Saudi Arabia: No Worries About Squirrels

This afternoon was a glorious Spring day in Charlotte.  The weather was ideal where it was not too hot but just the right temperature to sit outside and enjoy the day, kind of like mid-November in Riyadh.  I have a small patio which looks out upon a haven of nature.  There are trees with blossoms of pink or white and other trees which are bursting with buds of new growth.  Right now, before the trees are in full bloom and the foliage obscures the view, I can see through to the large pond which is directly behind the tree line.

Two weeks ago I hung a simple bird feeder up in one of the trees.  I’ve enjoyed watching all the different types of birds that have come to the feeder.  I do not know the identities of the various birds but I do have a pair of red cardinals that make their appearance at the feeder in the early evening.  The male cardinal is a brilliant ruby red while the female is a much more muted shade of red.

However the visitors to the feeder that brings instant laughter on sight is the pair of determined squirrels who come to feed.  Allegedly my bird feeder is advertised as “squirrel proof” but I guess the manufacturer did not have the persistent squirrel in mind.  These squirrels that feed individually and not at the same time have their little ritual in pursuit of the food.  They start out climbing up from the tree opposite where the feeder is hung.  They try to reach across to the feeder and end up looking like a little hammock of fur swinging back and forth as its front paws are holding on to the feeder and the other to the tree.

Next the squirrels will sense that the hammock approach is not going to render any of the food so they make their way back to the ground and promptly climb up the tree which holds the birdfeeder.  The birdfeeder is hung on a protruding tree limb so it is not simply climb up the tree and perch on the feeder.  The squirrels make a few passes around the tree eyeing the position of the feeder.  Eventually a pass will be made where the squirrels front paws are on the feeder and back remain on the tree (trunk).  This position does not work either as the movements of the squirrel cause the birdfeeder which is hanging from the limb to sway too much for the squirrel to feed.  After a few more passes the determination of the squirrel becomes more evident and a leap is made onto the birdfeeder.  The squirrel(s) is now hanging upside down fully exposing his fluffy white belly  with his back paws clasped around the limb from which the feeder is hanging and its front paws are gripping either the base or side of the feeder.  In this position the squirrels are finally able to grasp food.  I cannot explain how the squirrel actually eats and swallows while hanging upside down but that is what it did in its own determined manner.

Some people might have been perturbed by a squirrel stealing the food from a bird feeder but I enjoyed watching the pair of rolly-polly fat cheeked squirrels.  Seeing them reminded me of my late husband, Abdullah and the time his work at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC was disrupted due to squirrels which had found their way into a restricted area of the embassy.

With many Saudi nationals in the cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah or Damman living in villas with high walls and few trees or in apartment buildings, squirrels are not a typical creature to be seen.  One may be more likely to encounter a monkey rather than a squirrel.

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10 Responses

  1. Cute picture and I enjoyed your description of the way the squirrels get the food. My neighbor’s bird feeder get raided often by persistent squirrels. She’s not as good-natured about it as you are. 😉

    Don’t you love the blooming trees this time of year?

  2. My wife and I are avid bird watchers and feeders, so we know all about ‘squirrel proof’. Of course some feeders are better than others but free food is a terrible temptation for squirrels, particularly in winter (we still have snow on the ground here in MN).

    I have learned to accept the squirrels for what they are. They aren’t the enemy (after all they don’t kill the birds).

  3. My wife and I live in an apartment building with a brick facade. Every so often a pair of squirriels we named Ruffy and Tuffy will climb up the side of the building to pay us visits at the window. Normally its after my wife has made cookies and they want their fair share! Cookies they do not get but peanuts they do.

  4. I’ll never forget when my daughter— then ten years old— came to the United States for the first time, and saw a squirrel. She had been outside in the yard, admiring the trees and grasses she’d never seen in the Middle East.

    Suddenly she came scrambling into the house screaming, “A rat! A rat with a big tail!”

    It was only a squirrel, trying to get at the bird feeder.

  5. Oh, Marahm! I almost spit out my tea! HA! Thanks for the big belly laugh so early in the morning…When I lived in the Midwest, I watched squirrels for hours in the fall burying nuts for the hard months ahead. Then, in the depths of winter, with three feet or more of snow on the ground, he’d return…scampering across the snow until abruptly stopping, sniffing, and then nose down digging until the tip of his tail was all that could be seen. He’d eventually disappear, and then suddenly reappear with the stored nut in his mouth. Amazing!

  6. Ahhh, yes, AK. And sometimes, they appear with my dang tulip bulbs!! Blasted big tailed rats! lol

  7. I’ve never seen baboons in Jeddah- but feral cats continuously. I miss squirrels!

  8. I offered a cute little squirrel a peanut in the shell one time. I leaned down and cautiously slid my hand out holding the gift…careful not to scare him away….suddenly he did this rather agile leap, latched onto the nut in my hand…along with the fingernail to my thumb…and wouldnt let go.

    There I was jumping up and down like a maniac….flinging my arm about like i was attempting a one armed lift off…and the bushy tailed rat clung on like a manic leech.

    After an hour or so…ok maybe a min…i figured it would help if I let go of the nut…unfortunately he still had my thumbnail along with the nut…and long story short…he got the nut…and a big chunk of my nail.

    Now i throw nuts at them….so sue me. 😦

  9. I am enjoying hearing of everyone’s experience with squirrels. My 2.5 year old grandson calls them cats!

  10. Once I planted tulips and hyacinths, they were fine for some time, but once they sprouted – one morning almost all of them disappeared. I only could see the long roots laying around. I did not understand, why. Then I saw several squirrels digging in my flower bed and dragging the bulbs out. That was not funny at all. Also, they like to eat unripenened fruits, so my fruit trees were suffering alot. There is nothing humane you can do to get rid of them, so we learned to leave with them. Once squirrel was drowning in our swimming pool. Poor creature was screaming… I had to get the pool net and help it out.

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