Meet mother squirrel

It all started in February 2022 when a squirrel appeared in our street. It started to make a nest in the squirrel nesting box that the neighbours fixed to the tree in front of their house. Years ago.

We did not know the reason for this nest, just as we did not know whether this was a male or a female. Squirrels have several nests. For different occasions. One to sleep in, nests to take a nap in, a nest to hide supplies etc. They often suffer from fleas, and for that reason, they often move to a fresh nest.
The fanaticism and perseverance with which the little buzzy animal built the nest gave me good hope it would be a pregnant female. And I also thought the squirrel looked a bit chubby, so who knows, it might become a nest for youngsters. But then again. How many squirrels have I looked at for a longer period of time to come to a good comparison as to their waist size?

eekhoorn met nestmateriaal

And then suddenly the weather became bad

Three storms in succession swept across our country, the worst of which, named Eunice, caused the giant oak tree next to ‘the squirrel tree’ to almost fall on the neighbour’s house and on ours too. On a long night with a lot of firemen, blue flashing lights, large machines, and people from the water board, everything turned out fine in the end. Except for the tree. It was cut down and chopped up the next day by the whole neighbourhood. Its wood will be burned in our stoves.

After that night we did not notice the squirrel anymore. We thought it had gone somewhere else because it had been scared to death with all the fuss in the tree next to the nest.


She was there during the storm!

But weeks later, we suddenly saw a squirrel again, skipping through the treetops like an acrobat. And it was visiting the nest box! A few days later, the miracle happened; we saw little squirrel heads peeking out! All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Our squirrel was a she! And we didn’t see her for so long because she was with her youngsters! Young squirrels are born bald, blind, and helpless, they need their mother to keep them warm. She was there during the storm! She was looking after her cubs while the whole street was in turmoil!

They started to look outside more and more! But not only us, the crows had also discovered the youngsters. Now and then I saw Mother chasing the big birds away like some kind of Wonder Woman. She commanded a lot of respect. Nobody had to mess with this tiny mother squirrel.

jonge eekhoorn

Mustaches made of moss

I saw her acrobatically going through the trees with enormous mustaches made of moss. When she was back at the squirrel tree, I often lost sight of her when she was at the back of that tree. But ok…that’s what squirrels are good at, disappearing on the other side of the trunk, I just thought……

She took them away in a sort of vice-like grip!

…until one evening the neighbour called. The neighbour and I kept each other very, very closely informed about the developments around the nest. ‘She wants to take them out!’,  the neighbour said. When we went to take a closer look, with binoculars and a telephoto lens, we witnessed a real move! One by one, the youngsters were taken by the skin of their necks and carried into the tree. They were carried to a hole in the back of the tree. She had built a completely new nest and she had it upholstered with the moss mustaches!
The youngsters did not want this. They struggled and one even held on to the box. But mother was implacable. She took them away in a sort of vice-like grip! After she had moved two youngsters, she made a final inspection of the box, to make sure she did not have forgotten one. But there were no more than two.

verhuizing eekhoorns

The crows had located the nest

We do not know the reason for the move. Fleas? Robbers? The crows had located the nest and were keeping a close eye on it. Or perhaps because the youngsters could explore the world more easily from this spot. For the next day, one of the youngsters was bravely on an excursion into the tree. Such a small creature exploring the world outside for the first time. It was truly a marvelous thing. But the crows stayed nearby, they had their nests full of hungry young just around the corner.

jong eekhoorntje

They ran through the treetops like woofy teenagers

Mother squirrel was busy with the young, she encouraged them to climb and chase away crows and magpies. But she also did her very own things. Like on the day, she received gentlemanly visits from no less than two gentlemen! They ran through the treetops like woofy teenagers, everywhere she flapped her tail to leave her scent and eventually a mating ensued. She mated with the male I liked best. He was dark hazel brown, with a very pale rim around the eye…. Squirrels come in many shades and variations between them. (Yes I watched all this closely, I did nothing but squirrel watch in those days :-)

Such little creatures so high up in a tree

Every day the little squirrels ventured further from their burrow, and higher up the tree…Such little creatures so high up in a tree, I was always afraid they would fall. But they did exactly what they were made for, and they got better every day.

klimmende eekhoorns

And then it got quiet…

…way too quiet, sadly quiet, deadly quiet. First, we tried positive thinking. ‘Well maybe they are just a little tired, and they just sleep in today…’ But we knew better…
The crows flew around the nest for a while more. Mother came to watch a few more times. And after that it remained completely silent.

All week I was sad about the loss of these little creatures I had grown to love. It felt so empty and bare and unfinished. They had only just barely started living…

And then…yesterday….

While the little squirrels were alive, in 2022 I had started this blog, but I didn’t feel like finishing it…Until yesterday…a squirrel came to inspect the nest box. It’s the time of year when squirrels look for nesting opportunities. He or she was dark hazel brown, with a very pale rim around the eye…

eekhoorn 2024