National Squirrel Appreciation Day, celebrated January 21, was founded in 2001 by North Carolina wildlife rehabilitator Christy McKeown. Richard Thorington of the Smithsonian Museum gives us some ideas how to celebrate here, but we suggest putting some extra special food treats out. It’s the middle of the winter and all our animal friends have a long wait until spring. Why bother? Well, not everyone is as lucky as you. Seth Kugel writes in the New York Times, “Amazed visitors from many countries say they have never seen squirrels before…hordes of tourists stop en masse to snap pictures. One such newcomer was a squirrel novice when she emigrated from Beijing 14 years ago. ”I only knew these animals in the cartoons,” she said. Minutes later, a group of young tourists from the Philippines stopped. ”It’s considered a rodent here, right? We’re fascinated by it.” Here we see a red-bellied woodpecker and a blue jay getting ready for the big day.
Here at the edge of the wood we remember our favorite founding father, scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin. In a letter to his daughter he stated his preference for the wild turkey. He wrote, “I am on this account not displeased (about) a Bald Eagle…. for the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.” We admire the wild turkeys. They are curious, fearless, love a good get together, and have beautiful feathers suitable for any social occasion.
Here at the edge of the wood we have come to realize squirrels seem to love a good park, well, who doesn’t? The White House sits at the center of an 82 acre park. The very special squirrels who live there have had a profound relationship with many presidents. For a detailed essay please go to Julie Feinstein’s wonderful blog Urban Wildlife Guide. To sum it up: George H.W. Bush and George W Bush let the dogs chase them, thumbs down! Eisenhower tried to trap and release them for the sake of his putting green, which Congress used to paint him as a wildlife hater. Thumbs down! Warren G Harding, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton…thumbs up! They all fed and/ or studied the squirrels. So we notice that kindness to squirrels can be bipartisan. Maybe the Congress and the President should get together on the South Lawn, feed the squirrels and get some work done. The squirrels would be happy to consult.