Flying squirrel’s flight path to feeder not so smooth

Posted Dec. 28, 2010, at 9:11 p.m.

Since July, a flying squirrel has been coming to my bird feeder.

The feeder is attached to the window with suction cups. The squirrel comes down from the roof and climbs the side of the apartment building, up the edge of the window and hops onto my bird feeder.

I can see the squirrel chomping on hulled sunflower seeds and swallowing them.

Flying squirrels do not have cheek pockets like chipmunks have, so they are not able to carry a stash of seeds away with them.

After eating dinner, they glide away. Oops — no, it’s not their dinner. It’s their breakfast — they sleep all day and wake up in the evening.

Once, a flying squirrel tried to glide directly to the bird feeder, but it missed and fell down into the dark night. I presume that the squirrel was able to glide to a nearby tree. After about two minutes, it came to the feeder in the usual way — climbing up the edge of the window.

I can see the squirrel as close as eight inches away, through the window. I look to see that its tail is broad and flat, not tubular as in the tree squirrels: gray and red squirrels.

A folded layer of loose skin is on each side of the body, between the front and rear legs. This skin stretched out enables the flying squirrel to glide.

Before the squirrels came to my apartment, I had seen only three or four flying squirrels — one at a friend’s house, once in the forest and one on the road, hit by a car.

People who have seen flying squirrels generally have a light focused on their bird feeder, or have a cat that brings one in. (This is a good reason to keep the cat inside.)

Flying squirrels are smaller than red squirrels and have larger eyes. They are very cute.

There are two species of flying squirrels: northern and southern. The squirrel I have is a northern one.

Flying squirrels eat nuts, seeds, berries, insects, small bird eggs and nestlings.

Bobcats, martens, fishers, weasels and owls prey on flying squirrels.

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Join Fields Pond Audubon Center Director Matt Dubel for “Stories in Snow,” an investigation of the stories told by tracks and other signs in the snow.

We’ll begin in the Discovery Room and venture out to practice our skills on the trail in the program at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 8. It is suitable for the whole family.

For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.

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