirrels. (Did you know that their bones and teeth glow red?)