Thursday, December 11, 2008

Acorns or no acorns, the woodlands squirrels must eat

I have noticed that we have no acorns this year on any tree nearby. It first came to my attention when I observed a squirrel outside in the Yaupon eating the berries. Then I thought, if the squirrels are going to eat the berries all winter, what about the Robins in the Spring? What will they eat? Last year, this little guy was eating acorns at this time of year. He has been eating pine cone seeds until recently.

Well, if you noticed what I noticed last year, then there is a clue for you as well. We had a bumper crop of acorns last year. My White Oak produced so many that I thought I was going to go crazy with the acorns hitting the roof and lying all over the patio. Then too, the squirrels were burying the acorns all over the yard, so grass was damaged by their need to save the food for a "rainy day". The acorns were everywhere last year, all over the street, driveways, ... just everywhere and varying species of Oak all contributed to the abundance. There are zero acorns this year. The only ones I have seen were on a few limbs that were toppled by Hurricane Ike but had been in the tree all year as broken limbs, unable to break lose to fall to the ground. Those were all rotted out and useless for food.

So did the hurricane knock all of the acorns off the trees? No, that would be very doubtful. Actually, this is a cyclic pattern of Oak Trees. They usually produce a small amount of acorns in the off year cycle, but this year it appears to be nil. So what to do? Feed the little guys or just let nature do its thing? We will lose some to hunger I think, if we do not feed them. Yet this is the way nature takes care of its own. The birds will have to seek alternate food (worms for example) to continue their trek north in the Spring. They will compete for the berries in the winter, but I have not seen any Robins yet. Where are they? I heard that some of them are staying up north but winter looks pretty harsh this year, so I expect to see them soon.

I am going to provide them and the birds with some seeds in my feeder, but they will have to fare on their own for most of their food.

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