I bought a new feeder to replace the one which broke. I knew I needed a different feeder anyway because that small feeder went completely empty every 24 hours. It held 2 pounds of feed and I was a bit baffled as to how that feeder was emptying out so much faster than the other two.
We put up the new feeder last night. It’s huge and holds a full 10-pounds of seeds. You can put in two different kinds of feed because the feeder is divided into two sections. It’s rather heavy, so over the weekend Owen is going to install two new, braced wrought-iron brackets.
Right before bed last night, I turned on the light on the deck, just to see if the new feeder was still on its hook and hadn’t pulled the bracket off the post.
No one was more surprised than I to see lots of furry white animals leaving the feeders. There had to be a dozen of them at least. First, I thought they were squirrels because they didn’t look feathery. They looked fluffy. And very light gray. Almost white.
But then some of them seemed to fly away, so I said “Birds? Big white birds? At night? Birds don’t feed at night unless they are insect eaters like owls. But owls won’t go near the feeders. Not their kind of food — and none of the seed-eating birds will eat at night. As far as I knew, neither do squirrels.
I was right. And I was wrong. It turns out, they were squirrels. Flying squirrels. I had no idea we had flying squirrels in New England. Apparently, we have not one, but two different kinds of flying squirrels here and most people never see them and don’t know they exist in this region. I certainly had no idea.
Not only do we have them, but we have a lot of them, both the northern and southern types. Both these species are small. There are a few (who don’t live here) that are the size of normal gray squirrels, but these are about 6 to 7 inches long and very light grey to nearly white.
They live in big nests of up to 50 at a time, are entirely nocturnal, and love birdseed — especially (yummy!) sunflower seeds which comprise about 1/2 of the feed we put out. They aren’t picky and will eat any of the seeds, including nyjer.
We had a flock (are a bunch of flying squirrels a flock?) all over the feeders. Obviously, I didn’t get pictures. It was dark and I wasn’t expecting to see anything. It was a real shock. Especially when they flew off the feeders. We don’t have flying squirrels, do we?
Nothing will keep them out of the feeders, either, because baffles people put up to keep out gray squirrels? The flyers just glide in under the baffles. They were all over my three feeders. Of course, as soon as I turned the light on, they fled. In any case, we don’t have baffles. What seems to have happened is that the gray squirrels eat early in the morning and the birds get the rest of the day … and the flying squirrels chow down at night.
Flying squirrels have been around for longer than humans. Their big eyes make seeing at night easier and for some unknown reason, they also glow a fluorescent pink at night. No one knows why.